Celebrating John & James Baldwin on International Men’s Day 2019

Today marks International Men’s Day and I felt it was important to highlight the fact that we have two rather incredible men under our roof here at Baldwin Jewellery.

According to the International Men’s Day website

On November 19 International Men’s Day celebrates worldwide the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities. We highlight positive role models and raise awareness of men’s well-being. Our theme is “Making a difference for men and boys.”

When I first started working for Baldwin Jewellery, it didn’t take me long to realise that John and James Baldwin have a pretty special relationship. As a Father and Son team, I’ve been keen to explore how they work together and whether James was always destined to follow in his Father’s footsteps in jewellery design and join the family business. Owing to the fact they’re also both very modest men, I wanted to seize the opportunity on this special day to talk to both of them about what it’s like working together and to find out a bit more about the future of Baldwin Jewellery.

Like Father, Like Son…

I sat down with John and James and asked how they felt about working together, John was quick in saying “I love working with James, I’m so proud of him” to which James added “and I feel exactly the same” John continued, “I think the great thing is that when a Son or a Daughter joins a company that their Father set up, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be at the same level as the parent or have the same skills, and I’ve been very fortunate in that James has tremendous artistic skills”

John continued, “I never encouraged him to join the firm when he was little, I didn’t want to force him into a business that he didn’t want to come into. I’ve seen so many Sons and Daughters pushed into their parents businesses and they’ve always resented it as they didn’t have their own life”

John and James Baldwin have been working together for some time now, so naturally, I wanted to know when did James join the business. “I did actually start quite early, when I was a kid, I’d wrap presents at Christmas” remembers James, “I bought him a waistcoat!” added John. James laughed and carried on “I was really quiet, nervous and very shy in those days. I did try a few other things, I had other jobs and I went to University but my heart wasn’t really in it. Dad and I had a chat and I said to him I want to come into the business. I’d already had a bit of an insight into how it worked and found it interesting. Dad gave me projects to do and I had a go at making jewellery at the bench”

John carried on “James had seen how hard I’d worked to build this business and seen my reputation and skills, and he wanted to carry it on” James agreed, “Yes, since I was a little boy, I’d seen Dad work so hard and build his business, he has been a great role model and I knew that no matter what I did, I wanted to keep the business going. I think because of that I was always destined to come into it”

After James joined the business, John arranged for him to make the most of gaining as much experience as possible, “I arranged for him to work for different people in the jewellery trade, so he broadened his outlook on the jewellery industry and gained skills that weren’t present in our business already” John recalled. “I went off to Birmingham to learn about casting and I worked for a big wedding ring firm who made rings on a huge scale. I did courses on gemstones and jewellery design and spent a couple of years learning” James said.

“I felt it was important that he could build his knowledge away from my influence, because I didn’t want James to be a copy of me” John added.

I also pointed out that it must be very nice for John to be able to have someone within the family to continue the business he has worked so hard for and keep the Baldwin Jewellery name going. John nodded in enthusiastic agreement and said “My life has been invigorated and enriched by working with James and since he has taken more of an important role within the business, I respect the direction he wants to go”. James added, “Yes, a lot of family teams don’t work because the Father doesn’t want to relinquish control over anything and Dad was very forward thinking and any ideas that I had he embraced, he’s always been very positive with anything I’ve wanted to try, he’s been very open to us modernising”

John agreed, “I realise that I have my limitations from my age and the period of time I built the business and things have changed. You need to embrace more modern and forward thinking ideas and quite often I’ve felt that if we want to take this business forward we have to change. I’ve always changed, I’ve always embraced modern technology”. John recalls how he was one of the first people in the country to use Computer Aided Design to create jewellery, when no one else knew how to use it. He was also one of the first people to produce specialist casting machinery.

“It’s due to the desire to move forward that I’ve always supported James and what he wants to do, I feel if we’re going to work together it’s not my right to stop him. Because of that, I love coming to work, it’s a real adventure for me. Every day is an adventure and I have never felt so happy about the way the business is going” James agreed. John added “I feel that I have got a new life working with my Son, I feel as though I am back at the very beginning of my business”

James smiled and added “Something else we’ve talked about is that it’s so nice to have someone to share it with. Because when you’re on your own in business, like Dad was at the beginning and having to deal with all the hard times on your own, it can be very lonely” John agreed, “It’s really nice to be in it together”.

I hope you enjoyed this small insight into the inner workings of Baldwin Jewellery and my celebration of International Men’s Day 2019. You only have to see the way John and James work together to realise that not only do they have a very special Father and Son relationship but they also have a fantastic working partnership too.

The continued success of John Baldwin’s business, which he started in 1966 is testament to their hard work, talent, passion and dedication to ensure the Baldwin Jewellery name lives on.

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Written by – Kate Wright