Alex Monroe's Queen Bees

 

Celebrating International Women's Day

This  #internationalwomensday we are celebrating our amazing Alex Monroe family and friends…a hive of inspirational Queen Bees taking on the worlds of life and work with warmth, courage and spirit!  We talk about their greatest achievements (so far), the Queen Bee’s who have influenced them on the way and what their Alex Monroe Bee means to them!

Emma 

Tell us about your greatest accomplishment?

Being part of the Alex Monroe story. Alex had already been in business for close to twenty years when I joined the team in 2006, but since then the business has completely grown and changed. I feel lucky to be part of such a brilliant and creative team, where everyone very much plays their own role in growing the brand. We have gone from five people to now almost forty, and have so many plans for the year ahead!

Name a fellow Queen Bee who has had a tremendous impact on you?

Before I joined Alex Monroe I was at Laura Lee, who I had helped during my placement year of University. I joined Laura’s workshop team to help with a big order for a Japanese client, and didn’t leave for three years! Over this time, we moved from a workshop space in Clerkenwell to a beautiful Boutique in Covent Garden.  It was such an exciting time - Laura had no real financial backing apart from a small bank loan, so everything was done on a shoestring. Cabinets and workbenches were made by friends, and our stock was formed from our samples - if we sold something, we would run downstairs to the workshop and make another! I will always remember these times with fondness, and a great admiration for Laura’s fearlessness in taking on a project that has stood the test of time.

What does your bee necklace mean to you?

My Bee necklace is a reminder of my journey with Alex Monroe, and has essentially taken me all over the world, and introduced me to lots of incredible people. Alex probably wasn’t the first designer to make a Bumblebee Necklace, but so many have come along since! Rather than get caught up in wars with copycats, we have chosen to focus on leading the way in new, original designs - staying strong to our traditional jewellery roots. So to me, my Bee is also a symbol of remaining true to yourself, and rising above challenges.

 

"My Bee necklace is a reminder of my journey with Alex Monroe, and has essentially taken me all over the world, and introduced me to lots of incredible people."

Mayo

Tell us about your greatest accomplishment?
 
Perhaps that would be me making a brand new life in UK! Decided to be far apart from all my favourite people in Japan and built a new (and amazing) life and relationships here. Having to say this as "my greatest accomplishment”, none of this would have happened without the people I’ve met in UK and who encouraged me from Japan. Big love to them all, and I love what I do. And I’m proud of all those choices I’ve made.
 
Name a fellow Queen Bee who has had a tremendous impact on you?
 
A tutor who I can’t remember her name at my fashion college. I loved her class, she just spent all her time telling us stories of her last research trip in Sahara desert or somewhere wild. Finding a nearby village by the colour of the sand while riding a camel, becoming friends with the local women in the village and learning all the skills of how to dye yarn, knit and make their traditional clothes. I was obsessed with her, her passion for learning and power of making things possible was so inspiring and I still dream of her some times.Otherwise, now I’m thinking of my mum (which probably an obvious choice but hey mum is mum!). I was sewing with her since I was 5. All the things I love now including drawing, sewing, making any sorts of crafty things and gardening, I spent so much time doing them together with her so it seems like it turns out that I have a great impact by her I guess!
 
What does your bee necklace mean to you?
 
This was my first Alex Monroe piece. I was gifted it from my manager when I finished my internship at Alex Monroe (over 10 years ago!). This means… everything! It’s been so great to experience what I experienced through work. Fun times and hard times. So many wonderful people, challenges and achievements. My bee knows all of it! So it’s more a sentimental attachment I have with it rather than its look or as a fashion item. Also this reminds me of how little I could manage then and how far I have come since. How much you can make it happen when you wish so hard and work hard on it. So does the company Alex Monroe! This bee traveled so far with Alex and the whole team and it’s been great to see the business grow!
 
 

Carly
Office Manager

Dina
Ecommerce Executive

Hannah
Product Developer

Carly  

Tell us about your greatest accomplishment?
 
Becoming a mum!
 
Name a fellow Queen Bee who has had a tremendous impact on you?
 
I would have to say my beautiful mum. She has faced so much in her lifetime and yet remains forever loving, supportive and wild. She is one of the strongest women I know. She rocks.
 
What does your bee necklace mean to you?
 
Friendship! Friends got me mine for my birthday and it will always remind me of them.
 
 
 

Dina 

Tell us about your greatest accomplishment?

 My greatest achievement so far has to be my final fashion collection at university, those early morning and all-nighters paid off. 

 
Name a fellow Queen Bee who has had a tremendous impact on you?
 
My amazing mum! My mum fled to the UK to escape war and promise a better future for her children, she's the  strongest and most inspiring Queen  Bee I know. 
 
What does your bee necklace mean to you?
 
So Much!! My bee repesents freedom, love and sweetness.
 
 
 

Hannah

Tell us about your greatest accomplishment?

For now? Creating a full jewellery collection for my graduate show.

Name a fellow Queen Bee who has had a tremendous impact on you?

My mother. Her grit and tenacity has always inspired me to work harder and better.

What do your bee earrings mean to you?

For me they symbolise the next chapter of my life, being out of university and into the real world.

 

 

Jo Whiley

 

Tell us about your greatest accomplishment?

Probably weathering the storm of the last year and coming out stronger, wiser, more focused than I’ve ever been. I feel I have a greater clarity and determination to make the best radio shows I possibly can and I have a deeper appreciation of all that entails. I am very very lucky to be doing what I do and I will never take that for granted. The people I work with, the people I interview and the people who listen to our shows. We are all in it together and It’s a weird and wonderful relationship we have.

 
Name a fellow Queen Bee who has had a tremendous impact on you?
 
