“I started my business in 1997 in my mum and dad’s cellar, while still employed at a place where I had worked for 12 years and where I also served my apprenticeship,” says Kevan Scott, founder of the jewellery manufacturer and designer Kevan Scott, when recounting how he started the business.
Humble beginnings are nothing new for many jewellers, but during his “time in the cellar” he built up a robust collection of his own designs which he would sell to independent jewellers around the UK. He quickly established key relationships with companies such as David Dudley Jewellers and Rodney Buckland, with whom Scott still deals with to this day, and says he owes “a lot of thanks to for believing in his designs”.
So having quickly found his feet, Scott eventually “took the plunge” and set out on his own, moving from the cellar to his garage which he had converted into a workshop and studio. “I worked out of there until 2003, when we bought and moved into our current premises where we have our workshop and showroom,” he explains. The showroom features the manufacturer’s own collections for sale, as well as other jewellery collections that “complement the quality of our own”, he adds.
But what began as a manufacturing wholesale business also started to evolve into a bespoke one as well, when the company started offering its services at wedding shows. “We offered a very bespoke fitted wedding service at very competitive prices,” says Scott. This led to the development of the retail side of the business, which saw the opening of its own shop in 2003. “We continued with our wholesale side for a number of years, but demand definitely grew for our bespoke pieces and private commissions.”
“The companies which we used to sell our collections to then realised the potential of using our workshop to increase their own bespoke service,” says Scott, “and saw us also focus on creating individual pieces to customers on a more personal service.”
Scott says that, “in a nutshell”, the business offers a “full bespoke design and in-house manufacturing service”, and believes there are not many companies that can challenge them on the “diversity of products it has and can produce”.
“The only thing we don’t do ourselves is casting, which is done by a company called Q-branch Casting Ltd in Chichester.” The manufacturer also provides remodelling, repair, restorating and valuations services. The business recycles as much metal in-house as it can, both to keep the cost down and to be as “environmentally friendly as possible” by not buying new metal all the time.
Scott says the company is also “pretty old school” in terms of the equipment, methods and tools that it uses, although it has “embraced” 3D technology over the years. “We use Delcam as a building block and we have a CNC Milling machine to produce our wax models,” he explains
However, Scott says one of best pieces of technology he uses happens to be a welder. “We’ve got a PUK3 Welder, which is something I wished I had when I started my business. That’s just something that has been absolutely brilliant,” he says with a chuckle.
“We also have an AmScope Microscope, with a 1080p camera attached to it, which is brilliant for really intricate work, but is also great for showing customers what you’re doing on a screen while you’re working away, as the camera feeds all of that footage through to them,” he adds.
The Kevan Scott team is made up of four people – two which handle the manufacturing of all the jewellery, and then two which run the front shop and are also the design and sales consultants.
In terms of the latter two team members, Scott says that the designs they produce “are just incredible”, and having them there makes for a “really good team”. It’s good to have different minds to think of different designs, and not just me to dictate,” says Scott, “because I might have one direction with the jewellery designs, but they have other interesting directions as well and it would be a shame not to explore those.”
Sustainability and ethics have become key focal points for many industries, but Scott says a lot more attention and questions have been asked about the ethical factors and environmental impact that jewellery businesses have – “especially with the mining of gold and diamonds”, he adds. “I think we are all very aware of that and where everything comes from now, and in the jewellery industry it needs to be something we are more aware of and transparent about.”
Scott also thinks the next few years will be “interesting” with how lab-grown diamonds will impact the jewellery trade, and where the public will regard them and view them when comparing them with natural diamonds. “I personally would like to know what carbon footprint producing them has and why are they being advertised by companies as ethical,” adds. Scott.
He continues: “I think that’s a disingenuous approach quite frankly. I think the jewellery trade is always looking for something new, it’s always looking for some way to just sell, sell, sell, and there’s obviously a lot of mass produced stuff already out there.
“It’s how sustainable that can be, as opposed to bespoke, individual pieces. I like to think more people are embracing the bespoke side of jewellery, where we are, but in terms of these lab grown diamonds I’d like to know where the material comes from to produce them and what energy process is used to create them.
“If they can be transparent about everything else, I think they should also be transparent about that.”
He also thinks that, to a certain degree, jewellery has become just a “consumable” for many people, and makes the argument again in favour of bespoke work. “These new pieces of jewellery flooding the market are not there to last like the previous generation’s jewellery,” says Scott, “so it’s definitely become more of a consumable in that sense. But we are completely different to that, we want our pieces to be generational and last for a lifetime.”
The company has won numerous awards over the years, and has made some “amazing pieces”, however Scott insists still being in the industry 23 years later and doing something that he “absolutely loves with a great team around me” is by “far and away” his biggest achievement.
“Every day that we can still be in business and get to make the pieces that we do is simply a brilliant thing,” says Scott, “so tomorrow is our greatest achievement, and the day after and so on.” He notes how there are some brilliant manufacturing businesses out there, and while Kevan Scott “certainly doesn’t profess to be the best”, what it does offer in terms of its service is the mindset that nothing is ever “any trouble” when it comes to customer satisfaction. “That, married with the quality of our products and aftersales service, is what I think makes us an attractive company to use,” he adds.
He says it’s also about “communication, respect and understanding”, no matter whether it’s an individual client that comes in or “somebody you’ve worked with for years”. “You just have to deliver the same quality each and every time, and hopefully exceed that expectation every single time,” he adds.
So for 2020, and the years thereafter, Scott says he wants to “keep on doing what we do best”. “There are challenges that will come along, and our goals will be to deal with them so that they don’t affect or interrupt the great service which we offer, and the efficient manner we offer it in.”