Stepping into the fashion industry, or any industry for that matter is undoubtedly a daunting task. As you prepare to take the plunge, a whirlpool of uncertainty awaits your first mistakes – and what of the challenge of overcoming detractors within your social circles, or worse yet, within yourself?
Whether overloaded with confidence or not, these are the anxieties that come from kicking off the stabilizers on the road to building something of your own. On his journey to build an independent jewelry brand steeped in luxury, these are moments that Henry Goodfellow, Founder of Chained and Able, knows all too well.
Like the guarded gates of luxury fashion, infiltrating a market synonymous with names like Tiffany & Co. and Cartier may seem insurmountable, and yet, fledging jewelry designers are carving paths towards these peaks.
With costume jewelry stripped from his brand's offering in the next stage of its evolution towards luxury status, Henry unveils his vision for Chained & Able.
When did you first launch the brand, and what was the thought process behind stepping into the field? Did you have any prior experience?
I launched the brand aged 16 in 2009, without any industry experience. At the time, I was an apprentice in civil and structural engineering, craving a creative outlet – I'd always had a fascination with jewelry which began at around five years old, born of visits to my grandma's house, where I used to get to look through her collections.
What’s it like building a jewelry brand from the ground up?
I think the process of building from the ground up for everyone is naturally intimidating. From founding the brand, even up until now, I spent a lot of time in situations with imposter syndrome. That being said, the business grew within 2 years, faster than I could have ever anticipated.
Unexpected, fast-paced growth must come with its own set of unique challenges. What sort of challenges have you faced in the past decade (and some change)?
Honestly, it's been mental. There are always ups and downs, from gaining my first supplier, losing them, facing general supply chain issues, dealing with big box retailers, to packing 180 boxes on my own for an ASOS order in 24 hours, to then end up exiting the business with ASOS, and managing cashflow. In the end, it's all worth it for the big moments like passing 10 years in business.
In overcoming some of these challenges, were there any key skills you found you needed to develop as the brand evolved?
By far, the biggest skill I've gained has been managing my mental health throughout the business growth. In the process of overcoming all of the ups and downs that I mentioned, you naturally acquire numerous other skills along the way, even if you don't realize it.
Chained & Able's most recent development has seen you remove one of its foundations in costume jewelry – how did you decide to remove it from your offering?
When I first started manufacturing products, these pieces were all I could afford to produce. As the retail business continued to grow to a point, that was where the revenue and growth were at the time. The choice to remove it from the offering altogether came with time, but also with me maturing from a designer to a jeweler.
Now, I want to design and make product that reflects me as a jewelry designer and lasts my customers for life.
Has this decision altered the direction of the brand, or was this always something you’d planned/hoped for?
This direction was my dream when I began. I’ve always wanted to make sterling silver and solid gold made in the UK and Italy. It's all part of my want to be recognized as a jewelry designer.
Obviously, this is a pretty big shift for the business. How do you see this transition altering perceptions of the brand, if at all?
Hopefully, people will respect the direction that I'm taking.
What’s next for Chained & Able?
One of the main things that I'm currently investigating is moving into using recycled sterling silver and gold because another goal of mine is to make the brand as sustainable as possible.