Over the next few months, we’ll be posting a series of mini-blog posts, introducing the team and finding out a bit more about who they are and what they do, both inside and outside Willow & Stone. To start us off we’re talking to Catherine, one of our amazing Customer Services representatives.
Catherine deals with telephone and email enquiries – if she doesn’t answer customer queries herself, she directs them to the most appropriate member of the team and ensures they are followed up.
When Catherine initially started working with us she was based in our Falmouth shop, serving customers and keeping the shop looking beautiful at all times. She has a real eye for detail and always ensured displays were regularly updated with an aesthetic that was a perfect fit with the products and style we’ve been curating for the last 13 years.
About a year ago Catherine moved over to our office to take on the role of customer service. She brought her happy positivity with her and I’m always reminded how good customer service can be when I listen to her on the phone. Nothing is ever too much trouble and no matter how unusual the question she will always dig out an answer. Her attention to detail is also evident in her response to queries, ensuring all questions are answered clearly and concisely if she says she’ll follow something up she always does and on the rare occasions a customers order goes awry she resolves it swiftly and efficiently.
To get us started I asked Catherine to tell us a bit about what attracted her to working at Willow & Stone, and how long she’s been in her role.
I’ve been part of the W&S team for a very happy two years now. When working in St Ives for a while after my previous job relocated, I missed Falmouth dreadfully despite loving the role. Since graduating from Falmouth University 10 years ago, I’ve always worked in Penryn or Falmouth and the community here is like no other. It’s a special thing to be part of, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to be here again and part of this passionate and inspiring team, selling such beautiful items you can really believe in. It was a no-brainer really!
How would you define your role in the team?
I’m the front-of-house for customer services. If you give us a call in the week or drop us an email, it’s quite likely it’ll be me at the other end! I’m by no means a one-man band though, and couldn’t do it without the support of my colleagues. The sheer volume of enquiries we can have in a day is phenomenal, ranging from order updates to technical assistance, era-relevant suggestions for door furniture, to working with tradespeople and their clients.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love getting to know our customers and their projects, no matter how small or big the renovations may be. I love discussing door furniture ideas with someone excited for their first purchase of ironmongery just as much as I love the intricacies and logistics involved when working with contractors on huge period projects. And the icing on the cake is seeing photos of our products in situ; we know our items intimately and to see them proudly displayed in their new homes is such a treat!
What question are you asked the most often?
What the difference is between rim & mortise doorknobs. There’s so much confusing terminology bounding around out there that can be pretty overwhelming in your first forays into ironmongery, but please do just drop us a line if there’s something you’re unsure about and we’d be happy to help. I found that once these terms had context and meaning, it opened up a whole new world. I love learning new things, and sharing the knowledge, so keep those questions coming so we can share our passion, and I can find new things to research and to broaden my knowledge further!
So, can you explain to us what the difference is?
A mortise doorknob is one which has a back-plate on both sides and is fitted to a door with an internal mortise latch. We recommend heavily sprung mortise latches with all our door handles as they are un-sprung and are often quite heavy – for example, our best selling Beehive and Bloxwich doorknobs are 1 kilogram per pair! The heavily sprung mechanism will mean that when you turn your handles, they will spring back to their original position when you let go.
A rim doorknob is one which only has a back-plate on one side so it can be fitted to a door with a rim lock or latch (like this one). Some of our doorknobs work with both types of latch, as they have removable back-plates, but some don’t. If you’re not sure which you have or want, we’re always happy to talk you through the options.
Which is your favourite Willow & Stone product?
Anything in Distressed Antique Brass
– it’s so sumptuous and velvety – quite decadent, but still understated. It’s a perfect example of a ‘living finish’, where the areas of heavier use begin to lift the antique finish over time and allow the brass highlights to start coming through. I love how it evolves beautifully with age, developing real character that has the charm and depth of well-loved antiques. You can see and feel the quality of the craftsmanship when you hold these products – they are made using traditional, artisan techniques, and finished by hand, using skills that have been passed down for generations. I love this heritage and continuing to support such valuable skills in a world that is dominated by mass-produced, machine-made products.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
Making jewellery! I am passionate about gemstones and their myriad qualities. I work with precious metals and faceted and raw gemstones and pearls in minimal designs to show off the incredible colours, textures and shapes. It could be the flash of blue in Labradorite, or the flecks of Pyrite in rich blue Lapis Lazuli, or the simple elegance of Freshwater pearls. They are all delightful and worthy of celebrating these incredible little miracles of nature.
Has working at Willow & Stone influenced your jewellery making?
Absolutely. I have quite recently introduced brass into my roster of materials. I’ve got to know the characteristics of it very well through working at W&S, and it’s just such a versatile material for jewellery too. It’s lovely to work with, I buy it as a sheet and cut, file and hammer it into shape.
Can you tell us a bit more about the items you make and who you make them for?
My style is rooted in the classics – strings of pearls and stones, and delicate clusters of gemstones, but designed and crafted with a feel for contemporary styling and day-to-day life for women of all ages. I also take bespoke commissions which I love – the teamwork between us as I realise your vision is exciting and very rewarding.
Where can people find you online and buy your products?
I have a website where you can see examples of my work and get in touch with me if you have something in mind for a special occasion. I also sell on Etsy where you can buy my regular stock items. And if you just want to see a bit more of my work you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook:
Huge thanks to Catherine for answering all our questions. If you’ve got any questions about Distressed Antique Brass, Rim and Mortise latches or just want some general advice and information about which products are right for you, why not get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01326 311388.