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Long before Monty Don’s talented green fingers made him a TV star, he and his wife Sarah, were the owners of their own costume jewellery business. But despite doing most of the designing, sampling and publicity behind the intricate pieces, Sarah admitted she felt “invisible” next to her husband.
Montagu’s coming along and shmoozing him worked but it was humiliating for me
The company, aptly named after the horticulturalist, was sold in 30 countries, with 60 outlets in America alone.
It was given approval by Vogue, while Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Liberty all stocked their creations.
Their customers included Princess Diana, Boy George and king of pop Michael Jackson.
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But while speaking of their co-creation in their book The Jewel Garden, Sarah opened up about the “humiliation” she, the trained jeweller, suffered alongside super-salesman Monty.
“I would spend months working on a creation, drawing, refining, going backward and forwards to the factory, checking samples, sorting out publicly,” she wrote.
“It was always a collaboration, though the factory owner who made up our jewellery only seems to listen to Montagu.”
She added: “I was invisible.”
Sarah explained that she put up with the silent insulting snubs as long as her collections were made in time to meet client deadlines, but she felt “humiliated” none-the-less.
“Montagu’s coming along and shmoozing him worked but it was humiliating for me,” she admitted.
Monty took a look back on the business, that went under during 1987 Wall Street Crash, in an interview with The Independent.
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He recalled how fun it was to work with Sarah and the experience as whole was a good life lesson.
“The jewellery business was good fun for three out of our nine years,” Monty said.
“I was working with someone I loved. And I loved the tools and the skills that came with it.
“We certainly learnt a good deal from the whole experience.”
But he added that their collapse was nothing but “spectacular”.
“We were all along pretending to be businessmen and now our cover had been blown,” he admitted, as their major US market stores began to cancel all their orders.
He smiled: “When we were flying, we were really flying.
“At our best, we were the best in the world at what we did. But we were never quite as successful as our publicity convinced other people – and ourselves – that we were.”
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