Let’s start at the beginning. How do you both come to work at Crockett & Jones?
Csaba: I’d worked in a shoe shop previously, so I was familiar with the trade. After a couple of years there, I knew that I wanted to stay in shoes, but I wanted to work for a brand that offered higher quality product. A role came up with Crockett & Jones in 2012 and I applied for the role in a heartbeat. Shoes are a great product to sell, especially C&Js. They’re tangibly well-made – selling them for a family business feels like an honest day’s work.
Mark: When I first moved to London, I spent some time walking around, finding my bearings and getting to know the city on foot – rather than navigating it blindly through Tube tunnels. When I first ventured onto Jermyn Street, I fell in love with everything it had to offer. I remember looking through the windows of the Crockett & Jones flagship store on the street and thinking “Wow. What incredible shoes!”
Some days later, my walking tour took me to Knightsbridge where I spotted the hoarding for a new store, which, it turned out, was Crockett & Jones’s soon-to-open shop. I found out a little more about the company and applied. Thankfully, I was given a position and ended up in the Jermyn Street flagship, before moving to Canary Wharf in 2017.
What drew you to C&J in the first place, then?
C: When I started looking at other shoemakers, Crockett & Jones was the brand that appealed to me the most, because it’s a family-run business. It feels genuine, and the visibility of the factory is very transparent – our shoes don’t cut any corners and we have absolutely nothing to hide.
M: The idea of working for a reputable firm serving a unique client base, which extends from City professionals to Royals and Hollywood stars, was ultimately what sealed the deal for me. I’ve been with the company for eight years now, and I feel very much part of the family – and the furniture!
So, what’s it like working in Canary Wharf?
C: It’s a city within a city. The docks are great, especially in the summer. The quayside comes alive when the sun comes out. From a retail perspective, this shop’s mainly run by word of mouth; so we have a great relationship with our customers. I know all my regulars, personally. Of course, you always get new faces through the door, but not a single day passes without me recognising a customer I know.
M: I’ve loved it since my first day. It’s such a vibrant part of the city; with the headquarters of major banks and corporations headquartered among the high-rises. It’s always a hive of activity, with an eclectic mix of people. If you’ve never visited Canary Wharf, I’d recommend you put it on your to-do list for 2020 – it’s got a real buzz to it.
Care to share any highlights from your time there?
C: We get lots of mail orders to fulfil in the shop, and we’ve got very used to the mail order process. We have a much loved mail order customer who lives Pakistan, who had such a great experience with our mail order service that he now sends us letters, and keeps in touch with the store regularly – even though he’s never been in. Relationships with customers like him make this job really special.
M: Working at C&J is rewarding in so many ways. We get to meet people from all over the world, and we get to chat to people from so many walks-of-life, countries and cultures. Plus, we really are treated like the extended family of the Jones’s. I am sure that every member of staff, old and new, has that same sense of belonging to something bigger than just the individual store they work in.
And finally, we have to ask, what’s your favourite pair of C&Js?
C: I don’t think you can beat a pair of polished black Oxfords; the Hallam or perhaps the Connaught. Classic formal shoes are always going to be in demand in Canary Wharf, but I have a real soft spot for them.
M: I’m a black shoe man too – it must be something to do with working in the City. I love the Cavendish in black calf with rubber City Soles; our City Soles are a must for me, working and living in London. They’re very practical, and perfect for pounding pavements.