1.) What inspired your interest in tailoring?
For me, it always goes back to never being able to afford a suit when I was growing up. Other people aspire to get a certain car, but starting my career in the car industry, I never got to buy a suit which was totally bespoke and created by me. When I could afford to buy suits, it was always a case of “There’s a jacket in your size, but you have to buy the trousers in a larger size off the peg”. I realised that I would just love to be able to buy a suit without having to mix and match. Women are pampered when they go shopping, but guys often go into a store and are just left to get on with it.
2.) Did you ever imagine becoming an entrepreneur?
I have had so many ideas and schemes go through my head over the years, but with maturity and experience in life, I realised I could start my own business. Having worked with a number of premium British brands including Aston Martin - I wanted to transfer the idea of quality when I became a tailor, and I realised that there was a gap in the market for this service.
3.) How did your entrepreneurial journey begin?
In 2008, I went to a franchise convention at the NEC in Birmingham as I wanted to see how other businesses had got started. I had many ideas in my head, I knew some were never going to happen, but I always had men’s fashion at the back of mind. Talking to other businesses and discussing their ideas on getting started was really useful. I trained as a tailor and started by making suits for friends and family.
4.) How did you meet Dave Berry and how did you pitch the idea of a partnership to him?
I decided that the next step was to get a face for the brand which was edgy. Dave was always wearing a sharp suit and I emailed him and asked if I could make a suit with him. A few weeks later my phone rang and it was Dave! He invited me down to London, and although he didn’t have much time, I fitted him up for a suit in a hurried measuring in his radio studio in Leicester Square. We got on well and shared a passion for suits and we became friends over time. We talked about Dave being the total face of the business but in the end he approached me and suggested working together.
5.) What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Without a doubt, opening a store. We started our business as a visiting tailor; sometimes working out of the Century Club in Shaftesbury Avenue but in March 2012 we opened a beautiful boutique in New Oxford Street. Getting investment was also a great achievement. For someone to trust your brand and your product, to invest their money to take the business to the next level, is brilliant.
6.) Where do you see yourself and the company in 5 years?
At the moment we work out of a store which has no frontage. It is a beautiful boutique, but the aim is to get a store with frontage or several stores across the country in cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool
We would also like to develop our product range, including more products which complement our suits.
7.) What is October House’s USP?
For me, we have clearly got a great product. The customer goes through the whole process of creating a suit in the design and style they want, from the material to the cut – and it’s that personal touch, which makes us different from other tailors. While I was at Aston Martin, we took customer service to the next level, and I believe that we have transferred that ethos and applied it to October House. We also have a relationship with our customers. They are not just someone who comes in and buys a suit; we believe that they become friends of ours. Our suits start at £695, which is phenomenal given they are Savile Row quality.
8.) Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Look for a gap in the market, be passionate about what you’re doing, and if you need investment, make sure you choose investors who understand and ‘get’ what you are trying to achieve.
Also, don’t branch out into lots of different products straight away. Establish your core product first and get it right, then look at other items such as accessories. Remember to listen to people too, as you don’t know it all. When I worked at Aston Martin, I learnt about providing a service where people could get exactly what they wanted. To get the product right, you have got to give the best customer service – and give the client something they want. Make sure that you can give them the best product and experience.