Rose and Willard is a luxury womenswear brand, based in London and all items being made in Britain. With beautiful designs that are created to flatter, Rose and Willard is for the achieving, individual, modern woman.
With their spirit in the name - Rose (feminine) & Willard (bold), it is no wonder that they have made pieces for the likes of Pippa Middleton, Charlotte Riley, Gemma Arterton, Michelle Dockery and Naomie Harris.
LS: Tell us your story – about you and Rose and Willard.
R&W: Prior to setting up Rose & Willard I worked in the City (was there for nearly 14 years).
Progressively, and from my own shopping experiences, I realised there was a shortage of clothing options for professional working women – so I decided to launch a brand to fit this gap in the market.
This decision also coincided with a crossroads I had reached in my career such that I had reached as far as I could in my existing role and so was considering my options.
In setting up the brand I wanted to commit myself to ethical practice, environmental awareness and the promotion of positive body images for women
Rose & Willard launched at the end of September 2014.
LS: What do you value the most?
R&W: Personally – my husband, my family and my dog.
LS: Professionally – the knowledge that I, and the team, know we always strive to do the right thing.
R&W: What gives you courage?
LS: Believing in what we’re trying to create.
R&W: Plus fear of failure.
LS: What is your greatest frustration?
R&W: Feeling impotent – specifically being in a situation where something has gone wrong but the solution is out of my hands.
LS: What gets you through the day?
LS: What can people count on you for?
R&W: Telling it like it is.
LS: How do you create balance?
R&W: I’m not very good at that and it’s something I really need to work on – I’m all or nothing.
LS: What is your greatest fear?
R&W: Losing any member of my family.
LS: How do you remain calm?
R&W: I read a lot and walk a lot (the latter almost always with my lovely dog).
LS: Its 2016 (yikes!) - What are the main focuses for Rose & Willard this year?
R&W: Developing further brand recognition. People are starting to get to know us, not just in the UK but overseas too. I’d like us to be the brand people think of when they consider ethical luxury womenswear.
LS: When times are not so good how do you lead? What do you put in place?
R&W: There is always an open-plan, flat structure here. I keep no secrets and encourage the team to discuss anything that’s on their minds. Similarly when the business has faced a hiccough I am honest with the team about where we are and what it means.
LS: What do you nail in leadership?
R&W: I always say that there are no silos and no hierarchy – a good idea is a good idea no matter who suggests it. This has led to open communication and empowerment such that members of the team having flexible and value-add careers.
LS: How do you motivate and inspire people?
R&W: I always talk to the team not at them. I tell them that there are no constraints to their role and I will facilitate their development however I can. I’m also very strict on not having anyone (except me) work longer than 8 hours per day.
LS: Who is the best person you have ever worked with and why?
R&W: I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a few mentors during my corporate career. My first boss in the City was one of the most inspiring and hardworking people I ever worked for. He led from the front. My second boss always had an open door policy. My third boss always asked what I needed from him in order to do my job better. I’ve taken all this advice and brought it to Rose & Willard.
LS: What is your saving grace as a leader?
R&W: There’s nothing I would ask anyone to do that I would not be willing to do myself and my team knows that.
LS: What brings out your dark side?
R&W: I don’t suffer fools gladly.
LS: What are you certain about?
R&W: That technology is going to transform this world beyond our recognition.
LS: What is your go to pair of shoes/ lucky pants / fave song when you have an important meeting or you have to present?
R&W: I love a well-fitting, well-made trouser suit. I’ve been wearing our Rodor suit (which I have worn to numerous events) but have started to fall in love with our Rebus suit.
LS: Most embarrassing leadership moment (that still brings you out in a sweat?)
R&W: The team often brings in chocolates and cakes – I tend to have more than my fair share…
LS: Would you employ you?
R&W: I hope so.
LS: How do you keep fit for business?
R&W: I lift weights.
LS: What is taking up your thinking space right now?
R&W: The next collection which is going to be quite different to what we’ve produced so far.
LS: Favourite book on leadership?
R&W: The biography of Peter the Great by Robert K Massie. Peter the Great transformed Russia and dragged it out of the dark ages – some of his methods were debatable but the country was never the same.
LS: How would others describe your style of leadership in 3 words?
R&W: Firm but fair.
LS: What is the difference between being in a business and owning a business?
R&W: It’s chalk and cheese. Owning a business brings with it a responsibility that doesn’t exist when one is an employee. Not a day goes by when I do feel the responsibility of knowing that the decisions I make can directly impact the lives of the people I work with.
What a delight to hear about where it all began and be taken along their jounrey so far.
Photos by: Lorna Jane Newman
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