A PRESTWICK businesswoman admitted her emotions almost got the better of her after her latest award success.

Sheila Kerr, from Sheila Kerr Jewellery, was crowned the winner in the Independent Jewellery Store of the Year category at the Scottish Independent Retail Awards.

It's the third year running that Sheila has won the prize.

Sheila, who operates the business on Harbour Street in Irvine, is both the designer and maker of the stunning pieces sold in her shop, admits it was an unexpected honour despite her previous success.

She commented: “When they called out my name I was quite emotional. I don’t usually get like that but I got quite filled up. I couldn’t believe it would happen a third time.

“I looked at the other finalists and I had stiff competition. Some of the jewellers that were there, their work is beautiful as well. 

“I couldn’t have done it without my customers. My suppliers, as well, because they are part of the story. Friends, family and everyone who has made it possible for me to keep going.

“I know a lot of them face to face, as well as the online customers, and I will always make sure to thank them, because you wouldn’t be a business without your loyal customers.”

The stunning and unique products she offers, which are often commissioned pieces with sentimental value to their owners, play a big part in keeping Sheila's customers happy.

Ayr Advertiser: The award.

Sheila continued: “One of my customers said perhaps it was because most of the pieces I am making are unique, one of a kind, so they are like pieces of art.

“A lot of the other jewellers are doing fabulous work, but they are not making originals.

“I must be doing it right or I wouldn’t have won it again.”

Sheila has been operating in Irvine for more than a decade now, and also says that hard work and continuing to evolve with the times has stood her in good stead.

She added: “It’s a lot of work. That’s 15 years I’ve been in business. I would say for the first three years it was touch and go whether I would carry on.

“It’s difficult to build your brand and to make enough money to survive.

“I run the business on my own. I am the designer and the maker. Of course I have people that do things for me, but it’s 24/7 building the business.

“I have been known to work right over weekends, but I don’t do that as much as I used to.

“It’s all about juggling and managing. Let’s say I have so many commissions on the go, I will look at that and think 'how many more can I manage before I become overloaded?'.

“Something special and unique takes time, and I like to take my time over it. The design aspect can take many weeks, because you are working with the customer to establish exactly what they are looking for.”

This constant improvement is something Sheila tries to get across using her online presence, on both her Facebook page and website, with customers across the globe, as far afield as Australia and Canada.

Adapting with the times in this way is exactly what helped her through some of the toughest times for independent retailers - the Covid pandemic. At this time she was unable to operate from her Irvine store, instead working from her Prestwick home.

Ayr Advertiser: Sheila Kerr.

She commented: “To keep my business alive during the pandemic, I started working in my garden summerhouse that I had converted into a studio.

“I did a lot of social media and I built up a new customer base. I didn’t close down, I saved my business from closing.”

Exceptional customer service has also become a hallmark of the business, and Sheila says she prides herself in putting in that little bit of extra effort by, for example, keeping customers informed with images of the progress on their bespoke pieces.

She said: “I’ve known customers that have made little photo books out of images that I have sent.

“If it’s a surprise gift, they make a little book to go with it, so it is like the story of the ring.

"It's all these little touches that I add to what I do that I have just made up myself.

“That is something that gives such good customer service.”

Those looking to find out more can visit Sheila's Facebook page at facebook.com/sheila.kerr.jewellery or her website at sheilakerrjewellery.com/.