Five minutes with the Founder | Olivia Francis, Hamilton and Hare
In this regular series, we take five minutes with the founders of our 2018 Brands of Tomorrow, to meet the personality and discover the motivation behind these young brands. Today we spoke with Olivia Francis, founder & CEO of Hamilton and Hare, a mens’ underwear and loungewear brand.
Briefly describe your company
Hamilton and Hare is a men’s underwear and loungewear brand that set out to give these often overlooked items of a man’s wardrobe the attention they deserve. The focus is on ultimate comfort, using premium natural fabrics and an obsession with perfect fit. The idea is that they look good too – so you’d never be embarrassed to answer the door wearing our underwear or loungewear.
Tell us the story of how you built your brand
Comparing the men’s underwear offering to the female equivalent I saw that it was a very unloved, overlooked category that had seen almost no innovation and a real lack of quality. This seemed odd to me, especially as underwear is actually the first thing on and the last thing off, I think it’s the most important part of any outfit.
Building a brand in this space has taken determination, we’re competing with global super brands that have huge marketing budgets. However, our approach was to focus all our energy on the product and delivering something much better. This has served us well, with word of mouth and organic growth driving the business.
Why did you choose to set up your business in the luxury sector?
It wasn’t really a case of wanting to be in the luxury sector, more that I wanted to make the best product. I think there will always be a market for the best of something across all sectors.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
That I never feel like I go to work. It’s not a job in that sense, it’s just what I do. As a working mother the autonomy of running the business and my own working day as I want has made it possible to do both without feeling overly compromised.
What and/or who is your source of inspiration and motivation?
I look to other British brands who’ve been through the BOT programme and are ahead on the road which is very inspiring as sometimes it can be impossible to imagine how you get from one milestone to the next. I also have several mentors who have ‘been there done that’ and have given me great perspective and moral support too.
If you could have any other job in the world what would it be?
I’ve thought about this a bit, on a bad day when it all feels too difficult and you want to throw it in. But as I don’t feel like I have a job, I really don’t think there’s anything I would trade that feeling for.
If you could do something differently in your career what would it be?
Where do you see yourself and your company in 10 years’ time?
I want Hamilton and Hare to be a global luxury brand, a household name for the best men’s underwear and loungewear and responsible for making men more comfortable every day, all over the world.
What does success look like to you?
Enjoying what you do, the in moment, not just with hindsight.
What advice do you have for any young entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
It is really difficult. It takes much longer than you think. Resilience is the number one attribute you need. It is more rewarding than I could have imagined.