Mum's the word.
Earlier in the year we released a blog series detailing the journey of Jam so far, from zero to now. This year has presented more curve balls than ever but somehow we have managed to steady the ship, well, for now, at least. Our only conclusion as to how we have done this is through the unbelievable efforts of our small but hard-working team. As the Jam family has grown, so have the personalities within the business, so this Winter, we felt it was right to tell the stories of the amazing individuals that make up team Jam. And I, Darcey Ball, have taken it upon myself to act as the in-house gossip girl between now and Christmas.
So here goes, first up: Lynne / MUM, as it only seemed fair to start at the top of the family tree!
It’s hard to imagine what JAM Industries would be without Lynne. Hold up! Jam Industries simply wouldn’t exist without Lynne because there would be no ‘A’ : Andrew and there would be no ‘M’ : Mark.
Lynne can’t help but beam when she talks about her kids, all five of them. That’s right, she raised five human beings. That makes her a super being. I feel like five kids would take the stuffing out of any normal person but Lynne is fully charged and ready to take on the world. She is an enigmatic beauty that has nothing but positive energy. She practically flaunts being a mum. Which is funny, as she explains she wasn’t the one out of her friends desperate for children: never wanted a baby, never held a baby. When she had her first child, she was 23 and was struck by just how much love she had to give. Even now her kids are into their 30’s, she still sees herself first and foremost a mum. Mum and proud.
So it’s an important balance: Mum and business at JAM, working with two out of the five. Ultimately, she talks of the privilege that it is to work for Andrew and Mark. That’s how she sees it. She works for them. They did all the hard graft at the beginning when they had two t-shirts, two sweatshirts and a van that they drove round the country. It’s their business: it’s their baby. She trusts them implicitly when it comes to business decisions and she is there when they need her, which is daily. Work or play. Humble in her narrative, what Lynne might not recognise is the extent to her genetic influence over her children. Born and raised in the waters of South Africa, Lynne is first and foremost a beach bum with a passion for clothes.
Her childhood swims amongst big surf and even bigger sharks (not the vegan ones we have in Cornwall), without doubt made her the tough and determined cookie she is. A characteristic she has instilled in her boys from the moment they could walk, if not before. On one particular occasion, whilst the family were living in Sweden, Lynne reflects lightly on nearly killing Mark whilst ice skating 15km in a blizzard across a frozen lake. Concerned for their safety, her other boys, Andrew and Christopher, chose to wait on the ice as the sun dropped, so they built an igloo and snuggled in. If this isn’t an education in family resilience and loyalty then I don’t know what is.
Lynne likes to do everything at once. Which definitely explains her moving house last week, taking out her new boat for its first few outings over the weekend and now rectifying a factory error by re-folding each individual label for the new sweatshirts, by hand, while she finds time to chat to me between phone calls, to suppliers and walking the dog.
What does Lynne do at Jam? I make a note to ask Andrew and Mark what exactly is Lynne’s job. Really, I should be asking Lynne what it is that she doesn’t do. No job description could do justice. As effortlessly as Lynne moves from city to surf, so too she moves from screwdriver to sewing machine, from camera to contract: a true Jill of all trades. Lynne left school at 16 and went straight into fashion working for a small independent. She was thrown in at the deep end. Suddenly, she was a buyer attending shows in Paris. Little did she know, years on, she would be product sourcing, preparing samples, mood boards, new collections, finding suppliers, assessing quality, environment, risk. She is a HR manager, she’s a visual merchandiser, she is a business consultant, she plays good cop, she plays bad cop, she is a business development/sales extraordinaire and she is there, always, for all of us.
No problem is too small, no matter, impossible. There is a solution, never a problem. I think that is what is most striking about her mantra for being, there are only positive conversations to be had, whether that is with a supplier or a customer or with each other in the team, everyone is in. And once you are in, you are in forever. Because that is what family is. It is all that lasts in this world.
Lynne tells me how excited she was when the colour swatch for the new college crop arrived, she started searching for the colour last September. Not cream, not brown but the perfect oat. After going backwards and forwards for months with suppliers, finally, it is here. It screams class, as does she. We talk about colour like boys talk about football. We think we might start a club.
Lynne is going to be opening up our pop up store in Marlow next month and we can’t wait to visit.