I met Jane around three years ago and I have been enchanted from the first second I saw her. She is beautiful, elegant, with a perfect diction, a lady in the real sense of the word. She was wearing a salmon dress, with medium slim heels, with a perfect hair (even though she woke up at 4 a.m. and she just landed in Luxembourg).
I knew we were going to work great together – we had great chemistry from the moment we met; she knows marketing like no one else, she considers advertising as being art and she believes, just like me, that less is better when you work in public relations.
I think my words are just keeping you away from this interesting interview so let’s start.
For me, you are a real English lady, with style, glamour, the perfect accent. Could you please tell me a little bit more about you and how you started as a businesswoman?
My first job was in advertising with Harrods, the famous department store in London. I worked on their fashion press adverts with an illustrator in Paris, and on their mail-order catalogues for Christmas, wine and linens. This was a fantastic window on a world of glamour and luxury retail, very unlike my upbringing in the countryside. After a couple of years I moved to another store in Knightsbridge, Harvey Nichols. This had undergone a huge revamp and was very cutting edge in terms of its merchandise, windows and campaigns. My role here encompassed PR as well as advertising and I worked on their seasonal fashion shows. I then joined a PR firm specialising in fashion, hair, beauty and fragrance – this was fun and I travelled to Europe regularly for the Paris fashion shows and to New York where I worked with Ralph Lauren.
At the age of 25, I set up my own PR company – mainly in the fashion and beauty business, but also health, property and hospitality sectors. Over the years this grew and we expanded our services to encompass marketing consultancy alongside PR, advertising and promotions. We also moved steadily but surely away from the B2C market into B2B and although I sometimes (often!) miss the buzz of designer shoes, or the latest beauty products, I much prefer helping businesses to interact successfully with each other.
For the past 20 years, we have focused on the aviation sector and we work with a broad cross section of clients within the industry who support airlines: leasing companies, MROs, manufacturers, traders and so on. I am extremely proud of our international customer base and the fact that they consider us an integral part of their team. Our work today encompasses strategy and planning, as well as the normal marketing disciplines. I like to say that we bring a bit of fashion thinking to the world of aircraft parts and our clients like our different approach to branding and communication in general.
Could you please tell me a few words about your family? I know one of your sons lives in Vancouver
I have been married for 36 years to my husband Christopher. He is now retired and focuses on his wine collection and lunching with friends, although he also manages the financial side of the business. My eldest son Matthew works in the automotive sector, his partner Vikki is a deputy head teacher at a primary school and they are expecting a baby in August, so I will be a grandmother soon. My youngest son Joshua lives and works in Vancouver. He designs and makes furniture out of reclaimed wood www.woodonceagain.com. His partner Emma is a marketing and content manager for a financial start-up fund specialising in the finance and insurance sector in Canada.
How did you know that marketing was the area you would like to explore?
I didn’t really. I started out by considering my best topics at school which were English and Art and looking for a job that would combine them – hence I thought of advertising. My expertise in marketing has been built up over the years through personal experience and research – also working with many great people across a variety of industries from whom I learn new things every day.
How did marketing and PR change since you started the company?
I cannot begin to start with this one! I started work before personal computers and fax machines. The pace was slower, but there was time to think and to be creative. Nowadays responses are dashed off in seconds, decisions reverberate around the world before you have time to blink. Connectivity has many advantages, but I sometimes hanker for those simpler times.
How did you go into marketing for aviation?
Purely by accident – it was a case of meeting someone who wanted help to market their business and that was Christopher Whiteside, CEO of AJW Aviation. He was brave enough to go along with our creative ideas for his brand and it was an extremely successful partnership that lasted more than 15 years. During that time we became immersed in the industry and one contact led to another. Aviation is maybe a global industry, but it is also a small world. We have worked hard to build a reputation for work of a very high standard and establish strong relationships with the media that are based on trust and reliability.
Could you please tell me more about your hobbies and your talent?
I don’t have time for many hobbies. I enjoy painting and drawing, gardening and cooking. I also I am lucky to live in the countryside so I can go on long walks from doorstep through ancient woodlands. I do go to the gym, but not out of any sense of fun!
Would you have liked to do something else?
I have often envisaged myself as a barrister, but I am not clever enough for that. So perhaps the owner of a spectacular ultimate luxury resort hotel complex in Tuscany, just checking the fresh flowers are perfect…
Would you change your job?
I have run my own business for almost 40 years so it would probably be hard to work for someone else. However if I had my time again I would have a group of hairdressing salons, maybe five. All in towns within a 30 minute drive of each other so I could switch staff, buy products with bulk discount, collectively advertise/promote etc. Whatever the economic issues of the day may be, hair always grows and highlights need re-doing!
Can you please give me some advice of how to be so successful and yet to remain so feminine and elegant? How can a woman have it all (family, career and style)?
Always be prepared to listen before speaking. Work hard, but always be ready to switch off completely. Try not to answer emails after 6 p.m. And of course, ”take a lover in the afternoon.”
What is your favourite English dish? Do you cook? What is your favourite restaurant in the UK?
Impossible to say, but if you asked my family they would choose my steak & kidney pie with a suet pastry crust, it is English cooking at the ultimate level.
Yes, I cook from scratch every day.
Because of its history (established in 1798), its décor and ambience, my favourite restaurant has to be Rules in London. It is a true experience for the senses, but don’t go if you are on a diet or like nouvelle cuisine because it is English classic cooking through and through.
What is your favourite travel destination and why?
I love Italy and it is easy to get to. However the most wonderful place I have ever been is Rajasthan in India. We were lucky to have a first class holiday there including the Maharaja’s Express train, stunning palace hotels and superb service. The colour, architecture, atmosphere, nature – everything about it was fabulous – including playing elephant polo and seeing two tigers in the wild.
What is the location of travel, you recommend for non-English tourists, in the UK and why?
The true essence of the UK is found in the small villages. Every county has them, unique homes and churches, good food in pubs, quirky shops. Wherever you travel, get off the motorways and head out into the countryside – May and September are the best months.
Could you tell me something specific about the English people that only English people would know?
English aren’t the best when it comes to showing our emotions or even saying what we mean. But we know that we’re very far from being emotionally dead, we love and cry like everyone. However, to the rest of the world we stay tight-lipped, we always keep calm and just carry on, whatever the situation. A great philosophy for life and a very British one – we can’t help it.