Birmingham’s fashion and jewellery start-ups offered tips by historic city firm

Top buyers from Selfridges and Oliver Bonas
• Successful brands share their start-up stories including city-based Deakin & Francis
• All you need to know about funding and support from experts including Fashion Angel, HSBC and StartUp Direct
• Learn how to sell designs via an online marketplace

The seventh generation head of an historic city family jeweller is set to offer priceless inspiration to brands right at the beginning of their start-up journey, at a top industry event next month /October 4.

Henry Deakin, one half of Deakin & Francis, the firm his family started in 1786 In the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, will address the audience at the Fashion and Jewellery Exchange about how he and his brother James helped to polish up the 230-year-old business – taking it to a glittering new level as it prepares to open the first ever shop in the firm’s long history.

The day-long session at Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery is designed to help young start-ups turn style into profit and is part of the Exchange series of events run by small business support group Enterprise Nation , which help to join big businesses up with small for trade.

It will also see ambitious fashionistas pick up chachet as they live pitch their designs to top buyers at Selfridges in front of a city audience.

Henry said:

“We are immensely proud to be opening our first flagship Deakin & Francis store this year. It’s taken over 230 years to get to this point, so you can imagine that the journey has involved a few ups and downs.

“In terms of the brand, this is going from strength to strength and we are incredibly grateful that our customer base is growing globally; and so, there really couldn’t be a better time for us to open a store. It’s the perfect way to commemorate our impressive heritage, but also the next natural step in taking our quintessential British brand to the next level.

“It’s a great honour to be able to pass some of the priceless lessons learned over the years on to new ambitious fashion and jewellery brands at the Fashion & Jewellery Exchange – although it’s going to be a busy time for us as we expect to be opening the doors of our new store in Mayfair that very week!”

Enterprise Nation’s Birmingham champ and event organiser Debbie Assinder said:

“Deakin & Francis is a remarkable Birmingham business that has firmly stood the test of time, bringing its historic brand bang up to date. It’s living evidence of the city’s rich history dating back to the industrial revolution. Today, more than 500 jewellery-related businesses are still based here and there is a growing fashion scene.

“While it’s not all about knowing the right people or being in the right place at the right time, the Fashion and Jewellery Exchange is a great opportunity to make the kind of contacts young brands need to take them to the next level – as well as hearing inspirational success stories and picking up the tips and skills needed to kick-start and run a successful retail business.”

Henry added:

“My three tips to new brands would be: Number one, find a niche in the market and own it. The second would be quality – keep your standards high in everything you do! Three, have some fun! Remember you work to live not live to work!”

The event will also hear from Rosie Wolfenden, one half of quirky ‘wearable art’ brand and British institution Tatty Devine and Oliver Bonas buyer and Birmingham School of Jewellery graduate Rebecca Jones will offer insight into what the high street brand is looking for when it comes to fashion and jewellery suppliers. You can also hear from the founder of TD Davies who is the largest maker of bespoke glasses in the world and includes Angelina Jolie, Ed Sheeran and Kevin Spacey among his clients!

Alison Lewy, director of fashion investment and advisory firm Fashion Angel will talk about the essential stand-out ingredients young brands need to develop to get noticed.

There will also be a chance to hear the start-up journeys of local fashion and jewellery brands including award-winning James Newman Jewellery and Hockley-based Crescent Silver.

A panel of top fashion PR experts will take questions from the floor on how to present a new brand and get noticed by the press.

The day starts at 10am and will be hosted by Emma Jones, MBE.

Those interested in live pitching to Selfridges can apply at

Find out more and book tickets here

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