Women In Pawnbroking – A Spotlight Part 2

By H&T Pawnbrokers Wed, Aug 03, 2022
Welcome to the second installment of our Women in Pawnbroking interviews, which we’re publishing this March in celebration of International Women’s Day. Here at H&T, we’re taking the opportunity to recognise strong, supportive women and highlight the contributions women make in the world of pawnbroking.

We’ve picked five women at who work for us in our H&T stores to feature in this two-part blog series. Their roles vary from Store Colleague to Area Manager, and each one of them has taken a different journey to get to where they are. As is the case with all of us, they’ve also been supported and inspired along the way by many different women.

These interviews are a celebration of what they do, how they got here and the women who have helped to make their careers possible. For part 1 of our series, where we hear from Store Managers Sue and Kerry.

Let’s meet our third Woman in Pawnbroking:

Jan Harrison, Area Manager

Describe a typical day in your role at H&T

A typical day for me would be to spend time in one of the stores in my area, where I get to support and coach the managers and branch teams. Of course, there are other aspects of my role to deal with in addition to this – helping with compliance checks being one of them. I believe in supporting, listening and empowering my managers and team, and the thing I love most is watching them grow in confidence and become the best they can be.

People are my passion first and foremost, and I love meeting customers in our stores. I’ve learned a lot since joining the industry. For example, there is nothing more interesting than learning about other people’s cultures, which is often very connected to the jewellery they wear. I had no idea before I worked in H&T how amazing Asian gold jewellery is, particularly the wedding sets, and how important it is in the community to use family gold to help each other.

How did you get your job at H&T?

Being a pawnbroker wasn't something I’d ever considered, but circumstance led me to a blue chip agency and they put me forward for the position. I have been here now for 16 years, so it was obviously a good decision!

Who are the women you most admire in the world and why?

I admire the Queen – I think she is amazing for her age. I also hold a lot of admiration for my mum and how she put up with me! Another strong woman who comes to mind is Rosa Parks, because she believed you should live your life as a model to others, and that’s what I hope to do.

Taking inspiration and strength from some of the most well-known women in history – like Rosa Parks – is what fuels the most supportive among us, and we can all learn so much from their stories.

Let’s meet our fourth Woman in Pawnbroking:

Dawn Clayton, Store Colleague

Describe a typical day in your role at H&T

The first part of my day is normally spent making sure the retail window is perfect before the store opens. Once the doors are open, my time is spent serving customers who may want to try on an item of jewellery, or who need some help in finding the perfect gift for a loved one. Lunch normally consists of whatever fad we are all into at the time; at the moment that’s cheese scones!

Each day is different, but one of the many things I enjoy about my job is when I help someone find the perfect engagement ring. Knowing I played a tiny part in such a special occasion brings me a lot of joy. I was once lucky enough to witness a couple get engaged right there and then in the store as they couldn't wait a moment longer - there wasn't a dry eye in the whole shop!

How did you get your job at H&T?

I had already been working in the Pawnbroking Industry for five years prior to joining H&T. However, I wanted to learn more about the retail side of the business as I have a keen interest and love for jewellery. Over the last nine years, H&T have helped me develop my knowledge and I still hold a real passion for retail, so it’s the perfect fit for me.

Did you have support from any particular women in regards to your role at H&T?

My team at work are also my friends, and they’re who I turn to for support, whether that’s for work related or personal issues and challenges. I know they are there for me, I’m there for them, and we are all there for each other. We are strong women and all have each other’s back, which makes me feel really looked-after and loved for who I am.

Who are the women you most admire in the world and why?

The women I admire most in society are all the mothers who juggle work and home life. I know myself how difficult that can be, so I salute each and every one of them.

Another woman I admire very much is Dr Alison Cronin MBE; her dedicated work towards campaigning against the illegal smuggling of primates, as well as her help to rehabilitate abused and tortured animals is so inspiring to me. Her strength, courage, determination and dedication to this cause just confirms to me that women can achieve anything we set our minds to.

Recognising our own struggles in others is an important part of supporting other women. If you’re experiencing some tough things, then it’s likely that there are many other women out there who are experiencing the same thing. Having empathy for the difficulties that can be faced by women every day is essential.

Let’s meet our final Woman in Pawnbroking:

Jah Anderson, Cluster Manager

Describe a typical day in your role at H&T

I always start my day with my motto, which is ‘Mindset Ready & Physical Setup’. Before we open myself and the team will set up for the day. Then we will have our morning briefing where we’ll chat about any updates, ideas, concerns and expectations for the day ahead. Once we’re all organised and ready to go, it’s time for a cup of tea and to open the doors.

What I enjoy the most about working here is meeting new people, and getting to know them better through our conversations on each visit. Most people who come through our doors have some amazing stories to tell –I really treasure some of the unbelievable and amazing stories of people’s lives.

As well as meeting new people, one big upside to my job is getting to see all the amazing items that come in to us every day. The jewellery and watches are beautiful, and it’s exciting when you get to see something you’ve never seen before.

Overall, the highlight of this job is when I get to help people who need it the most; when they couldn’t turn to anyone or anywhere else. It’s a great feeling when you know you’ve made someone’s day better – even just a little bit better is good enough for me.

How did you get your job at H&T?

I came to London in 2008 after I graduated in Faculty of Humanities in Thailand. At that time, I just needed to get any job to support my stay. My sister helped me to get a job in a pawnbroker’s part-time, and throughout the years I have worked really hard to get to where I am today as a Cluster Manager for H&T.

Pawnbroking was never an intended career for me. I hadn’t a clue about pawnbrokers when I first came to the UK. I thought they were a sinister black marketplace with dodgy items for sale! My first 2 months was particularly challenging, not just because I needed to learn the business, but also because I was learning how to speak the language. Not only did I have to understand English, I also had to try and understand it with cockney accent! I only thought I’d be in this job for few months, but it became so interesting and challenging day by day that I’ve stayed, and it’s become a real passion.

Did you have support from any particular women in regards to your role at H&T?

My first supporter within H&T was my ex-manager, Sue. She always had such a positive energy and some really good advice for me. Next are my girls at the Rosehill branch; Laura, Tara and Emily. They have been my rocks since I joined H&T as their store manager. They have supported me both physically and mentally during my journey with H&T, and I consider them to be my good friends.

Who are the women you most admire in the world and why?

It may sound funny as she’s fictional, but a woman who inspires me the most is actually a character called Mulan from one of my all-time favourite Disney animations. What made Mulan capture my heart as a young girl was that she shows independence, maturity and bravery, even when she fails to do what she is supposed to. She always tries her best and never gives up.

Most Disney princess stories focus on them finding their true love, but Mulan doesn't have a love interest. Her real focus is on being her own hero and saving her family. Mulan has continued to inspire me as an adult too: she's just a feminist living in a male-dominated world, but that didn’t stop her from believing she could do something just as well as anyone.

The women we draw inspiration from don’t always have to be real people. Sometimes, the characters we meet in books, film and television can feel both motivating and inspirational. We hope you’ve enjoyed this series of interviews with some of our Women in Pawnbroking. It’s always interesting to look into the worlds of other women and to see the similarities in all of us. Happy International Women’s Day to all the women out there, from all of us here at H&T.