Monica Vinader is an innovative UK-based company that designs, produces and sells elegant jewellery. We talked to head of operations (and sister to designer Monica) Gabriela Vinader about how she uses cloud-based tools to run and manage their modern and collaborative business.
Monica Vinader describes itself as ‘the brand of choice for elegant and wearable jewellery’. With outlets in Harrods, Liberty and Selfridges, as well as a dedicated store just off Bond Street, it seems they most certainly are.
Monica Vinader regularly receives coverage in magazines like Vogue and Elle, and numerous celebrities have been spotted sporting a Monica Vinader piece. It’s not just the jewellery that’s beautiful though; thanks to Grabriela’s commitment to making the most of modern business technology, its internal operations are pretty stunning too.
Why modernity matters
‘Using cloud-based tools is a no-brainer for me,’ says Gabriela, ‘it’s like if the internet hadn’t been invented and then someone came along and offered it to you – would you use it? Of course you would!’
Monica Vinader faces many of the challenges that are common to small businesses today. The firm has to manage a split head office, with Monica and the design team based in Norfolk, and Gabriela working in London where the majority of their outlets are.
Of the 30+ members of staff, several travel regularly between offices and need to be able to work on the road, and many also work flexibly from home. That means Gabriela has to support multiple devices of every sort and access to information on the go.
‘There are things coming on the market, like Turbine, that make it affordable now,’ says Gabriela. By embracing online tools, Gabriela not only enables remote and flexible working, but since there is no need for a server or dedicated IT staff, she also saves a great deal of money.
Take Turbine for example
Before Turbine, purchase orders at Monica Vinader were ‘a bit of a nightmare.’ Staff would email Gabriela with requests and then she’d enter the request on a spreadsheet and reply with a made-up PO number.
‘It wasn’t really working, and nobody knew what was going on,’ says Gabriela.
Now everybody has an account on Turbine, they can log in and make requests using the suppliers and accounting codes that Gabriela set up when she signed up. Gabriela can simply review and approve requests at the click of a button. Even if she misses an email, she can sign in and see all the requests in one place.
‘It’s just more efficient and cleaner,’ says Gabriela.
Business efficiency? There’s an app for that
When it comes to online apps, Gabriela has taken full advantage of the multitude of services out there that can help small businesses:
- theRota.com helps Gabriela ensure that there are always people on the shop floor and covering their counters in the various department stores. It can automate scheduling and send text messages if the rota is changed.
- Customer service is taken care of with Desk.com, which is a web-based email management tool that has functionality like tagging, time tracking and social media integration
- Gabriela uses Box and Google Drive for back up and sharing files, as people can access them from anywhere, any time
- Google Apps allows real time collaboration on specific documents, and Gabriela has used Google Apps to build a simple company intranet
- She communicate with their website developers using Basecamp, which allows her to track progress and be part of the iterative design and coding process
- Looking to the future, Gabriela is exploring online point-of-sales and inventory apps as well as cloud-based accounting systems
‘We don’t store credit card data or customer information on the cloud,’ says Gabriela, ‘but for everything else it seems pretty obvious.’ Considering online tools like Turbine have saved her time and money whilst making her job easier and her staff happier, it’s easy to see why being a thoroughly-modern Monica Vinader has meant becoming an extremely successful and innovative small business.