Published: February 27, 2020 | Updated: March 1, 2020
20 Questions: Amy Brenan, Owner of Heirloom Jewellers, Wareham, takes the weekly hotseat
Each week we shine the spotlight on a member of Dorset’s business community and ask him, or her, for answers to our part fun/part serious questionnaire. This time…
She finds crime dramas gripping, considers selling an engagement ring the best bit of her job, loves the smell of blossoming jasmine on a hot summer’s day on holiday and chooses cake, cake and yet more cake as her favourite food!
Amy Brenan, Owner of Heirlooms Jewellers in Wareham and an auctioneer and jewellery specialist, takes the 20 Questions’ hotseat.
Question: What is your favourite TV show?
Answer: I love a crime drama: Silent Witness, 24 Hours in Police Custody, I find the cleverness of the investigations completely gripping. Obviously I do like a bit of Antiques Roadshow every now and again but sometimes it’s too much like work!
Q: Who would you like to share a lift with?
A: Elizabeth Taylor. I think she and I would get on really well. We could talk about all of her wonderful jewellery and the husbands who bought it for her.
Q: The best bit of my job is…?
A: Selling an engagement ring. To think that me and my little shop in Wareham were involved in creating a memory for a couple that will last a lifetime is very special to me
Q: And the worst…?
A: Telling a customer that their treasured heirloom is actually not as valuable or rare as they think. I am the breaker of hearts and memories sometimes but it is important to be sensitive but honest.
Q: Who was your childhood hero?
A: My Grandma. She still is even though we lost her nine years ago. She dressed like a real lady, always had perfect hair and was usually wearing a lot of jewellery, even all of her rings when she was making pastry! She could make the most mundane wonderful and always made me feel better.
Q: What’s your favourite smell?
A: The smell of blossoming jasmine on a hot summer’s day on holiday. It reminds me of my first trip to Lake Como on my honeymoon when I was only 22.
Q: Where’s your favourite place in Dorset?
A: There really are too many to list but I am aware that there is so much of the county I am yet to discover so my favourite at the moment – Hambledon Hill. The start of the hill is at the bottom of my parent’s garden and each day the light falls on it in a different way. I like the ridges that run across the hill, the tiny white dots of sheep scattered all over it and watching people climb to the top and then look like miniature people when they get there.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone starting out on a career?
A: Be passionate and enthusiastic about your chosen career. You can’t pretend to be either. If you love a job but find it challenging at times or difficult to get to the level you want, you will only get there if you have a natural enthusiasm and willingness. Without truly having your heart in it, I don’t think anyone can really succeed.
Q: What was your first record/CD?
A: Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You. It was my first tape cassette and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
Q: What gets you angry?
A: More things now I am getting older! But mostly computers – I am angry at mine almost all the time.
Q: Do you have a favourite piece of music?
A: Caribbean Blue by Enya.
Q: What are the qualities you look for in a new employee?
A: Honesty first off, enthusiasm to work hard and a good sense of humour. And someone who doesn’t mind dogs. We have a shop dog called Dolly who tries to be everyone’s best friend!
Q: What’s your favourite food or dish?
A: Cake, cake and, well, more cake. But I do like a good steak with peppercorn sauce and crispy chips. Or baked brie. Or prawns pil pil. Basically I like all food. But not lamb.
Q: Steamed sponge pudding and custard or a plate of melon?
A: Both my favourites! But what could beat Bird’s yellow custard?
Q: Name the best thing about living/working in Dorset?
A: It is one of the smallest counties but possibly one of the most diverse in terms of landscape and mixes of people and that makes it such an enlightening place to be. I also like that you can drive to most places in the county within an hour or so.
Q: If you were Prime Minister for the day what would be the first thing you do?
A: Visit the Queen and congratulate her for her unwaning dedication to the country and the way she has tried her best to adapt the Royal institution to suit the modern climate despite an often unsupportive media.
Q: What’s your biggest frustration?
A: That I am not getting where I’d like to be fast enough! I am always comparing myself to other people and think to myself ‘when will I be doing that?’. Other biggest frustration at the moment has to be the influx of synthetic gemstones onto the market which are not declared. Too many consumers are unclear about what they are buying and too many retailers are not describing their goods in an honest and understandable way.
Q: Where’s your favourite holiday location?
A: We don’t get to go away much but of all the places I have been, my favourite place is probably Southern Ireland. I visited every summer holiday for about seven years when my grandparents lived there. There is something special about the landscape and the people that is unlike anywhere I have been and it holds the best childhood memories for me. I would love to own a house there one day.
Q: Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
A: Professionally, I’d like to have opened at least one other specialist antique jewellery shop in Dorset and to have built my online business so it runs as a shop in itself. Personally, I’d like to be able to say I have visited all of the major public jewellery collections around the world and to have learnt to make my own jewellery by hand.
Q: What would you like to be remembered for?
A: Being the friendly and knowledgable face behind the counter of that funny little antique jewellers in Wareham. Mother, Wife, Daughter and Best Friend.