Meet Alicia Jane – CEO and founder of Alicia Jane & Co. Her journey to opening her own company has made her who she is today. She has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is and she’s had many “no’s” thrown at her throughout her career.
In her own words: “Believe me, it has been a long road. I’ve cried, pounded the pavement, picked myself up, and brushed myself off time and time again.”
As someone totally unfiltered, she is meticulous, and some would even say that she’s harsh, however, she refers to herself as unapologetically direct.
A firm believer in persistence, she thrives under pressure and believes you can achieve anything you want if you work hard enough.
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Table of Contents
Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Alicia Jane: I always knew when I was a little girl that I was different to my piers. Even in school, I was always singled out for being mischievous and answering back, I didn’t conform and I never liked rules. Although I always got brilliant grades, it was by the grace of God because I never actually turned up to class, I was too busy building relationships with people that worked at the school. I was fascinated by the different personalities and how I could develop relationships by being perceptive and it always seemed to get me out of trouble. The thrill of negotiation was born! My father was never around, my mother was young when she had me and so basically my grandparents raised me until my mum remarried. My ex stepfather never really had any money so by the time I was 15, I remember making a CV pretending to be 16 and going down my local high street in Finchley handing print outs asking for work! Finally, I got a Saturday job in a little clothes store. I hated working there but I loved having my own money. A few years later I knew the institutionalised university experience that my friends were going to, was not for me. I wanted to be in the real world where I mixed with people from all backgrounds. I worked in fashion PR for a little while, that then progressed on to event sales but neither lit my fire and nor did the pay check. In the process of understanding my ‘network was my net worth’ I also realised that I could utilise that skill with something I am actually interested in to make money.
I chose to study gemology which has always been my passion. What girl doesn’t love diamonds!? I also had the most unbelievable mentor. He is 80 years young, with 60 years experience within Hatton Garden,London. I studied night and day, I sat with Uncle (my mentor, in Indian a sign of respect to call your elder Uncle) for maybe 12 hours a week. Just listening to anything and everything that he had going on. Even if it wasn’t about diamonds, it could be gold or just general selling techniques. I wanted to know anything. I wanted to sell whatever I could get my hands on. I wanted to build a relationship with anyone and everyone that walked down this prolific street, Hatton Garden.
An old friend offered me the opportunity to learn the industry from the inside whilst I was preparing the launch of my own company. The experience showed yet again, it was time to be my own boss! I just thought; if not now, when am I ever going to be ready? And here we are, slowly I am growing. The amount of enquiries has just been insane, I count my lucky stars. The first few months of revenue far exceeded my wildest dreams. The people constantly writing saying they want to work with me or even for me, to this day just overwhelms me. I am so appreciative. It hasn’t been an easy road to get here but I haven’t come this far to only get this far! I have to keep it moving…
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Alicia Jane: When I first started my company, of course, there were times that I considered giving up. By nature, I am possibly the most impatient person in the world! It takes time to gain a following, although the growth has been rapid; I have only just skimmed the surface! I find social media overwhelming, my brother says I am like Betty White with an iPhone! I genuinely believed that having few followers meant no business, when the inquiries started coming in and going full circle that’s when I realized it is about quality over quantity. I really value the customers I have and the time we have spent together finding exactly what they want. It has made all the struggling worthwhile.
On a more lighthearted note, I also struggled when I filmed my first IGTV. It took me days! Many recordings, redoing, rewriting; so on and so forth. I think I consumed 2 bottles of rose and made a handful of funny spoofs that I posted on my stories showing my struggle! At least someone got to laugh…
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons you learned from that?
Alicia Jane: I think the funniest mistake I made when I was first starting was when I took 9 loose stones to be mounted in a workshop on my first day. As you can imagine, our vaults are filled with an abundance of envelopes containing the stone and its certificate. I picked up the nine packets and off I went. When I got to the counter (and by the way I am 5ft tall so I can barely see over the top so I look like an infant holding thousands of pounds worth of stock and literally no one in the garden knew me at the time) I started unfolding each envelope one by one. To my horror, each envelope as I am going along is empty and the security guard next to me couldn’t stop laughing. He said he wished he had recorded my face as every single time I opened the next envelope, I continued to be just as shocked. I was RIDDLED with anxiety. Never mind me, the man behind the counter was looking at me like I was a sandwich short of a picnic! I had clearly picked up a bunch of empty certificates where the stones were already mounted in rings and were on display! I felt so silly.
