Business Q&A: Mona Norman, Fogal & Barnes
Last updated Apr 3, 2024
Photo of Mona Norman, managing director of Fogal & Barnes Fine Jewellers of Harrogate, showing off some of the rings she sells.

This is the latest in a regular series of Business Q&A features published weekly.    

This week, we spoke to Mona Norman, managing director of Fogal & Barnes Fine Jewellers on Cambridge Street in Harrogate. 

Tell us in fewer than 30 words what your firm does. 

Our boutique on Harrogate‘s main shopping street specialises in engagement, wedding and eternity rings, although we’re also increasingly seen as experts in coloured gems, such as sapphires, rubies and emeralds.

What does it require to be successful in business? 

Fantastic customer service. With the internet now you can buy whatever you want online, so why would people come to me? It’s because we come across a bit more approachable and we offer a personal consultation 90% of the jewellery we sell is bespoke.

That’s partly why we’ve been shortlisted for Bridal Jewellery Retailer of the Year at the UK Jewellery Awards in London in June.

What drives you to do what you do every day? 

I absolutely love what I do – I eat, breathe and sleep it. I’m so passionate about what we do: making dreams come true. When you see a young girl put on an engagement ring that’s all she’s ever wanted, it’s wonderful – and very emotional. I love our little shop.

What has been the toughest issue your company has had to deal with over the last 12 months? 

The cost-of-living crisis. People are taking longer to take decisions to treat themselves. But we stay positive, and we’re confident that things will change. They always do.

Which other local firms do you most admire and why? 

I love the camaraderie between all the jewellers in Harrogate, like Ogdens and I’Ansons. We all do something a little different from each other, and we all try to help each other.

Photo of Mona Norman, managing director of Fogal & Barnes Fine Jewellers of Harrogate, showing off some of the rings she sells.

Who are the most inspiring local leaders? 

My lovely husband, Richard Norman. He does so much for the community and inspires me every day. Giving back to the community is really important to us.

What could be done locally to boost business? 

Harrogate used to be well known for its independent shops, but the other day a visitor to the town said to me, ‘Do you know, yours is the only independent business on the high street?’. The sad thing is that she was right.

We need to chop up some of these big units in the centre of town so that smaller businesses can afford to rent them. After all, why would someone visit Harrogate if there are only big chains here?

There are a few pockets of independent businesses around Harrogate, which is great, but if we don’t use them, we’ll lose them.

Best and worst things about running a business from Harrogate? 

The best thing is all the greenery. We have a beautiful town, and I love living and working here.

The worst thing is that it’s not busy enough. York gets a lot more footfall, and I know it’s a bigger place, but Harrogate’s got a lot to offer too, and we need to emulate York’s success and encourage more out-of-towners to visit.

What are your business plans for the future? 

I work on a five- to 10-year plan. I was going to open more branches, but I changed my mind, so we’re going to keep on doing what we’re doing, in Harrogate. I’m never going to stop working – I just want us to be better and stronger.

What do you like to do on your time off? 

That’s funny – do I get time off?! When I get home, I love to put on Netflix and cook. My favourite meals to make are Middle Eastern, Italian… anything really. I love trying out anything new.

That said, my work is my hobby!

Best place to eat and drink locally?

I love Starling because it’s so laid back and relaxed – and Richard loves the selection of beers. The Little Ale House has a lovely vibe too.

To eat, I love Papa’s on Prince’s Square. It’s a hidden gem with fabulous food and really nice red wine, and it’s not expensive.

  • If you know someone in business in the Harrogate district and you’d like to suggest them for this feature, drop us a line at [email protected]. 

Read more:

[the_ad id=”182785″]