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Crockett & Jones

The Voice of Workmanship II

Crockett & Jones has been manufacturing fine English shoes since 1879. During those 133 years, very talented and highly skilled employees have worked hard to produce the quality product we know today. Below is the second installment of “The Voice of Workmanship” which will give you an insight into life in the closing room with Jayne Straughan...

The Voice of Workmanship II

Name: Jayne Straughan

Age: 48

Start Date: 8th February 1982

Position: Royal Perforator

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How long did it take you to learn your trade?
At Crockett & Jones you are always learning because we make so many different styles, all of the time.

Just for fun… Roughly how many shoes do you think you’ve work on for Crockett & Jones over the years?
A little over 1,500,000 and they all look fabulous.

Do you have a favourite Crockett & Jones style or design?
My favourite has always been a style we made for Paul Smith many years ago with a diamond punch.

Are there any styles that are particularly tricky to work on?
Actually it’s the same style... The Paul Smith diamond punch sample we did had punching all over and the punch holes had to be 5mm apart. It was a favourite of mine because of the challenge it gave me. It looked great.

What made you decide to work in the shoe trade and how did you go about getting your job at Crockett & Jones?
Queenie Seaton that worked in the closing room during the 70’s and 80’s was the daughter of a family friend. She thought it would be good for me… 30 years later I am still here, so it can’t be all bad!

What’s it like being part of the manufacturing team making a handmade product?
I can honestly say that I enjoy my job and love the challenges it brings. Having a stable job has enabled me to stay in control of my own destiny. It is a way of life working in a shoe factory and there aren’t many secrets!

You must have a few interesting stories from your time in the factory, would you care to share one or two of them?
Years ago when I was a trainee, supervisors were much stricter and more regimented. We used to regularly get into trouble for making too many mistakes and causing re-cuts. So… I started sewing the pieces of leather into my jacket!

Unfortunately, this didn’t go unnoticed and the day before I got married my colleagues “stitched me up”! (or didn't). They filled my jacket lining without sewing the pieces of leather into place so when I got up to leave for the day, they fell out all over the floor! Needless to say, my friends all found this hilarious, but my supervisor didn’t quite see the funny side and I got quite a telling off!

If you were talking to the younger generations looking for work today, what would you say to them about working for a footwear manufacturer?
Factory work can be boring and monotonous but if you are willing to concentrate and learn new skills there are some really rewarding jobs to be done in all the different rooms.

Younger generations today need to realise this and be patient with the training process. None of the jobs in the factory can be learnt in 5 minutes but once you have get to grips with them, they will stay with you for life.

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Finally, what do you think about the shoes Crockett & Jones are making today?
For a while I thought the ladies shoes could do with some updating, but I think this is something that we are starting to do as there is more delicate work coming through on some interesting colours.

I love the mens shoes and since the day I started the supervisors have always insisted on quality over quantity. I am a real fan of the spectator shoes, full brogues made with two different coloured leathers, as these shoes really make my work stand out!

Any other comments you’d like to add, would be great…
Recently I had my most surreal moment in 30 years at Crockett and Jones. I had the privilege of meeting Royalty when Prince Charles came to visit our factory. He was really interested in seeing some of the more skilled jobs and mine was one of the chosen operations. He was very nice and genuine when he asked me about my job although, he didn’t want to have a go when I offered. After I'd met Prince Charles, I had three of four interviews with various journalists and I appeared in newspapers and on websites. Everyone deserves their 15 minutes of fame, mine was at work!

It was a once in a life time opportunity and even today I am still on a high. It was great for us and for the company.

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