Harriet Kelsall, our bespoke jeweller in Primrose Hill, is planning to re-open on
1 16 June. They have put plenty of thought into keeping everyone safe…
Balancing the need for safety of our designers and customers with the need for a rewarding, personal in-store experience is a challenge.
We’ve looked at how other retailers are approaching this and have developed our own bespoke plan. We aren’t a normal retailer, where customers browse, buy and pay at a till; instead, our customers sit down with designers and create unique pieces.
So, how to do this safely? And in particular, how to keep customers and designers two metres apart!
Luckily for us, our showroom design is based around self-contained design areas, with consultation tables to one side. So we’ve developed a strategy – using some furniture rearrangement, Perspex screens, surgical gloves and rigorous cleaning routines – that keeps within the government guidelines while still making it possible to work with a designer face to face.
We’re planning to keep our front doors open and as much as possible our air conditioning units off – a tip we picked up from guidelines in France. We hope that this will keep fresh air circulating and the virus away – we are praying for good weather!
We’re asking our designers to wear facemasks. So Harriet Kelsall has teamed up with a fantastic group of volunteers – TrashChic in Cambridge – to provide some comfortable and practical items. And all the money raised goes to the NHS.
It’s a daunting task for those who will be working in our shops. Beyond their normal job, they’ll be cleaning jewellery all the time, wearing protection and keeping vigilant – quite a challenge.
Even the shape of our workshop is a challenge as it is long and thin. But luckily the more senior of our goldsmiths have workshops at home so they will remain there, allowing more space for those who do not to work safely on site.
A particular issue for us is the passing of ‘job packets’ of work in progress from person to person. We’ll be focusing our efforts on ensuring that everyone wipes down what they’ve touched – making it safe for the next person.
We’ll also be drawing up a list of common ‘touch points’ for us and the public – switches, door handles and so on – and asking the team to pay special attention to those.
Critical to our strategy is feedback from our staff and keeping what we do under constant review. We’ll be considering asking customers to show their faces before entering, and many other things too – it’s all under review at the moment. After we close each day, we’ll be looking into what went well and what didn’t – developing what we do to suit this ‘new normal’.
The good news is that we’ve seen an increase in enquiries as lockdown eases. There’s definitely a demand for special pieces of bespoke jewellery – perhaps the experiences we’ve all been through over the last few months has reminded us of the importance of family, friends and loved ones.
Perhaps jewellery can play its part in celebrating the joy of contact.