We sat down with Melanie Smith, our Operations Manager here at Jermyn Street Design to discuss everything, from her career and what she likes to do on a Sunday, to challenges facing the industry such as ethical sourcing and sustainability.
What motivates you at work?
The desire to improve. I improve by learning from the knowledge and experience of the people I work with – they inspire me. I also read as much as possible and perhaps most valuable of all, I learn from my mistakes.It’s what keeps us current and energised. If I improve, I can help the people around me improve, which leads to greater contentment and achievement within the team, and ultimately greater success for the company.
What do you admire most about your team?
The community spirit at all times. We genuinely get along and everyone is happy to pull together to solve whatever challenge may come our way.
What makes Jermyn Street Design different?
The passion, from top to bottom and that everyone’s voice is valued. We are a small team of specialists all with varied backgrounds and we all support each other to make sure we go the extra mile for our clients. However, what makes us different is that we always strive to be honest and transparent. We work with each client’s brief and ensure that we can always keep our promises whether this is budget or timescale.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Working with such a talented group of people is amazing and I genuinely enjoy coming into the office every day. The biggest sense of satisfaction and achievement comes from seeing a new range being worn by the client’s staff for the first time in their place of work. It makes all the hard work worth it!
What is the most difficult part of the supply chain process and how do you overcome this?
The ethical and environmental issues are probably the most difficult. I am lucky to be working at a company already concerned with, and actively addressing both of these, however the industry still has a long way to go. At JSD, we use Sedex as a forum for all suppliers to share their audits, which are detailed and extensive. This gives me visibility on where improvements have been made or where more work is needed. It will always be a work in progress and there will always be more to do.
How important is sustainability and ethical sourcing?
Ethical sourcing is vital because everyone deserves to feel safe in the workplace, and feel they have choice. A choice of where to work, where to live, a choice to work over-time and be paid a reasonable rate to live on.It is the responsibility of every company, regardless of the industry, to ensure that the well-being of their staff comes before profit.Businesses that are not concerned with ethical sourcing and sustainability risk repeating the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013, which saw over 1,000 people crushed to death and 2,500 injured, when the building they were working in collapsed. At present, change is too little and too slow. However, organisations like the Ethical Fashion Forum are providing a platform for people to speak out and keep reminding people that more change is needed.
Tell us about a particularly challenging project you have been involved in and how you overcame this.
The biggest challenge so far was when we won 4 new clients virtually at the same time and had to make 45 new patterns and samples in 6 weeks to ensure we hit the critical path date. It required daily management but everyone pulled out all the stops and we did it. I’ve been with Jermyn Street for 8 months now and I am tremendously proud of what we have achieved in that time.
What have been the most valuable lessons of your career?
- March to the beat of your own drum.
- You should grow and learn every day so find a person to work for who believes in you and inspires you.
What is your favourite item of clothing you own?
My YMC yellow lambs- wool jumper. It feels like a hug every time I put it on.
What is your favourite thing to do on a Sunday to unwind after a busy week at work?
Yoga followed by brunch on Portobello Road – Electric Diner does the best Bloody Mary in London!