Thursday, 13 October 2016

Fashion Exchange London Tom Cridland and Phoebe Gormley

Tom rocked an Oxfam jumper during his entertaining speech.
Two of the star speakers at an action-packed Enterprise Nation Fashion Exchange in London this September were the amazing Tom Cridland and Phoebe Gormley of Gormley & Gamble.
Phoebe Gormley second left Credit: Attollo Lingerie

These groundbreaking entrepreneurs were full of unique, interesting and unmissable tips on how to create a successful fashion brand.

Break Free!
Phoebe did not want to spend £9,000 on her final year at university in return for just an hour of tutoring a week. She knew she could do more with that money! She took a gamble hence the name Gormley & Gamble. She began by joining an incubator startup with Bathtub 2 Boardroom which only charged her £120 a month for a desk in the office.

Whilst also studying at university, Tom's dissatisfaction with the throwaway culture in fashion grew from watching other students buy cheap dresses every week instead of buying 1 really nice dress every 6 weeks. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do at the beginning so started with the desire to make 'the perfect pair of trousers'.

The new and wonderfully named Entrepreneur's Shirt in Pink Panther

Tom, in his own words foolishly only took out a £6,000 loan to start his business which quickly ran out after 3 months. However it got him up and running and despite some comical situations at times (not having stock ready for the launch) his passion and flair for PR would start to quickly build his brand. 

As Tom says "It's lovely not having to follow anyone else's rule book".

Be Cheeky!
Image result for sheep on savile row

Savile Row was pedestrianised in 2015 for a Wool Week promotion that involved sheep grazing on a specially built pasture. Phoebe took the opportunity whilst visiting Savile Row to speak to a tailor friend and cheekily ask if she could share space in his shop. He agreed she could for the same rent she was already paying elsewhere. Phoebe wanted to move in around 6 months when her contract was up but the tailor insisted she do it "next week or never!". Phoebe agreed and took the pain of paying double rent for the next 6 months.

It was still a good saving as it costs £25,000 to a month to rent a ground floor in Savile Row. The prestige of this location would mean that some patronising people would now have to stop dismissing Phoebe as just 'a seamstress doing alterations' and respect her a professional tailor.

One of the things I loved most about Tom's talk was his determination to ignore PR advice that he should save up £2,000 and pay a Made In Chelsea star to wear his trousers on Instagram. Instead they drew up a list of people they genuinely admired to cheekily approach with the offer of a freebie! Tom is a keen drummer so first on the list was Elton John's drummer Nigel Olsson. 

Tom Cridland Instagram

Tom's approach is now legendary and went along the lines of "Hi I'm 23 and I've started a new business. Would you like some free trousers?". Drummer Nigel loved them so much he wrote back asking to buy more pairs and crucially for Tom he then forwarded Tom's email to stars such as Daniel Craig and Leonardo DiCaprio who have since worn the brand. Tom's tip is to not send expensive freebies to people until they have given you permission to do so.

Friends, Family & Finding Customers
Phoebe used her father's professional network to ask if they knew of any professional ladies who needed tailored clothes. Her first client was the CEO of Virgin Money and at 6 foot 2 inches tall and struggling to find clothes that fit was perfect to benefit from Phoebe's skills. She purchased 12 items.

Tom used MailChimp to email everyone they knew about the label launch. They worked really hard on promoting to friends, friends of friends and everyone in their personal network. His sister Debra brought in contacts from her previous position with Universal Music.

The press Phoebe got for being the first female tailor on Savile Row sent her organic web search ratings for Gormley & Gamble through the roof with top listings in every applicable category and helped her sales figures leap from 5 to 6 figures in a year.
Emma Jones put together a wonderful Fashion Exchange appreciated by all.

Phoebe mentioned how she once wasted £2,000 on a PR agency and all she got was a one-liner in the Metro. She recommends London Fashion Agency with fees starting from £39 and Fashion PR Resources which start at £28.

Tom worked really hard on PR for both the label launch and crowdfunding campaign. To generate lots of press attention he said:

"A good idea and a good story about your product are preferable to just having a celebrity wear your product".

Tom's Top PR Tips are:

Tom's superb new charity collaboration

1) Create a story to make you stand out.
2) Drive sales with PR and not Google AdWords. 40% of Tom's customers are from the USA due to TV exposure over there.
3) Pester journalists with stories and updates until they feature you. Tom did not let tetchy journalists telling him to get lost deter him
4) Have a Dropbox set up with high resolution images for PR purposes that you can easily invite journalists to view.
5) Stalk celebrities online! Tom said you can find out what nearly every celebrity is up to on MailOnline. This is very handy for finding proof that a celebrity has been wearing your clothes and is where Tom spotted Leonardo DiCaprio wearing his trousers.
6) If celebrities accept the offer of a freebie ask them to send you a photo of them wearing it, they may not do so though. Dame Judi Dench actually photo-messaged and said use this photo in any way you like. Stephen Fry also wore his free trousers on a Valentine's Day date with his partner that got lots of coverage.
7) Check with photo agencies if you can use any photos you find and ask for a discount if you are a new or small business.
8) Set up a Google on celebrities you have targeted.
9) Use to find celebrity contact addresses "but don't go mad!". Tom once had an email back from a publisher complaining that he had literally emailed everyone in the entire office. It's £30 a month to subscribe.
10) Be so good you can start your own PR company! Tom Cridland Public Relations

Customer Delight
Phoebe's maxim is "for just a little more money than the high street I can make things that fit perfectly for you". Most women may settle for trying something on and if it's a reasonable fit they purchase it. Phoebe wants to give you an A* made to measure vibe not a B+ it will do vibe. One of her customers loved all the clothes she ordered so much that she instantly ordered 5 more of everything. 

Face-to-face contact with customers is crucial to Phoebe. She did not go down the internet only route (where people key in their measurements) as it makes no sense for tailoring. She is currently looking for her own space to sell that she can make hyper-feminine and pretty.

Manufacturer Relationships
Phoebe's Top Tip: "It's so hard to find excellent manufacturers, look after them, if they like a tipple drop whisky off to them on a Friday afternoon, pay them on time." A sourcing lady once wasted six months of Phoebe's time supposedly trying to find her a supplier. Another supplier backed out of a deal with her stating that she was too young. The massive inconvenience that this caused led to Phoebe sending him a glitter bomb envelope.

After the fantastic success of his first product Tom now moved on to finding a way to do something unique with the sustainability vibe that really drives him, Talking to manufacturers led to his next innovation the 30 year sweatshirt. They were able to show him samples from the 1970s that were still in good condition which therefore made the 30 year longevity a reality. The durability is achieved by luxuriously manufacturing the garments to last longer.

Finally: Work Hard!
Tom often stays up working until 2am and self-shipped all his products in the early days of the business. Phoebe works 6 days a week including Saturdays and stays open some nights until 10pm to suit when her very busy clients are free for fittings after long days at work.

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