What is the backstory of the company?
I first started Comfort Station back in 2000 just after having left the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford as a part-time way of funding my art practice. I started selling pieces I’d made at Portobello Market, five minutes away from where I’d grown up.
The stall took off and within a year I was selling to lots of shops and started showing at London Fashion week. By 2004 I’d opened our Cheshire Street store which we still have to this day from where we make all of the jewellery.
How do you come up with your designs?
All our jewellery is story-led. We start with a concept and it blossoms from there and these are usually encoded within the pieces. So we have themes as varied as Navigation, Leonard Cohen, Malian mud-cloth prints, Mindfulness, History, Poetry and Mathematics.
Talk me through some of your personalised jewellery offering?
In addition to the current collections we offer both a bespoke service as well as personalised pieces. One of our signature elements is engraving personalised coordinates and one of our most popular pieces is our Destination ring, where many people choose to have the location of where they first met engraved onto it.
What do you think separates you from other jewellers?
I think two things – we make all our jewellery in house so you are working with the actual maker when you work with us. That and the fact that our jewellery is conceptual – almost every pieces has a narrative to it which sets it apart from most of what is out there.
How has the industry changed since comfort station started?
Immensely. We used to do all the shows for many years – we showed at Paris Fashion week for 17 seasons straight, but the way people buy has changed now. Due to the immediacy of Instagram and social media you don’t have to do the shows to reach customers around the world now.
How did you keep up with these changes?
Our business operation has changed massively in the past six years. We now work almost exclusively directly through retail rather than concentrating on wholesale which has been much more successful for us. We concentrate directly on our customers and its a much more rewarding experience for us plus the direct feedback is essential.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Managing to keep the company running alongside the challenges of raising newborn twins! That and having such a large proportion of repeat customers – that is the thing I’m probably proudest of.
What are your goals for Comfort Station say within the next five years?
Next year I am planning a sabbatical where we will go online entirely since at the end of 2018 our shop rent will finally be no longer sustainable as is the way so many London rents are going sadly. So there will be big changes afoot.
I’m planning on focusing online for a year or so, with a view to possibly opening up another space in 2020 depending on what we can find and what we decide in that year. Change is good and 14 years is a long time to be in the same place so I’m looking forward to shaking things up a little.
This article first appeared in the May issue of Jewellery Focus.