We got the opportunity to have a chat with April Joynes, Owner and founder of Whiskers Jet. We chatted to her about a typical day in her career, her inspirations and what inspires her and ultimately to Trust your instincts!
I started out at the age of 14 working on Nottingham indoor market on a Saturday I loved earning my own money and meeting new people, then at the age of 16 I started a YTS at Sainsbury’s and carried on in retail until 1996 I then became restless and I knew I needed a new challenge I’d always liked numbers so applied for and got a job in accounts at a hotel I then progressed on to PA to General Manager and then from there on to HR. I didn’t enjoy HR although I loved working and helping people in this role it just wasn’t for me. From there I went to work in the concierge and lifestyle world meeting many fantastic people along the way however I still had dreams of running my own business so moved on to start my own dream.
On a typical working day I wake up each morning before I even get out of bed I’m reaching for my phone I know I should wait until I start the day at a normal pace and time however checking my emails and any sales that may have come through from the evening before is too much of a temptation, my mind then flicks straight to stock I’m constantly look to buy Vintage Jewellery so check all the vintage outlets in order to secure the best stock and prices I can find.
I finally make it to my desk where I boot up my laptop and start researching any incoming stock this is the part that I absolutely love I’ve always liked history so to link vintage jewellery to its origins is so important I think it gives the pieces soul and depth it brings them back to life even the unnamed unstamped pieces are researched if I can’t find the manufacturer or designers I’ll throw a photo and question out to the antique and vintage community I’m part of to identify and in return I do the same for them. Sometimes an unnamed piece won’t give up any of its secrets and will remain a mystery, so I try to link the era into the description instead of the manufacturer or maker.
I recently bought a very ornate brooch it was described as silver and gilt brooch by the seller it arrived in a sorry state it was covered in purple paint of some kind, I set to work on cleaning the paint off normally I will leave the patina intact as it forms part of the beautiful visual history however on this occasion I couldn’t after it was cleaned it revealed the most gorgeous Gold Washed Silver Etruscan Brooch I’d ever seen my jaw literally dropped to the floor it was stamped by the maker as FIGLI DI VITTORIO FRANCONERI di LIDIA FRANCONERI & C, Via Mannelli, 163, Florence (Firenze) it was registered on May 22,1935 that’s 75 years old it’s a rare one-off piece.
I’ve bought a Max Neiger brooch to put up for sale. After researching this piece it made me sad and thankful I’d had the privilege to handle a piece of their artwork. I say art because their jewellery is so detailed it’s amazing.
Max and Norbert Neiger started a company in 1905 in Gablonz Czechoslovakia making and selling jewellery until the outbreak of the second world war in 1939 they had to flee the advancing army and went to Bohemia where they ran a scaled-down jewellery operation for 3 years however they were later arrested in Prague and were sent to their death at Auschwitz.
Two weeks later it sold but I knew it would because of the history I was sorry to see it go so strong was the emotional attachment to their story and the brooch in my hand in fact I nearly kept it.
Choosing the perfect career
I originally drew some designs for a sock line and the feedback was good however I couldn’t afford to launch them and didn’t want to borrow to launch my company which I suppose is a little old fashioned but that’s me so I decided to sell my unworn vintage jewellery to raise funds to launch the company however during that time I realised I loved researching, buying and selling antique and vintage jewellery so kept on doing so.
I spent 10 years working in the hotel industry from Accounts, PA to General Manager and HR where I literally got stuck into anything that landed on my desk including operations I thrived in this environment as I’ve always liked to be very busy and learn new things however once I’d entered the HR world my love of the job dropped away I didn’t feel suited to the position at all, my mum was terminally ill at the time and she said to me “Why are you in a job you dislike life’s too short” after talking to my husband that same week I resigned which was the best decision I ever made it gave me time to spend with my mum and to refocus on what I wanted to do moving forward.
Drive and determination
I’d been thinking of going out on my own for a few years however I fell at the first hurdles on a couple of occasions because I wasn’t in the right business then a couple of years ago I met and worked with an ex-footballer he gave me the determination to go and change things he said you need to go and do what makes you happy don’t put it off otherwise you will never be happy that for me that was the turning point.
My greatest achievement in my career was having the guts to start out on my own after I’d fallen a few times. It's hard to drag yourself back up to start again. Trust your instincts and just go for it life’s too short to be in a job you don’t like or enjoy and if you are struggling to move on because of money spend time picking up any available training and tips from those around you so when you move on your ready to face a new challenge with the knowledge and tools you will need.
Advice to young businesswomen
Look for a Career that makes you happy because you’re a long time at work if you don’t enjoy it. Push for training within your job- it makes such a difference when you’re ready to move on. If you didn’t get the grades or job you wanted go to night school don’t let yourself be held back by yourself. Every person you meet is a potential door to a new opportunity professionally or personally.
Take a wide view on your organisation look beyond your role know your material and the companies from the ground up, take every training session offered and push for ones that aren’t and find yourself a great mentor they often have a huge amount of knowledge at their fingertips from years of experience and if they can pass this on to you in a shorter space of time your already ahead of the game.
I have four sisters they all have impacted my life I see them striving to make their way over and around things that challenge them in life never giving up they have seen me through thick and thin encouraging me to stand back up when I’ve fallen they are constantly telling me they are proud of me that pushes me to do my very best.
I think things are starting to combat gender adversity however it’s going to take years for pay parity between men and women, making companies publish information on gender pay gaps is a good start however more needs to be done on action plans for reducing this. One of the greatest challenges preventing the economic gender gap from closing is women’s under-representation in new emerging roles, we need to change the way we think of jobs and what is conceived as male and female jobs.