PUBLISHED: 18:05 21 October 2015 | UPDATED: 18:05 21 October 2015
Graeme Ellisdon, founder of British lifestyle brand Osprey London
How did you get started in business?
I started the business with an investment of £500 when I was 25, hand-stitching leather belts from a hayloft in Kimpton in Herts. The rent was just £2 a week – not a great deal even 35 years ago! I’d always wanted to run my own business and we were soon selling into all the big stores in London and Paris.
What’s your motivation?
At the moment, we’re working on the launch of a new store in our home county of Hertfordshire. I love creating great things that people want to buy: it’s as simple as that, whether it’s a soft leather bag or a sensuous new home fragrance. If you’re passionate about what you do, I think your customer will sense it, however subliminally.
What are the biggest challenges?
The retail landscape is changing incredibly quickly so you have to look ahead to predict what’s coming next. The conventional high street is under pressure: a location that offers stores with easy parking, good food and great service while retaining local character seems to appeal to us all now.
What are the most valuable business lessons you’ve learned?
Take a look at what those around you are doing, but never be afraid of ploughing your own furrow. Work hard and listen to your customers. Keep it fresh and move things on. Be open-minded and seize the opportunities as they come along but, as with life, remember timing is everything!
A second Herts Osprey store, joining the outlet in St Albans, is due to open at Battlers Green Farm, Radlett, before Christmas.