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Illife Yard is where Alex started his first official workshop over 20 years ago and this hidden little gem is still going strong. The quaint cobbled yard is home to many independent artists and makers and from time to time Hollywood stars (*cough Brad Pitt*).

The Illife AM team are a great mixture of full time, part time, fellow designers and teachers. It brings a real eclectic and dynamic group of people under one roof to make beautiful jewellery. And we get to hear from just a few of them below.

April - Quality Control Manager

My job involves looking after the quality control side of production.

When a new collection starts to go into manufacture through our London workshops, we make sure all of the different styles can be made to our high standard at Alex Monroe. Sometimes the original masters, that our moulds are made from, need a slight tweek. This can mean anything from repositioning a jump ring to make a pendant sit correctly when being worn, or removing any unwanted mark that would compromise the finish and look of a piece.

On occasions there might be a technical difficulty with manufacture, so we have to make an adjustment to the original master, to make sure we can produce an item in quantity.

I am also involved in the Gold Plating side of the finished jewellery. This means working closely with our platers. Everyday we send jewellery to be plated, and this has to be checked out and back in again. Every piece can be tracked through a style code and order reference number. Once the items arrive back at our London Studio, they go back into the workshop for final assembly and packing. Then off they go to our lovely customers!

Mayo – Production coordinator / Design manager

I’m based in the very quaint Iliffe Yard workshop, where Alex started his business 30 years ago. I still remember getting completely lost while trying to find my way here for the trial day! This street is so small you can’t even find it in the “A to Z” (even though it’s now hard to imagine how anyone found their way before smart phones!). I was delighted when I finally found the little red door covered with vines in the cobbled yard, and this place is full of AM history!

My main job is to design and develop pieces with Alex and the team for our seasonal collections twice a year. As well as all other special collections and limited pieces we do. Spending some time on my sketch book or making prototypes on the bench are my favourite parts of this job.

It’s really important for me to work closely with the whole of the production as a team, so everyone knows how to create the pieces we design, that will eventually go to our customers all around the world.

I feel very lucky to have such a great workshop and a team that is so full of creative and talented people. There’s so much inspiring chat every day that is always influencing the new collections.

Frieda - Workshop

I stay in bed until the last minute every morning, a habit I will never get out of. My daughter’s 16 now and has to leave for school super-early, fortunately she doesn’t need my help in that department any more. There’s never time for coffee. I let the dog out, feed the cats and jump on my bike. I only live five minutes away from the workshop and usually make it in at around 8.30. I switch everything on in the workshop and make coffee for myself and April. I usually work on the urgent jobs and short orders, so I check which are the most important and start working on them. Over the next hour the workshop fills up. If I don’t have any urgent orders to fill I help whoever has a deadline to meet. Because I live so close I cycle home at lunchtime to walk my dog Pluto, a lovely grey whippet, sometimes we meet up with his doggy friends (and by association, my human friends!). I grab something to eat, then cycle back to work (luckily there are no hills involved!).

One of the lovely things about working at AM is that the work is very varied, there are so many pieces that you never get bored. We all quality check each other’s work too before anything leaves the workshop. I usually finish work at about 5.30, heading home for more dog wrangling and indulging in my other hobby – cooking (and wine appreciation!).

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