‘Seeing my jewellery on passersby is my motivation’: How being humble helped Kiki McDonough build an empire

View from the Top: Loved by women of all backgrounds – including royalty – the fifth-generation jewellery designer explains how a healthy dose of risk-taking has helped her business flourish

Josie Cox
Saturday 27 July 2019 16:49 BST
‘It was in the 1980s that I had what I call my lucky break’
‘It was in the 1980s that I had what I call my lucky break’ (Kiki McDonough)

If a film were to be made about Kiki McDonough’s life, it would likely prove a hit at box offices across the country. The 64-year-old embodies everything we love to celebrate about British entrepreneurialism and commerce. And it’s a story like hers that would provide welcome relief from the tales of misconduct and poor governance – of arrogance and greed – which these days seem to dominate the business pages.

McDonough’s biopic would be about ambition, hard work and a healthy dose of risk. But above all it would be about humble success: few jewellers can claim to have their pieces in the permanent collection of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Even fewer can say that their designs are favoured by several generations of royals. But almost none would be able to tell you all that without sounding even just a little bit boastful. This charming mother of two from Battersea is one of the few.

On a muggy Friday morning in June, I meet McDonough in the basement of her eponymous flagship store, just off London’s chic Sloane Square. The term “basement” really doesn’t do the space justice. Carpeted in soft pastels, and with a huge sofa covered in cushions, the light and breezy room is a seamless extension of the shop upstairs, decor-wise. It serves as an atelier-cum-office-cum-lounge for McDonough’s team, and as I take a seat I can’t help but feel like I’ve been invited over to a very stylish, very classy friend’s house for tea.

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