'I want to open more shops': Lisa Angel vows not to go online-only
PUBLISHED: 10:49 28 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:23 28 September 2019
Lisa Angel at her Rackheath offices and where jewellery is made. Pic: Archant
Norwich jeweller Lisa Angel vowed to buck the trend and keep her shops open and said she'd wanted to go into the Royal Arcade but the costs were too high.
Norwich retailer Lisa Angel said she was not interested in running an online-only business but was "passionate about keeping her shops open" despite the tough climate.
In fact Lisa, 46, hinted she would like to open another shop - possibly selling clothes - and that she had considered going into the Royal Arcade, now half empty, but was put off by the high costs.
And the woman who now spearheads a business that has more than 100 employees, said despite online sales forming more than 86% of her total revenue, she'd never willingly give up on her stores. She has three shops; one on Lower Goat Lane in the Lanes, another in Chapelfield and a concession in Topshop. In the last financial year, just ended, the business had a £6.6m turnover with an 11% year-on-year growth predicted for next year - equating to £7.4m. Lisa's website revenue has grown by a staggering 43% in the past two years yet she is adamant she wants her shops to stay open.
"I still love retail," she said. "The high street is tough, I love what we do, I don't think we would have the online business that we have without our shops, part of the business for me is to open more shops, it would be more about the 'theatre', the hand-stamping of jewellery and personalisation in front of the customer on the spot.
"We nearly went into the Royal Arcade, we looked twice, but the figures just didn't add up, my heart was there, I wanted to do it. We probably wouldn't open anywhere else in Norwich now because we are well covered. It's tough out there, the high street needs some help from the government in terms of rents and rates. When we first started, it was the shop which was the thing, which gave me cashflow to start the online business and I couldn't have done it without a shop. Now the shops are thriving because they have the support of the of the online business.
People still love to come into a shop and try things on, I would never want to close my shops, I am very passionate about making sure they stay open. I'd love to open a clothes shop but everyone around me always says 'no' but you never know."
Lisa, wearing a floral print dress teamed with all her own jewellery and a biker's leather jacket, has just designed a new collection called 'Move your Mind' with Norwich blogger and Youtuber Carly Rowena, who has 164,000 followers on Instagram. "It's mind blowing, I went to an event with her in London, she is like a star, you just want to be her best friend. It was when we opened the new shop in Chapelfield, she came to it, I said I'd love to do a collection and she said yes straight away which is amazing, it was nine months in the making, it took a long time, but it's a beautiful collection.
"As for celebrities, they say you know you've made it when you see one of your necklaces on Beyonce. I would love the Duchess of Cambridge to wear something of mine, that would be the dream."
Lisa was the girl who indeed dreamed big. Born in Essex, she came to Norfolk aged 11 when her parents decided to run a pub in Langley. She went to school in Loddon and studied fashion design at college in Yarmouth and then a degree in European fashion at Kent including a year out in Lille designing clothes for a catalogue. After graduating, she worked for an accessory company selling bags to HOF - and within months they offered her a job as an assistant buyer. From there she went to Debenhams (she was responsible for its baguette bag collection) and River Island. "I lived for fashion, I'd spend an entire month's salary on a pair of Prada or Miu Miu shoes but eventually I got to a point where I wanted to change my life.
"I wanted a calmer life, David (Lisa's husband) and I were expecting a baby at this point and life as a buyer was crazy. I was away a lot and under a lot of pressure if something didn't sell. I wanted to come home. After the birth of my daughter Libby, we didn't have much money so I sold my car, a Ford KA, and got about £4,500 for it and that was my business money. "We were living in Norwich. I had a very small budget and I didn't have any premises, this was 2002-4 and there was a trend of turning jeans into skirts. I'd go down to Portobello Market in London just to see what was going on." So, Lisa began selling jeans, T-shirts and bags that she'd customised, by embellishing them using beads and fabric. "The Forum was my home for many years, it was the place to be, packed on a Saturday, I would make during the week, it was almost like a hobby which made a bit of money but it became really popular. I was working Monday-Thursday and then selling at the weekend, friends used to help me on the stall and I would pay them in pizza. But then I met my business coach Anne Francis. I said I had got this idea and she believed in me, so I had to make it happen, I had to present something that would make her proud of me."
Next: Making it happen: how Lisa went from selling in a pop-up to being a worldwide retailer.