Meet the Enterprise Nation member: The personalised jewellery brand loved by royalty

Meet the Enterprise Nation member: The personalised jewellery brand loved by royalty

Posted: Thu 26th Oct 2017

Getting royal recognition once is an achievement for a small business, but to get it twice is amazing!

Enterprise Nation member Beatrice De Montille has done just that with her personalised jewellery business, Merci Maman.

The French born entrepreneur, who is celebrating the business' 10th anniversary this year, received a prestigious Queen's Award and when the Duchess of Cambridge was spotted wearing a Merci Maman product, the orders flooded in!

Beatrice is now expanding her personalised jewellery business around the world, a development that was helped by taking part in an Enterprise Nation trade mission to Berlin in 2016.

Want us to tell your story? Become a member of Enterprise Nation today for only £10 a month or £99 a year and get lots of amazing small business benefits.

Describe your business in one sentence.

Merci Maman is a timeless brand offering original and charming personalised jewellery, hand-engraved with precision in our workshops and delivered to our customers worldwide.

How did you come up with your idea and turn it into an actual business?

After having my second child I wanted more flexibility at work, and to have a better work-life balance.

One day I called a shop in France to buy a personalised gift for my daughter but the owner was unwilling to send it to the UK. That gave me the idea; quality, personalised products shipped to your doorstep.

As a mum, I also thought it would be ideal to order online. With toddlers, time is limited and you can't just go shopping on a whim.

It seemed there was a real opportunity for stylish, personalised products and a convenient online service.

What start-up challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The key challenge has been to recruit the right people and once they have joined the team, make them grow by keeping their curiosity and can-do attitude at a high level.

I strongly believe that to keep your staff motivated in a job and performing well, curiosity is key.

Of course, younger team members need to learn from their more experienced colleagues but more importantly, they need to keep on learning by themselves; self training and questioning the way they do things, instead of expecting the hierarchy to tell them what to do.

In a small company this is vital and this is often what attracts people to work in a company like Merci Maman.

You become a multi-tasker and after a few years you can carve a role that matches your personality and builds on your skills so that you become a specialist. It often takes time to discover who you are and what you are good at.

What has been your biggest achievement with your business so far?

To win the Queen's Award 2017 was amazing recognition! We had the honour of meeting Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace in July.

We couldn't have dreamt of a better gift for our 10th anniversary. It's a royal seal of approval for our entire team, a reward that encourages us to grow further!

We were also very fortunate to discover that the Duchess of Cambridge was spotted wearing a personalised Merci Maman charm necklace following the birth of her son, Prince George.

This resulted in massive press coverage and social-media buzz around our brand and the 'Duchess' necklace.

Our company has since followed an international path, enabling us to more than double the team and open our first overseas workshop in Paris.

What is your next big business goal?

My plans for Merci Maman are very ambitious as we want to become the destination brand for personalised jewellery in Europe.

We have established a strong presence in the UK through our website and are still growing strongly thanks to new marketing initiatives and PR.

We opened our second workshop in Paris last year and are already planning to open a third one in Berlin in 2018.

We are also working on investing in new countries and plan to translate our website in Spanish and Italian.

What do you think will be your biggest challenge getting there?

The main challenge will be to keep the team spirit the same as we grow, everyone always having our values in mind: Make, Grow, Try, Share.

How has Enterprise Nation helped your business?

We started working with Entreprise Nation in 2016 when we participated to the Go Global trade mission to Berlin.

It enabled us to make connections, better understand the specifics of the German market and to meet bloggers. A great first step in the country!

Since then, we have more than doubled our sales to Germany and we will be investing even more in the country in the first quarter of 2018 by opening a workshop and showroom in Berlin.

Which other entrepreneur inspires you and why?

Cecile Reinaud, mum-of-two, is also a true business-inspiration for me.

She founded Seraphine in 2002 and now she has stores across the world and has become an international leader in fashionable maternity wear.

I admire her hard work and her determination, which have made her the go-to brand for expectant mums.

What are your three tips for business success based on your experiences so far?

It's all about the customer; knowing them and listening to them. Believe passionately in your product; be innovative and fresh; create a reason for your customer to return.

Humility, coupled with ambition and hard work. I don't know everything, I have my limitations and always need others to help or even rescue me! Merci Maman is a success but that's down to the team, not just to one person. Recognising that you are not always right and, more importantly, being able to listen and ask for help is a really good lesson learnt.

It is important to be absolutely committed and utterly dedicated to what you are doing. Establish what you are good at and stick to it.

Want us to tell your story? Become a member of Enterprise Nation today for only £10 a month or £99 a year and get lots of amazing small business benefits.

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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