01 Dec 2015 | 09.59 am
Shop Window On Irish Jewellery
Inside Ann Chapman's Stonechat Jewellers
01 Dec 2015 | 09.59 am
After training as a jeweller, Ann Chapman had a nagging urge to start her own business.
“I would have always planned to do it but it was the question of capital,” she recalls. “My brother said, ‘well, have you put together a business plan, have you tried?’ In fairness I hadn’t, so I bought a business plan book and went through it part by part. It’s pretty easy when they tell you how to do it.”
Since 2012, Ann has had her own shop, Stonechat Jewellers, in the Westbury Mall off Grafton Street in Dublin. Funded with €80,000 equity investment, the company booked a net profit of €38,000 in the year to March 2014 and net worth has grown to €119,000.
Part of the store’s attraction is the workshop positioned by the shopfront. This draws customers inside, where muted mauve walls and contemporary jewellery in white cabinets encourage them to linger. “The workshop is the heart of the business,” she explains. “People can see that the products are handmade and it’s a talking point.”
Stonechat (the name was inspired by a type of bird) is based around a ‘softly, softly’ approach to selling. “I love people to come in, browse and try things on with no pressure,” says Ann. “Traditionally, jewellers would have been standoffish, with doorbells and white gloves. I wouldn’t go into a jewellers like that.”
Stonechat’s style is contemporary Irish and features statement stones and clean, geometric lines with oft-matte finishes.
Ann Chapman credits her mother Rose for her business acumen. She ran a wedding cake business and Ann remembers her mum staying up until 3am decorating cakes, and still being up in the morning to make breakfast. “I think I had a real sense of work ethic from seeing how hard she worked to get the job done.”
The entrepreneur studied European Studies in Trinity and spent an Erasmus year in Paris. “I loved the jewellery there. That’s where I started really, stringing and buying lots of little beads.”
“The day I got my results, I walked out of Trinity and around to FÁS to apply for a goldsmithing course with Kilkenny Design.”
After Kilkenny, Ann managed a jewellery store for five years where she got a complete overview of running a business, from accounting to sales and product sourcing. But she missed creating and wanted to be her own boss. “When you’ve worked in other people’s business for so long, being able to make the decisions is really nice.”
When it came to premises, the only property she viewed was in the Westbury Mall. “What was important to me was the name. Westbury is somewhere everybody knows. I do a lot of marketing and if you’re going to do that you need to be somewhere people can easily find.”
Stonechat favours print advertising and Ann asks customers where they heard of the store in order to gauge which ads garner the best return. She says she isn’t afraid to take risks and spend money. “I think that’s important when running a business. If you’re risk averse, you’re only going to go so far. If it doesn’t work then move onto something else, but don’t spend three years figuring it out.”