“I think Andy’s mum is wearing your Memory Keeper locket” said my son while watching the Wimbledon final in 2013. Sport daft, nuts about Andy Murray and eagle-eyed enough to be able to tell the difference between a toad and a frog at ten paces, my teenage son does not, however, take much interest in jewellery so I assumed he must be mistaken.
Judy Murray had bought some Lily Blanche pieces online – in fact she was one of our first online customers – but she hadn’t bought the Memory Keeper Locket, which opens to reveal six secret photographs. As Andy came close to playing the winning shot the camera panned onto an emotional Judy in the Wimbledon crowd and it was clear that she was indeed wearing the Lily Blanche Memory Keeper Locket in sterling silver. I squealed with excitement and phoned my sister, with whom I set up the business. As a small, but growing, jewellery brand, it was thrilling to think that Judy Murray had chosen our locket for this historic occasion. It was doubly exciting as our studio is based in Stirling, not far from Dunblane where Andy and Jamie Murray grew up and we’d watched their progress over the years. Shop the Memory Keeper Collection here
Later that week, one of our stockists told us that Judy had been in the shop and had bought several pieces of Lily Blanche, including the Memory Keeper Locket and the Birkin Handbag Locket. We wrote to Judy and thanked her for wearing the piece and congratulated her on a thrilling Wimbledon.
She was kind enough to write back and tell us how much she liked our jewellery. “It’s my absolute fave piece” she said. Since then, a number of our customers have noticed when she has worn the very distinctive designs and often message to tell us.Our paths have since crossed a couple of times and despite her growing profile, she has always been completely charming. It’s not always easy being a woman in the public eye, especially in such a male-dominated world as Judy’s autobiography Know The Score reveals.
It’s great to see some recognition of what she has achieved with her recent honour in the Queen’s Birthday list. Judy coached not just Jamie and Andy to tennis superstardom but a whole bunch of kids – including the late Elena Baltacha, Colin Fleming and Jamie Baker.
Despite her incredible success, Judy has stuck to her (grass)roots bringing her Miss Hits tennis programme and her Tennis On The Road to a new generation. Her values and ethos completely chime with everything we hold dear at Lily Blanche. So whatever happens on centre court this year, Judy Murray will always be our real champion. Shop the Memory Keeper Collection here
It’s already mid-way through January 2017 but it has been so busy in the Lily Blanche studio that I haven’t had time until now to reflect on the year that has just been. One thing is certain, however. It has been our most amazing and busiest year to date.
It started with a trip to Liberty London in January to pitch our designs to Julie Hassan, Liberty’s chief homeware buyer. You can read what happened on our blog. We managed to combine it with a fabulous stay at The Westbury Hotel, Mayfair – home from home for Jackie Onassis in the sixties and seventies – which boasts the best cocktail bar in London.
Our Liberty experience and the boost we got from it was just the start of a whirlwind year. We couldn’t have anticipated the huge success of the launch of our Memory Keeper Lockets in Gold and Rose Gold vermeil. These have been bestsellers in 2016.
Our Luminous gemstone cocktail rings were also a hit and prompted us to design earrings to match which will launch in a few weeks. Watch this space!
The graduation of Colette, great grand-daughter of the original Lily Blanche, with a first class honours degree in History was a fantastic occasion and we marked it with the Lily Blanche Vintage Key Pendant, the perfect way to mark key moments in life. You can see the video below.
Summer saw us on a trip to Zambia, emerald capital of Africa, and a wonderful place to go on safari. The kids bungee-jumped off Victoria Falls and I stood at the very edge of the falls and looked down into them – an unforgettable experience. And then there was the safari in South Luwanga Valley. So much inspiration came from this trip. You will see it played out in the collections we launch this year.
The fantastic success of Andy and Jamie Murray this year put mum Judy, an amazing woman and fantastic advocate for tennis, into the spotlight. Many of our eagle-eyed customers noticed Judy was wearing her Lily Blanche Birkin Locket during the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award and on the private plane with Andy when he became No 1 in the world. I was lucky enough to catch up with Judy at the fabulous Blytheswood Square Hotel in Glasgow for a quick interview which ran in the Sunday Times. (As many of you know I have a background in national newspapers and still write from time to time). Judy told me about the importance of parents in supporting their kids in sport. We’re big fans of her Miss Hits programme and Tennis On The Road. She’s a truly inspirational person and she has raised two sporting superstars with grace and modesty.
In October I was lucky enough to attend the Scottish Business Awards Dinner with Leonardo DiCaprio where I met up with Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill of Simple Minds. I first met Jim 10 years ago. It was great to hear their stories about family, friends and rock ‘n’ roll. They had the entire business community on their feet with a high-octane rendition of Don’t You (Forget About Me) during the dinner.
But the real highlight of the evening was catching up with Josh Littlejohn, founder of Social Bite – an incredible entrprise to help homeless people in Scotland. Josh and his girlfriend Alice not only allow people to pay ahead for coffee and sandwiches for people who need them at the cafes they run throughout Scotland, 20% of their staff are from the homeless community. Their latest venture is to build a village in Granton, Edinburgh to house people who have lost their homes. The Social Bite Village is the Lily Blanche charity of the year and we have given a proportion of our profits to the cause. We’re really grateful to all the customers who have made this possible.
As anyone running a thriving business knows – it’s not all fun and creativity. It can be lonely and exhausting and more evenings than I care to remember have seen me still in the studio, working at the bench or the computer, at 11pm. But in October I managed to grab a few days in New York.
We made the most of the time, staying on Park Avenue and enjoying shopping, the sights, the museums and the fabulous food in downtown Manhattan. I took my sketch book and found ispiration in the Faberge exhibit in the Met.
Did I mention the food? Here is Clementine, one of the orginal Lily Blanche’s great grand-daughters outside Nobu New York.
Back in Scotland we were invited to collaborting with the avant garde fashion magazine Fated and Fabled for the Eternity Feature in their Alchemy issue. It’s one of our favourite publications for the sheer creativity of their styling and photography. We were delighted with how they showcased the Lily Blanche collections and wove them into a story. You can see some of the images on our Instagram and Facebook feeds.
The team continues to grow, with Eva and Robbie joining. Our web guys, Tom and Toms have been fantastic and we’ve loved everything that Carlie our graphic designer has done. Marsaili has taken fantastic photography for us. Emma has made some beautiful pieces and we’ve had vital strategic help from Colette, Clementine, Alexander and Colin. We’ve been working one-to-one with Google and Facebook this year to develop our digital marketing strategy which has been fantastically exciting and we’re developing new collections which we will launch soon. Later this year we are planning a new model shoot.
It’s been an amazing and exciting year with our best Christmas ever and we’ve got to know some incredible customers. Thanks for sharing your stories with us and for shopping with Lily Blanche. We realy appreciate every one of you and the support you’ve given our business. I hope you continue to visit our website and social media pages in 2017.
Now all I have to do is ice the Christmas cake – just four weeks late!