Tell us about yourself and your career - how you found yourself where you are now?
Having graduated from King’s College London, I co-founded Fitzdares which was an inaugural Walpole Brand of Tomorrow in 2007 alongside Bremont, Nyetimber, Astley Clarke, Miller Harris and Persephone Books. In 2020 we launched The Fitzdares Club in Mayfair, with further members-only outposts, domestic & international, to follow.
As an original participant of the programme I have followed its success over 15 years and passionately believe in everything it stands for. It has been a humbling privilege to take the reins from Jonathan Heilbron and before him the programme’s originator, John Ayton. With Chris (Downham) as co-chair we have extremely helpful bandwidth to give the programme as much polish and energy as possible.
What interests you in the luxury sector particularly?
That luxury ultimately means ‘quality’. Every founder, brand, product has a story – and it comes with a determination to either solve a problem or improve a customer experience. The Brands of Tomorrow programme, in particular, is effectively an incubator for people determined to raise the bar. That’s an inspiring place to be.
Who are you overseeing this year as part of the Brands of Tomorrow programme?
Like last year, we have an outstanding Class of 2021: Bramley, Eight Lands, Equi, Eto, Hancock, Harper Concierge, Marfa Stance, Motley, My Wardrobe HQ, Rothschild & Bickers, Sarah Haran and The Deck
Have you learnt anything unexpected from the Brands?
I am constantly in awe of how robust the founders are. Since Chris & I picked up the programme in February 2019, our twenty-four brands have been bowled the biggest curve ball they are likely to see in our lifetime. We’ve been fortunate to have Anatome and Equi to keep us all balanced. Not to mention Simpson's and Eight Lands!
Have you ever had a mentor yourself?
I was very fortunate, when on the programme myself in 2007, to have John Ayton who continues to be a close friend. I was probably guilty of having the blinkers on a little too much back then and could have done with catching my breath and listening more.
Who is your source of inspiration and motivation?
I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone unnecessarily but certainly our team at Fitzdares headed by William Woodhams. Stefano Arata as the most talented Creative Director I’ll ever work with. And without doubt, Helen for everything she is doing with Walpole.
If you could have done something differently in your career what would it be?
Taken a breath.
What advice do you have for any budding entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
Follow your gut, with a business plan to back it up.
What advice do you have for those who are not entrepreneurs, but are looking to take the next step in their career?
Good question! I guess just as you are told to visualise the exit before you start, so too if you are not going to actually set up a business yourself it would not be the worst thing to work backwards from ultimately where you would like your career to end-up, taking in the personal and professional development to get you there.
What is your greatest luxury under £10?
A book called SLEEP by Nick Littlehales.
Applications are always open to senior leaders from within the Walpole membership who would like to be considered for appointment as a mentor on the Brands of Tomorrow programme.
If you are interested in Mentoring on our Brands of Tomorrow Programme, please contact Celandine Wade for more information.