Five Minutes with the Founder | Graham Blakey, Hancock

“For me, proof-of-concept is probably the closest definition of success. Financial benchmarks, peer validation and all those things are moving targets but the simple confirmation that your idea is viable is the real feeling of success.

You start out on these journeys with an idea and a wild sense of belief and determination. It can take months before you even have the first suggestion that your concept was worth all the long days, the hard work and tears. Anything affirmative to that is a real success, no matter how small.”

In today’s ‘Five Minutes with the Founder’ we meet Graham Blakey, who seized an opportunity to purchase Scottish raincoat manufacturer Hancock and take the business in a new direction. Here we hear from Graham just how he’s been doing that, what success will look like for Hancock, why Martin Margiela is his greatest inspiration, and why his favourite luxury for under £10 is the humble rollmop…

Hancock is a fashion lifestyle brand and manufacturer based on the outskirts of Glasgow. The company is named after Thomas Hancock, the 19th century inventor who was the founder of the British rubber industry and inventor of the process the company uses to manufacture their handmade raincoats.

The brand offers full ready-to-wear unisex collections that are released in frequent drops and in limited runs, all made in their Scottish factory. Hancock also produce their luxury handmade outerwear for some of the world’s leading fashion houses.

Tell us the story of how you built your brand
I became aware of Hancock a few years ago and after visiting the factory I quickly realised how amazingly unique the manufacturing process was. I was hooked from that moment on.

After helping the management team for a couple of years, the opportunity eventually arose for me to buy them out and take the business in a new direction. I have been working alongside our new creative director, Sam Buckley to relaunch and reposition the brand as a modern, design lead manufactory.

We’ve refined our offering and modernised our approach while staying true to the traditional craft that is fundamental to Hancock’s uniqueness. The first collection dropped on 17th February this year and we are building out from there.

Why did you choose to set up your business in the luxury sector?
To manufacture our handmade coats requires a set of skills and techniques that take several years to master. Additionally, our production is finite, so the combination of these factors makes the product something very covetable and exclusive.

We produce handmade raincoats for leading designers and fashion houses so it’s fitting for Hancock brand to present itself in this market.

What is your favourite thing about your job?
Getting fully involved in the production of our garments.

I spent so many years working as an accountant, sitting behind a desk and playing with spreadsheets that any opportunity to design or work with the manufacturing team is a god send. It makes me extremely happy.

What and/or who is your source of inspiration and motivation?
For inspiration, probably Martin Margiela. He spent his whole career keeping almost entirely anonymous, never being photographed, or having given an interview. He had such a huge influence at Hermès and beyond and I find it quite powerful that he didn’t want public pressure and the cult of celebrity to affect his work. It’s something I think about a lot. I’m not sure to what ends but that level of dedication is powerful.

If you could have any other job in the world what would it be?
I’ve always discussed being a goat farmer with one of my closest friends, it’s a bit daft but I do see myself doing that once I’ve had enough of working.

If you could do something differently in your career what would it be?
Not much to be honest, even the vast number of mistakes I’ve made over the years have taught me a lot, and mistakes are something to be cherished.

Where do you see yourself and your company in 10 years’ time?
I’m focused on building Hancock up to be both a leading lifestyle brand but also a design-led studio that continues to collaborate with established and fresh talent, and to be producing clothing of the highest quality for global fashion houses.

We are aiming to create a “centre of excellence” for Scottish manufacturing, with our handmaking facilities playing centre stage. It’s a long-term goal so I guess that’s where I hope we will be. Making clothes in Scotland.

What does success look like to you?
For me, proof-of-concept is probably the closest definition of success. Financial benchmarks, peer validation and all those things are moving targets but the simple confirmation that your idea is viable is the real feeling of success.

You start out on these journeys with an idea and a wild sense of belief and determination. It can take months before you even have the first suggestion that your concept was worth all the long days, the hard work and tears. Anything affirmative to that is a real success, no matter how small.

What advice do you have for any young entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
There are so many great leaders out there and so many people that will help you along the way if you ask nicely. All of them will have different suggestions so you need to be prepared to trust yourself and make decisions based on all that advice you’ve gathered!

What is your greatest luxury under £10?
Erm, a weird one but probably rollmops. They are 100% not a luxury but they are so reviled in my house, when I get the chance to eat them it feels like a treat.

www.hancockofscotland.com