My Queen Bee is Lorna Clarke who has worked alongside me in BBC Radio for many years. We were both at Radio 1 together and transitioned to Radio 2. She is formidable and quite quite brilliant. She has simply always been there for me in terms of my career and as a friend and her wisdom throughout our working relationship has been invaluable. I trust her judgement completely. She has incredible calm and clarity and a strength like no-one else. She is also deeply cool and is one of the most stylish women I know. I’m sure she has a deep flaw somewhere but I’m yet to find it.
 
What does your bee necklace mean to you?
 
I wear my Queen Bee because it’s beautiful. The Queen Bee has delicacy and dignity but she also calls the shots and that’s what i channel when I wear mine! It’s a piece of jewellery that has substance in the way it feels around your neck and what it stands for. I wear it as an emblem of strength and solidarity with other brilliant and industrious women. My daughter India, 27, has a small bee and my youngest daughter Coco, 10, is constantly asking when she might be able to get hers. I’ve bought Queen Bees for some of my special friends and together we feel part of a sisterhood. Women of substance.


"Probably weathering the storm of the last year and coming out stronger, wiser, more focused than I’ve ever been"

Shelly Vella

Tell us about your greatest accomplishment?
 
Tough question to answer as there are a few things I’m super proud of; running three marathons and raising over 22k for charity being one of them and another pretty major one is being fortunate enough to have an exhibition of my photographs sponsored by Olympus and Burt’s Bees in a gallery in Bermondsey. The subject of the exhibition was sustainability and I showcased my green heroines and photographed sustainable fashion, beauty and jewellery. When I look back on it now I can’t believe that opportunity came my way.
 
Name a fellow Queen Bee who has had a tremendous impact on you?
 
My family are my inspirational hive of worker bees – always supportive, always encouraging and always there for me.
 
What do your bee necklace mean to you?
 
I’ve been an admirer of Alex’s jewellery from very early on his journey and have collected many pieces over the years, however my teeny tiny gold bee necklace was something I saved for and was a ‘present to self’ when I landed my most recent job as Fashion Director, here at The Mail on Sunday's YOU Magazine. There’s always a piece I’m hankering over in every collection but the bees sum up everything beautiful and treasured about the natural world. Tiny, perfect and so infinitely crucial to the ecosystem. I never take it off.

 

Naomi Walkland

Tell us about your greatest accomplishment?
 
I am a firm believer that my greatest achievement is yet to come and this is this is what keeps me going in all aspects of my life.
 
Name a fellow Queen Bee who has had a tremendous impact on you?
 
This is a tough one. I have several people who have had tremendous impact on me. From my mother, who is my constant source of inspiration, to my incredible life and careers coach, Tash Vickers who constantly teaches me how to be the best version of myself, to my amazing boss Louise, and finally my amazing friends who are a constant sense of encouragement.
 
What does your bee necklace mean to you?
 
My necklace is so special to me as it was given to me by brilliant and wonderful colleagues at Bumble as my wedding present. I met my husband on Bumble and the ‘bee’ is a daily reminder of how it was through Bumble that I met the love of my life.
 
 
 

Louise Troen

Tell us about your greatest accomplishment?
 
Launching Bumble in Germany. We had been told that the market would be resistant to the product and we established a way to navigate the culture in a way that added value back to connectivity in the city. I was really proud of the work we did to empower Berliners to not only go after what they want in life, but empower themselves and each other while doing so.
 
Name a fellow Queen Bee who has had a tremendous impact on you?
 
Naturally, Naomi. It really takes teamwork to deliver across so much of what we do at Bumble. Naomi and I travel all the time together - a lot of the time on no sleep and running several events. it’s a real support to have someone by my side who not only delivers, but I also really respect. She’s not only a colleague, but a dear friend who I have immense trust in.
 
What do your bee necklace mean to you?
 
It represents strength to me. When I wear it, it reminds me of our focus as a company and where it all started. The queen bee of the hive always makes the first move - and it’s empowering to wear it when we’re spreading that same message to women across the world, as we champion for a more equal society.
 
 
 

Frances Quinn 

Tell us about your greatest accomplishment?
 
Would have to be winning the Great British Bake Off. Was one of the most emotional achievements I’ve experienced and has lead on to so many other memorable highlights. Enabling me to combine my passions for design, food, music and even sport together in unique and unexpected ways. I remember equating being on bake off to running a marathon, which I’d never taken part in at the time. But since winning have done and would also have to be up there as another stand out accomplishment of mine. *It was through my love of running I also got to know Alex and Jo more too!!
 
Name a fellow Queen Bee who has had a tremendous impact on you?
 
Jo Whiley. Jo was always someone I admired and listened to on the radio. Her evening show on BBC radio 2 was pretty much my soundtrack in the kitchen pre, during and post bake off. I remember wishing it was on longer, when in the depths of bake off and baking into the night was very much a common occurrence! It was actually listening and tweeting the show mid bake that first put us in touch and put me in touch with other Queen Bees in the music industry from the lovely Rae Morris to Florence Welch. Since that first correspondence many music inspired bakes have been created and consumed for and by artists on the show, not least Jo and her family (including the much loved Mighty Boosh) It’s funny to think how listening to Jo was like having a friend in the kitchen and through the magic of radio, baking and music she has now very much become one, both on and off the air. The fact when I met her we were both wearing our bumblebee necklaces also made a big impact, via a certain giant Bombay bicycle CLUB biscuit!
 
What do your bee necklace mean to you?
 
So much. A signature piece of Alex’s has very much become my own signature piece of jewellery. Thanks to the marzipan bees I created on GBBO which have also gone on to become a signature creation of mine. My siblings kindly gave it to me for my birthday a few weeks after me winning the GBBO. Was the perfect present as I’d always loved it and the significance of why they’d bought it and what it represented made it all the more special.