My Life’s Work | Mark Henderson, Chairman, Gieves & Hawkes, The New Craftsmen & Proportion London

In this weekly series, we meet a Walpole member chief executive to discover what makes them tick, how they define success, and what keeps them awake at night. This week Walpole board member Mark Henderson: Chairman of Gieves & Hawkes, The New Craftsmen and Proportion London.

“Born in Somerset, raised in Essex and Yorkshire, after a year of studying law I dropped it to head to South Africa where I worked, fell in love with Africa (and my wife), and studied Marketing at Wits College (now University) in Johannesburg.

Returning to the UK I spent eight years working in the cosmetics industry – initially with Avon and then with Mary Quant, spending a great deal of time in Asia and Japan in particular. I then moved to Dunhill where I spent seven years with a hugely profitable and successful business with a very significant  footprint. In 1996 I joined Gieves & Hawkes as CEO – becoming its Chairman upon its purchase in 2012 by Trinity Ltd. In 2012 I co-founded The New Craftsmen – a 2017 Walpole Brand of Tomorrow.”

WHAT DOES BRITISH LUXURY MEAN TO YOU? 

Confident and understated and with a great sense of place – whether it’s Savile Row, The Isle of Harris or Sheffield.

WHAT’S YOUR VISION?  

To put the humanity and pride of ‘making’ back into the British luxury market.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?        

Launching The New Craftsmen, followed by establishing the Savile Row Bespoke Association.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?     

Happiness.

WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?    

Taking time out.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

The people, and the beauty of it.

LEAST?  

Not much!

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REGRET? 

Not starting The New Craftsmen earlier.

WHAT’S THE SMARTEST BUSINESS IDEA YOU HAVE EVER HAD?

The New Craftsmen – building a platform for the best craftsmen.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIG BREAK? 

Joining Mary Quant – a brilliant designer with a huge sense of fun.

WHAT IS YOUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE? 

Do as you would be done by.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?        

Neil Young.

WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVERUSE?       

“Love it”.

WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?       

Only coffee.

WHAT DO YOU MOST VALUE IN YOUR FRIENDS?      

A sense of true value, adventure and humour.

IN A PARALLEL LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?    

A perfumer.

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE ENTERING THE LUXURY INDUSTRY NOW?

Be ready to serve!