Life in Luxury | Kelly Montague, Marketing Director at Stephen Einhorn
Walpole’s newest profile series, Life in Luxury, explores the everyday working lives of all areas of Walpole’s membership to examine what makes the sector and its people tick.
Today we meet Kelly Montague, Marketing Director at fine jewellers Stephen Einhorn, who shares her Life in Luxury: what makes working at Stephen Einhorn so special, and her invaluable advice for those looking to get into the sector – plus how an alternative career as an electrician almost beckoned…
Tell us what you do?
I look after all the marketing and communications at Stephen Einhorn, and am involved in a lot of different areas which I love. I’m a brand guardian, but it ultimately all comes back to the designs, the customer and their experience. Without them we wouldn’t be here, and we have very loyal repeat customers and fantastic customer feedback so I hope we’re doing something right. A personalised service, the follow up and the aftercare are incredibly important in the luxury world. Your product can be fantastic but if you’re not offering an excellent and genuine service people are unlikely to come back to you. There’s a lot of choice out there.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
It really varies from week to week. Recently I’ve been working on the short video we released to coincide with the Dumbo film and the designs we made for that. We had a pretty short turnaround so it was quite full on in terms of getting all of the assets and creating the web pages, emails, shop graphics, social content and managing the PR. We’ve had a brilliant response which always makes it worthwhile. Another day it might be looking at a new technology provider, our customer journey, web development or working on a brand collaboration.
What do you like most about your job?
The company and its ethos, [founders] Stephen Einhorn and Jane Best, and our brilliant team. The jewellery is beautiful and the quality and attention to detail is second to none. I’ve worked in the luxury sector since I was 18 but when I took the job at Stephen Einhorn it was my first experience with luxury jewellery. I was a bit naïve and my initial thought was: why is this jewellery more expensive than some other more mainstream high street retailers? But I quickly realised why… the designs and the care that goes into them, the weight and fit, the craftsmanship and skill of our jewellers who are based in our London workshop behind the shop; it’s all a real labour of love. People buy our pieces for themselves or a loved one and they hold a meaning that most other purchases don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love beautiful clothes, bags and shoes, but there’s something about fine jewellery that sets it apart. There’s more of an emotional connection and the best pieces become like old friends, you might put them away and not see them for a while, but you’ll always come back to them. They last a lifetime.
The industry is moving quicker than ever, especially online and with technology. Blockchain, AI and machine learning, semantic search, voice search – it’s an exciting time but the pace of change can be challenging at times.
What attracted you to the luxury sector specifically?
Initially it was pretty simple; I loved design and nice things. My mum had slightly expensive taste and it rubbed off! But she also instilled a strong work ethic, so as soon as I could, I got a job at Flannels where I had an amazing manager who taught me the importance of great customer service. Whilst at university I worked there for three or four days a week and took full advantage of the staff discount. My dad used to say that my sister and I were living a champagne lifestyle on lemonade money. He had a point and we were living rent free, so my wardrobe was probably better than it is now. I could have taken a very different turn though: when I finished uni my sister and I seriously considered becoming electricians – we saw a good business and market opportunity for a women’s owned electrical company… but the luxury sector came out on top. I still have a penchant for a boiler suit though!
What was your path to the role you have now?
My degree was in Fashion Marketing & Communications, which did help me get my first job – but if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have bothered with university and I certainly wouldn’t now with the increase in fees. University is great for some people but, looking back, I went because I thought I should. In reality, I wanted to get stuck in to the real world, read the books and do the research on my own schedule… I wasn’t really made for the classroom.
I began my career at an online retailer called my-wardrobe.com, in customer services. I’d only been there for a few weeks when the owners asked me if I wanted to do PR. I was originally based in Nottingham and moved to London with the job I’d always dreamed of. The owners were brilliant and really championed and supported me and I learnt a lot. I’d been there for a year when a client approached me about a job. It was a super affiliate called Fashion Confidential, more online magazine, email marketing and events based – we worked with companies like NET-A-PORTER, Farfetch, Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Valentino and the Estée Lauder group. I realised at my-wardrobe that straight PR wasn’t really for me; I wanted a broader role in brand and marketing, which is where my real strengths and passion lie. After Fashion Confidential I went to Stephen Einhorn. I was initially attracted to the company because of its designs and integrity. It was supporting British craftsmanship, it didn’t overproduce, didn’t have sales, and Stephen and Jane obviously cared for the people who worked there, and also for their local community and the wider world around them. Things that are all still true to this day. I worked my way up from Online Marketing Manager to my current role of Marketing Director.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into the luxury sector?
Go and get work experience as what you think you want to do might not be right for you. I personally think on-the-job training is better than any course. I did a few weeks of work experience in my second year of university and got offered a job at the end of it. I didn’t take it as I was in the middle of my degree and wanted to see it through, but it showed me that if you work hard, are enthusiastic, have a good attitude and common sense, you don’t really need a degree. If you want to go to university, crack on, but I really don’t think it’s necessary to work in this industry. But what I would say is read a lot, be a sponge and take everything in. Luxury is much more than just nice designs, sleek shows and advertising campaigns. It’s about society and where we’re at. The economy, political climate, subcultures, technological developments; these factors all have a massive effect on the luxury sector. Whether you’re a designer, marketer, programmer or buyer, being up to date with wider issues will ultimately make you better at your job and put you at an advantage.
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