BELIEVE WHEN I TELL YOU, THAT NEVER HAPPENED AGAIN, I ALWAYS CHECK! I think I aged about 5 years and got my doctor on speed dial for corrective Botox from the STRESS.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Alicia Jane: I think right now every single person, in one way or another, has been incredibly resilient. No one likes to be controlled and not know what’s coming next. Everyone has a story, whether it be a bad childhood, or a bad relationship, or a broken marriage. Everyone has their problems and it is down to each individual to be resilient and pick yourself back up.
I know that, in my life, there have been so many times I wanted to just throw in the towel! Life is all about getting back up and we have to train our minds to be strong. I truly believe that in this life, we create our own destiny.
When there have been times, especially in the last year, that I have found the pandemic to be a struggle; I find working in blocks and giving myself targets helps. Or, use an analogy, for example, maybe a golf match, I get to the fourth hole and I’m like okay Alicia you’ve done well and I know there’s much more to go but I am already on my way. If I thought of all 18 holes I would cry. It is all about resilience in this life and in owning your own business.
I also find that a good night of sleep and a morning routine is the key to my sanity. Every morning I wake up, I make my bed, go for a walk for an hour with my boyfriend at 6 A.M., I come back and make us breakfast and listen to classical music. I read my book on stoicism. I make his packed lunch for the office, then I shower and I start my day!
Without routine, without happiness and love in my life, it is exceedingly difficult to stay resilient to daily challenges.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Alicia Jane: It is challenging to compare one company against another in a market that is saturated yet somewhat laced with this intrinsic sense of community. Hatton Garden is filled mostly with family run businesses that have been here for many years. It is not easy being the new kid on the block, nor is it a walk in the park being a woman in such a male dominated market.
I think what sets my brand apart from others is the fact that I am me and that is my super power. My brand is for a woman, by a woman. No one has my flare of style or way with customers. The way I invest myself in relationships in comparison to many of the people that do the same thing here, is very different. I would rather have less sales and get to know what my customer wants so they are happy and that results in repeat business. I also have access to the most competitively priced mined and lab grown stock so that helps!
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Alicia Jane: If I had to choose, I’d say:
- Ambition: I am so ambitious, it is within me, it is running through my veins. I see myself building many different companies one day. Who knows, there could be an Alicia Jane enterprise!
- Tenacity: There are always going to be knockbacks, every day isn’t easy but this is the life I have chosen. There are also a lot of haters, people watching your every move complaining but just remember “The enemy wouldn’t be attacking you if something inside you wasn’t very valuable. Thieves don’t break into empty houses!…”
- Bravery: Go with your gut, always. Take risks!
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Alicia Jane: Absolutely! My brand is for a woman, by a woman. I can’t explain how important this has been in the short time I’ve been operating so far, it has been the key to rapid growth. I strive to create a brand, an entity, that other women relate to. Not just for the body of work but the journey of creation. With the nature of social media, my community is riding the wave to success with me. I hope that any girl that has a dream; will see my journey and know that anything is possible if you work hard enough for it. My time is the most valuable thing to me and every day is a total journey of self-evolution. People find it fascinating and it bewilders me that my personality intrigues people so much.
I am my brand, I am my customer, I am Alicia Jane.
How would you define “leadership”?
Alicia Jane: To me, I would define “leadership” as someone that has a following. I would never describe myself as a leader but essentially it is someone that pioneers a movement.
I hope to become a leader one day, someone that inspires and influences young women to dream big and work hard for what they want.
Do you think entrepreneurship is something that you’re born with or something that you can learn along the way?
Alicia Jane: I think some people have it and that’s great and some people don’t and that’s fine too. I don’t think there is a right and a wrong way of being in business. Some of the most successful people work for big organizations as part of a team and excel. Very few people have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Life isn’t easy and nor is being taken seriously in business until you achieve some sort of success. Everyone has to start from somewhere!
Personally, the traits I have are probably more aligned to someone that runs their own company and works for themselves instead of the other way around. If that makes me an entrepreneur then great. I am just very linear, I’m to the point, I’m decisive. I’m ready to go and I’m like with a hammer, just knocking away all the time. I just want to execute things and keep it moving. I’m ready for the next thing.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Alicia Jane: “We like to say that we don’t get to choose our parents, that they were given by chance — yet we can truly choose whose children we’d like to be.” — Seneca
I think this resonates so much with me because we don’t get to choose what life throws at us but we get to choose what kind of people we would like to be. Moreover any success, I hope to be an amazing wife and mother to my family one day. My family and friends are the most important thing in my life.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Alicia Jane for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
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