Jamie Bell is the Managing Director of Illuminated Mirrors, a brand that has made us become obsessed with #interiors. An accidental entrepreneur who fell upon his life in business purely by circumstance Jamie is creating waves in the industry.
Here, he tells us more about his challenging journey to where he is, plans for the future and so much more…
Tell us a bit about Illuminated Mirrors and your journey to getting where you are today?
In some ways, it all began in 2003 when I acquired a new next door neighbour. David was originally from the east end of London and reminded me of a clever Del Boy. We got along really well and I loved his tough and gritty attitude – he had been successful and unsuccessful in his life, but had a real get up and take-on-the-world attitude, no matter what came along! Now retired, he was selling used gold jewellery at a local market which he purchased by auction at Lloyds of London and he needed an apprentice to help with the selling – that’s where I decided to get involved. He had me going to local markets at the crack of dawn with an old wheelbarrow stacked full of thousands of pounds’ worth of jewellery in cabinet cases.
Though challenging and enjoyable, profits were seasonal and not at all regular. What’s more, if I’m completely honest, the early mornings and cold got a bit tedious! Fortunately it was around this time (2003/2004) that the website age first started to take off and a friend of mine knew someone who wanted to build his first e-commerce site (for free) to showcase to future clients. I jumped on the opportunity and he made my first website (now gone into the archives www.goldringsandthings.co.uk) where I put all the gold had. I ran this for two years and, although profits were not amazing, it gave me 24 months to teach myself everything – from my own product photography to customer service, SEO to website design. Once I began living and breathing in the world of online e-commerce, I was hooked and put 12 hours a day in every day teaching myself absolutely everything.
After this, nothing could really stop me and I started sourcing from the Far East. I developed relationships with factories through Skype and worked with many different companies to begin to grow my business. I succeeded because I respected these people and didn’t treat them as another faceless factory. I don’t fight down for price and I always try to share the wealth. This builds trust and respect. On the back of this, I get full support from every company I deal with. I have sold lots of products/projects over the years, including digital photo frames, designer wall aquariums, bathroom TVs, art and a lot more. But 2008 brought me to mirrors and the rest, as they say, is history…
What has been your highlight since launching the brand?
I’ve had huge deals and every single one is as exciting as the next – whether it’s clinching deals or supplying Hyatts hotels and even supplying B & Q – but my real passion is selling to normal people (like me!). The feedback we get about our products and customers is amazing and I genuinely still get a buzz from every single sale!
Describe Illuminated Mirrors in 3 words?
Passion. Driven. Fun
Who is involved in the brand?
I invented the Brand “The Diamond X Collection” and personally choose, research and develop every single product we sell. But my company is like a family, so all of us!
Tell us what a typical day in your life looks like?
Wake at 6.30am, walk dogs, meditate and buzz on work every single day. I have incredible people working with me and our team relationship is like nothing else. I love every single person I work with so my job is an absolute pleasure. I play golf twice a week and drum in a pub rock band in my spare time, but I work from home and see my family every single hour and wouldn’t have it any other way!
Before you launched the company, what did you do on the work front?
I fitted double glazing and braced early mornings on the market…
Who/what inspires you?
When I was 14, I had a fully-blown OCD which was extremely tough. After a year (and some treatment) it disappeared, and I was myself again. But, like too many, when I left school I partied hard for 10 years (too hard) until I met had my first proper relationship (still with my wife Susanne 18 years later!). Susanne got me on the straight and narrow, but I have always had glitches with anxiety/depression through times of stress. These periods are very tough, but I never stop fighting and will do anything to live and do what I love! Five years ago I started studying Buddhism and Meditation and this has turned my life around. I channel everything (including my anxiety) into a cause for good, my business and my family. I am a different person now to what I was 10 years ago and I feel enriched and amazed by every single day. I am very blessed. So, back to the question in hand, I have Buddhism as my inspiration and Eckhart Tolle and Ajhan Brahm are my inspirational leaders (you may have to google both of them). Neither are business leaders, but this doesn’t matter as business and life are all the same anyhow. Oh, and my wife is my inspiration as well – but that’s another story.
Are there any sources you go for support with running your business?
I use my General Manager Martin Agger. He is older and a lot wiser than me, and is part of why we are so successful today.
What are your plans for the brand in 2016?
SO much it makes my brain expand! We have huge things going on here, from going global to some incredible new products. We’ve only just scratched the surface so watch this space!
Did you always know that one day you would be an entrepreneur?
Not at all. I left school at 16 with little direction and poor GCSEs. I worked as an engineer apprentice for a year and then got bored and fitted double glazing with a mate’s father! I have done many other mundane, hard, manual jobs as well and looking back, this has actually taught me a lot more about life and work than any university could.
If there’s one thing you could get better at in business, what would it be?
To have more meetings. I don’t like wasting time talking, I like doing but I should balance it out a little more to be honest. I forget meetings are not just beneficial to me, but also to the guys I work with who can be helped by regular feedback and information.
For other people aspiring to run their own company, what advice would you give?
You have to be able to take risks. Educated risks are preferred, but there are times you really have to risk it to gain what you think you can achieve. A motto of mine is “you have to speculate to accumulate”
Believe in yourself and what you’re doing
Sounds Cliché, but you have to believe in what you want to achieve. Don’t just talk – act on 95% of good ideas and get them done! When I have a great idea (large or small) it is put into action within 24/48hrs. Many people can have fantastic ideas, but it’s the people that actually have the guts and put in hard work that get to do them. There are millions of talkers in this world and few people that actually do. Just remember, anybody can do anything – you just have to do it!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – the best entrepreneurs are rarely experts at one single skill. Jack-of-all-trades sums me up but, when I need to focus on specific things I’m not as knowledgeable on, I am humble enough to ask people who know a lot more than me. You have to trust the world. If you think and act negatively then this is what you get back. I am positive about every single collaboration I make with people. If it goes wrong (and it has at times) a ‘can’t win them all’ attitude kicks in and I accept it and move on.
Have goals (either written down or in your mind – mine are all in my head) but never feel the need to tell everybody about them. They are for you and you alone!
Karma in business.
Treat competitors and other businesses with respect and how you would like to be treated. Healthy competition is fine, but a cut-throat attitude (in my opinion at least) is simply not needed or good for you. It will eat you away and you will lose your focus on what this is truly about – your development for success.
Sounds corny but you have to love it. If you don’t, you may survive for a while but it’s going to fizzle. Business doesn’t have to be deadly serious. I mess about a lot of the time with my work friends and I don’t take it so serious that it makes me stressed or ill (anymore!!).
I love spending time with my family but I also adore Monday mornings (sounds sad but it really isn’t!).
Making money and creating what you want are easy – it’s the believing you can make it that is the hardest part. Overcome the belief and you can pretty much get whatever you want.
Would you do anything differently?
This may sound big headed but, to be honest, not a single thing. All my bad experiences have taught me a lesson, every single time. Without these we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Another Cliché (I love my sayings) is “you learn by your mistakes” which is SO TRUE!!! You have to have bad to relish the good. It’s all a balance. It’s the way it’s meant to be, you just have to be able to handle it and not resist what is. Every day I learn something new, both good and bad, but that’s the nature of life and it’s the same in business. Embrace every minute of it and success will appear for you.
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