Leather goods brand Grace Gordon is making waves in the fashion industry with traditional craftsmanship and contemporary designs.
The company, who’s bags and accessories are designed and made in Britain, is a rare find in the fashion world these days, especially with the substantial rise of “fast fashion”. They have a commitment to only using the finest raw materials and ensure that customers are paying for quality, not branding. With their modern simplistic designs, Grace Gordon is cementing itself on the must-have lists of many fashionistas from around the world.
I was lucky enough to chat to Grace the founder and designer of Grace Gordon, who let me in on the her life as the owner of the rapidly growing brand. Grace also shared some fabulous advice for future entrepreneurs, spilled where she gets her inspiration from, and explained her ultimate style rules.
Tell me the Grace Gordon story. How did you begin? Did you always dream of designing accessories or being in a field similar?
I worked for a global high street retailer in their buying team before going it alone.
I’d spend hours looking for simple bags without heavy branding and with a super clean aesthetic. I soon found that there really weren’t many brands offering these types of goods made in the UK so set about making them myself.
I’ve always been fascinated by craftsmanship and how, with considerable skill, you can make something beautiful with the most humble of materials. It’s this that really drives me. Leather is so wonderful to work with, it has character and personality, each hide is different so my customers really are buying one of a kind no matter how many designs we’ve made.
Who is the Grace Gordon woman?
She’s a woman who likes to invest in quality basics.
Life goes above and beyond the clothes, and handbags, you buy. I’m a firm believer that fashion should work to enhance the wearer both inside and out. It should enable you to get on with your everyday life feeling confident and comfortable.
What have you learnt about business and entrepreneurship since starting Grace Gordon?
Maintain perspective and have fun with it.
When you start your own business it’s unchartered territory so can be nerve racking at times but worrying won’t get you anywhere. Have faith in yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
What is the best advice you can give to someone who is aspiring to start their own business in the fashion industry?
Work hard and be innovative, think about why your product will get noticed in an ocean of others.
Your typical day looks like?
There’s no such thing as a typical day!
Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing though, it tends to start with strong coffee.
Do you get to travel much for Grace Gordon? If so, where’s the spot you’re dying to go back to the most?
Yes, lots. I don’t really have a favourite place; I get as much enjoyment and happiness from a trip to rural Wales as I do a week in New York just for very different reasons.
I’m a real wanderer, exploring beautiful places is something I love, and there’s nothing like turning a corner to discover something amazing which you never knew existed.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere. It sounds cliche but it’s just in my nature to soak up inspiration and tinker with different ideas. I think it is for anyone creative really, you don’t just switch off because you’re not in the office.
Your favourite Grace Gordon piece at the moment is? How would you choose to style it?
I honestly don’t have a favourite, I wear them all. Over winter I’ve been wearing a lots of deep, dark colours so the black pieces have been by my side.
As summer comes along though I can’t wait to see how our natural leathers patina in the sunlight.
I probably have a soft spot for our Lucy bag if I’m honest though. It was my very first design and is named after my sister.
What is your ultimate style advice?
Always stick to clothes which suit your own personal style and body shape. Fashions fade but with a set of quality wardrobe basics and a few pieces which really compliment your style you can’t go far wrong.
Is there a particular businessperson you look up to and admire?
There are lots. Kirsten Green stands out for me as an inspiring figure in e-commerce and in pioneering the wave of growth for a new type of startup retail businesses.
On the men’s side, Paul Smith is also a favourite of mine. His approach to life and business are equally admirable. I feel as though his brand finds the perfect balance between clean design and English wit.
What does the future look like for Grace Gordon?
Happy. The brand’s gone from strength to strength over the past year. This has allowed me to work on lots of new designs which I’ll be launching in the Summer.
I also have a few PopUps planned and am expanding the team so all in all, a busy 2016 for team grace-gordon.com!
Image credits: Grace Gordon