Gormley & Gamble: Why you should take risks in business

Hi Phoebe, tell us a bit about yourself?

Gormley & Gamble is London’s first made-to-measure tailors exclusively for women. Working in tailoring since I was 15, I figured the demographic of the work force has been changing, but menswear tailors are too traditional to keep up with this.

Women have been left in a middle-ground of polyester off-the-peg and four-digit designer, Gormley & Gamble is here to change that, providing the very best cloths, cuts, service and styles available in made-to-measure womens-wear.  And by great service, we mean having fittings at your home or office, and a box of your favourite flavour macaroons. What more could you want from your tailor?

When did your interest in tailoring take off? 

I’ve always been interested in clothing – owning and making. I made my first suit when I was 14 and wore it to my first work placement in tailoring when I was 15. 

When I came around to having to wear suits myself everyday, I struggled to find something of great fit, top quality and the right price. I always thought about doing something about it, ending Britain’s epidemic of sub-standard suits for women, I wrote a business plan when I was 19 and started the company a few months after turning 20.

What made you name the business Gormley & Gamble?

Gormley is me, Phoebe, hello! Gamble is actually a verb, not the noun, and represents the gamble I took leaving university prematurely, uprooting my life, moving to London and setting up the company at a ‘supposedly’ young age.

You took the gamble - excuse the pun - to leave university and launch your business, how much of a risk was this? 

Without a doubt it was a risk, but not one without plenty of consideration. I had my business plan analysed endlessly, my experience behind me, and plenty of mentors to support me in the parts of running a business I was less confident in. It was something I had been planning for years, not a snap decision.

What made you take the leap into business at such an early stage of your career?

Pure, unadulterated passion for the subject is why I took the leap. But why so young? Timing, I suppose, I was unsatisfied with university, a few hours of work each week, I wanted to sink my teeth into something and work towards something big, not just another project that would be finished in a week.

Should more students take risks to start their own businesses?

University is so expensive these days, with so little contact time, and so much is self-taught, that you could teach yourself not only the course, but so much more as well, outside the classroom and spend the £27,000 3-year tuition fee on starting up a company. My advice would be, monetise your hobby.

You’re almost taking more of a risk by staying in university for a piece of paper that may or may not get you a job, where as starting your own business means creating your own job, and hopefully jobs for others too.

How have you found running your own business?

Exciting, a relentless learning curve, eye-opening and restorative of my faith in human kindness. My personal highlight was when our first client, the CEO of Virgin Money, brought 4 three-piece-suits on my first day, and has now set up a direct debit for a suit every month.

There have been big challenges, sure, but far bigger rewards, but it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone that’s helped me along the way, so thanks to them it’s been great.

What’s been the biggest barrier and how did you overcome it?

Finding a good enough manufacturer; when selling a luxury product, finding the right manufacturer is key – you have to know that not only the quality will be good enough, but also that they are reliable, efficient and communicative. So that when we promise we’ll get a client’s suit to her before her big meeting, it’s there.

We spent months trying and failing to find anyone who met our criteria, but we finally did and it was worth all the agonising! They are so wonderful they can even etch the clients name around the edge of a mother-of-pearl button.

You’ve an impressive list of clients to-date, how have you been able to secure high-profile customers?

Luckily for us, people have been exceptionally kind, introducing us to clients, mentors, business experts and exceptional advisors. I believe in good karma, and go out of my way to be helpful to as many people as possible, and people respond well! I’m very lucky to be have met such fabulous people and can’t thank the people responsible for those introductions enough. 

What plans do you have for 2015?

Another year, another 8760 hours. Honestly? I’d like to spend this year having the privilege of meeting more and more wonderful clients. I love going into the law and finance firms and setting up pop-up shops, particularly at women’s networking events, so if anyone reading this feels like inviting us in, just drop me an email.

I’m looking forward to the summer, and making some white suits, which I know a few clients are already getting excited about! I’m looking forward to watching the G&G team expand and all the new expertise they will bring to the table! 2015 will be our first full year of trading, and I have a feeling it could be a good one!

Visit Gormley & Gamble to find out more about the tailor. You can follow the startup on Twitter or like their Facebook page 

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