To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021, we have invited some of the CMJ’s inspirational female members to talk about experiences in their careers and the jewellery and watch industry in general. Here we meet Allison Aldridge, director of retailer Neil & Barker in Widnes, Cheshire.
What is your career background?
I worked as a secretary for five years before joining the family business, which sold furniture, carpets and soft furnishings as well as jewellery and gifts, in 1986. I studied Interior Design and developed the furniture side of the business to include commercial interiors, hotels and show homes. Then in 2000 I moved over to the jewellery side of the business and trained through JET for a Gem Diploma to gain more direct jewellery knowledge.
As a female business owner, is there anything you have done or want to do in the workplace to support gender equality?
I have never had an issue with gender equality. In retail it’s all about the personal skills and communication abilities that create the opportunities for people. Including staff members in decision making can give them higher aspirations and make them feel included and valued.
We are all for celebrating women’s achievements. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
I think being there for my family and bringing us all together is probably my greatest achievements – and having a hole in one at Delamere Forest Golf Club.
Do you have a female role model and how has she influenced/inspired your career?
My mum – she taught me so much. Life is about hard work, compassion, the ability to accept people for who they are and be generous giving back to those less fortunate. She moulded me into who I am today.
What would be your one message to other women starting out in their careers now?
Have passion and commitment in whatever you do but most of all you must enjoy your chosen path.
What does International Women’s Day and this year’s #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
We must all be more transparent and accepting – and not discriminate but empower more women in whatever role they chose for the future.
You can read more International Women’s Day features on our blog. Let us know what you think in the comments section.