1. When did you first have an interest in designing jewelry?
I had an interest in owing my own company when I was 12. I told my Grandmother at her dining room table that I wanted to own my own company and travel the world one day. I didn’t know at the time it was going to be designing & importing jewellery from around the globe, just that I wanted to be a business owner. When she died many years ago she reminded me of our conversation and she said “You did it Kenny”. The jewellery business just happened. I was working for a very high end clothing company back in the late 80’s early 90’s . There was a sales position for a jewellery sales rep selling to retail stores across Ontario. I decided to apply and I got the job. So with 2 full time jobs I had to let one go. I decided to take on the new job full time and eventually from that Kenneth Bell Sales began. That was in 1993 and I have never looked back since, 27 years later.
2. When did you open your first store?
I opened my first retail store in Port Hope October 31, 2003 to instant success. Then store #2 came and so on until I had 6 retail stores PLUS my international Wholesale business. I was a pretty busy guy with 3 kids as well.
3. What are your favorite pieces to create?
I love working with metals. I love mixing metals as well. This means doing a 2 tone gold/silver combo or a tri colour effect adding in the very popular rose gold or hematite. I find working with metals has a longer shelf life for the consumer as they can wear these necklaces & earrings all year long.
4. What major companies do you supply for?
I sell to mostly independent fashion boutiques. A few chains but mostly independent stores .
5. What is your most expensive item you’ve ever made and what was it?
I produced a Swarovski crystal necklace for a client of mine . I don’t usually do this as my price point is on average around 30.00 retail but this was a very special request.
6. How can people contact you to purchase your fabulous jewelry?
www.kennethbell.com is my website. All my info is there
7. How many stores did you originally open?
I opened 5 stores on my own and someone bought a Kenneth Bell Store and opened it in Peterborough in the early 2000’s
8. How are you changing the nature of your business ventures in the near future?
I have sold or just waited until my lease expired on most of my stores. I have one left in my home town of Port Hope. This lease is up in September and I will not be renewing. I am happy to be online and on the road selling my jewellery to my retail stores. I also do 20 trade shows per year so that keeps me very busy. I find that having a bricks & mortar store is no longer needed in my business. I still believe in retail boutiques for people to go to but for where I am going in my business I no longer need an actual store front. I just want to concentrate on my wholesale division however anyone can still buy online as my entire collection is on my website @ www.kennethbell.com
9. Where do you see your career in 5 years?
I see my career in 5 years continuing with my wholesale presence and online presence. Plus hopefully doing my trade shows. Unfortunately they have come to a halt due to the pandemic, however I am certain eventually trade shows will start up again in the near future.
10. What is it like to be such a well known person in your community?
I’m just me and I think if you are just yourself and your’re a kind, honest soul people really like that.
11. Who are your fashion inspirations?
I get my ideas from travelling the world and looking at magazines and especially now online
12. What is yoir advice to those wanting to break into the fashion jewelry industry?
When I started in this fun crazy business there was not a lot of competition. Now it seems everyone is selling jewellery. The reason I am still here is my customer service. If you don’t build relationships and if you do not have exceptional customer service then you might as well pack it up. I have had 100’s and 100’s of people ask me throughout the years is it hard to get into this business. I always say absolutely not. It is not difficult at all to get into the business, it’s staying in the business that is the challenge. People think they can just set up shop and the people will come. Well trust me it doesn’t work that way. It takes time to build relationships and for people to trust you. You have to have passion for any business especially if it’s a business dealing with the public. They can see right through you if you’re putting on a show. Be passionate about what you do. Be honest. Have integrity Be kind. Engage your customers. Things like this go a long way.
I pounded the pavement going from store to store selling my jewellery in every climate. I never gave up even if people didn’t want to see me or buy from me. You need to put in the time for success. It rarely just comes to you. I look back at all the hard work and I have to say I am pretty proud of myself and my TEAM for how far we’ve come. I BELIEVE in my product and that is key, Believing in what you do as that translates into being prosperous and consumer confidence. If your customers believe in you and trust you, then you’re already more than half way to having a very successful business!
Bruce; Thank you so much for stopping by my blog!
Kenneth Bell; Thank you Bruce!!!
Author Bruce Christopher
Edited by Bruce Christopher
Editor Martin Rye