Five Minutes with the Founder | Marielle Wyse, Founder & CEO, Wyse London
Over the next few weeks we’ll be meeting the founders of our 2019 Brands of Tomorrow, learning more about their young businesses and what makes them tick, and uncovering some of the secrets to their success so far. Today we meet Marielle Wyse, Founder & CEO of Wyse London.
TELL US ABOUT WYSE LONDON
I’ve always loved clothes and used to make all of my own. However I could never find the perfect cashmere jumper at the right price. I wanted something design-led, but not over designed, something infinitely wearable.
I was helping a friend with her accessories business, one day she said – ‘why don’t you do it yourself’ – so I did.
In 4 years it has grown to be a successful business with a strong presence in over 200 stores around the world. I have also designed exclusive ranges for John Lewis, Soho House and The Aspinall Foundation.
WHAT DOES BRITISH LUXURY MEAN TO YOU?
The world looks to Britain to take the lead in design, quality and individuality. We just do things with a twist here and with brilliant touches. I really think we have some of the most fantastic labels in the world.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR WYSE LONDON?
At first the success of Wyse London took me by surprise, as it was all based on designs that I wanted to wear. It sold exceptionally well and in the back of my mind I always wanted to broaden the range (hence not calling it Wyse Cashmere). I am increasing our product ranges (we already have a successful range of merino and t shirts) to include cotton and silk tops and dresses.
I am also maximising direct selling opportunities and innovations, offering the customer a quicker turnaround, responding quickly to what the customer likes and ultimately what I like!
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Not having formal design training has in many ways freed me up. I’m not constrained by conventional forms. I just have an idea and try and find a way to get it made up. It constantly surprises me when I get it right!
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
It definitely has to be the reaction from the customer. When they say ‘I’ve had so many compliments’ or ‘I wear it all the time’ it makes me so happy. That’s the reaction I love to achieve.
WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?
What’s your greatest extravagance? Lisa – my personal trainer. It keeps my head focused, a real indulgence but brilliant for dealing with stress and vital to my mental wellbeing.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR?
The fact you are your own boss. You decide where, when and how… You have to work on a gut instinct to a certain level, which can prove invaluable.
Least? Running the business solo can be very lonely. It can get very tough. You have to make difficult decisions constantly. As the business grows it gets more complex and you have to learn aspects that aren’t necessarily your strength. Take the dreaded excel for example, not my favourite. Plus managing people, that’s a minefield in itself.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REGRET?
Not doing this sooner. Starting a business at 49 means you have to get it on the road sharpish. I just wish I’d had the confidence earlier.
IS THERE ANOTHER BUSINESS OR A FOUNDER THAT PARTICULARLY INSPIRES YOU?
People that come from a non-business background and make it work. Take Morgane Sézalory who started the Sezane brand in France. She used to tweak fashion garments and sell them on eBay. She now runs a multi million pound business with flair.
WHAT IS YOUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE?
To sell what I like and to design what I would wear. That’s probably why you never find a yellow jumper. Not my colour!
WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
Which living person do you most admire? There are so many – my friend Jules who is a landscape gardener and is up every morning working at 5.30am. In the more public eye – possibly the royal Princes, for highlighting the importance of mental health
WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVERUSE?
“Immediately”. “Are you ready yet”. “As they say”. “FFS”. (sorry!)
p.s. This has all been dictated back to me.
WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?
Keeping the business running, successfully and in good health. Also two teenage children.
WHAT DO YOU MOST VALUE IN YOUR FRIENDS?
What do you most value in your friends? Honesty and being on my side. They just inspire me.
WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE STARTING UP THEIR OWN BUSINESS NOW?
Take small confident steps. Keep it tight and be able to afford what you plan to do. Be bold and confident though. Listen, but ultimately listen to yourself.
Be prepared for a turbulent journey.
GREATEST LUXURY UNDER £10?
Posh dog bones. They are really expensive but they give me peace. Then I find them tucked under my pillow as a gift!