Luxury Leader | Graham Shapiro, Founder & CEO, Graham Shapiro Design

Graham Shapiro, is an award-winning inventor, designer and digital entrepreneur. Here he shares his advice for those looking to make it in the luxury industry, what inspires him, and what he would be doing in a parallel life.

He is an Ambassador of Innovation for the University of Cambridge, Freeman of the City of London, Fellow of The Chartered Society of Designers and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Graham invented the interloopmailer® and Reggie®. His company, Graham Shapiro Design, has produced branding and websites for some of the world’s most respected companies over the last 25 years. Highlights in the luxury sector include working alongside clients like Bentley, Clive Christian, Rolex, Stephen Webster and more recently The Duke of Edinburgh International Award.

What does British luxury mean to you?

For me, the definition of British luxury primarily revolves around three criteria. It must have a strong British artistic content, reflecting the essence of timeless good design. Secondly, it must be the result of British craftsmanship or expertise and finally, it must have an international dimension.

What’s your vision for the company?

My vision for the company is that we will remain leaders in our field. We will continue to work with clients who share our ideals and who protect their standing and value reputation, one that is founded upon brand integrity, respect for others and concern for our planet.  Our company will continue to work with those clients who enjoy multiple, overlapping objectives that embrace several aspirations simultaneously.

What do you see as the future of luxury?

The luxury industry will continue to prosper providing we allow ourselves to dream. The industry will enjoy continued growth by adapting to the expectations and evolving values of consumers. Brands that show exemplary respect for the environment for example, will continue to attract dedicated followers. Young people who emerge as the next generation of consumers will expect their chosen brands to be in tune with their values, the issues that matter to them. This in turn will be shaped by an increasingly competitive environment ensuring that only the most intellectually astute will flourish.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by those who work tirelessly for others. I have long been impressed by the Duke of Edinburgh International Award and what it does for young people, all over the world. It is such an inspiring, solid and long-standing champion of young people with some incredible success stories. We were therefore delighted when we partnered with them to create their website and produce the official guidelines for how the brand is to evolve, operating in 130 countries. This is both an honour and a responsibility, one that we take very seriously because we have to get it right, for the sake of successive generations. I am inspired by an organisation that has devoted itself to the service of others, in exactly the way that it has been doing, for decades.

What was your big break?

Well, I was very fortunate, as a sole trader at that time, the first contract for Graham Shapiro Design was actually to produce an array of European product brochures for Samsung.  I always knew that I had the necessary skill to do a good job but at the same time, you do need the breaks and this was my first.  I was so determined to ensure that I made the most of what looked like my golden opportunity. At that time, I was working entirely alone but even so, I still needed to make a strong impression, so I created what I knew to be some highly original and innovative concepts. I decided to hire an old mill and that clearly helped to convey the right impression. I made my presentation to win a pitch that later proved to be worth in excess of a quarter of a million pounds. Samsung subsequently awarded the contract to me and that was the big break that began this incredible journey and turned me into an international business. This became the foundation upon which Graham Shapiro Design was established and has led us toward the business we are today. Looking back over the past 25 years, I consider myself blessed in several respects. I am grateful for the opportunities my clients have entrusted to us and I value my incredible design teams who surround me. This has enabled us to strive, achieve and succeed.

What piece of advice would you give to someone entering the luxury industry now?

Believe in your dreams. Seize every opportunity. I would also counsel anyone entering the world of luxury to ensure that they remember to treat each client as a bright, well-informed, intelligent consumer, capable of making wise choices. Consumers and clients are to be treated with respect, not talked down to but instead, catered for in a way that ensures they come back to enjoy repeat purchases governed by impeccable service coupled with a unique customer experience. In this way, luxury clients will stay interested and loyal for two or three lifetimes, as successive generations continue the legacy of luxury.

In a parallel life, what would you be doing?

I love people, I feel close to and closely allied with those people who care and I suppose I would have applied myself to working for the well-being of others; this remains my focus and where I have directed my own Charity, The Graham Shapiro Foundation to do whatever we can to alleviate suffering, wherever we can.

What’s your best luxury under £10?

My best luxury under £10 would be a bottle of Malbec.

What’s your favourite luxury?

Like everyone else, I enjoy my pleasures and I have to say I love my watches and cars.