Tom Broughton, Founder, Cubitts, Brand of Tomorrow 2015
Cubitts produce handmade spectacles and sunglasses. They were born in King’s Cross, London, in 2012, and now have two workshops: Soho (37 Marshall Street) and The Borough (9 Park Street). Cubitts offer full eye testing, and made-to-measure bespoke services. All their frames go through fifty stages over six weeks, and are created with both modern technology and traditional artisan methods (custom pin-drilled rivets, mitred joins, hand polishing, etc.).
“I founded Cubitts in 2013. As a life-long spectacle wearer (a reasonably strong myope, since you ask) I was always obsessed with frames – which consoled me through the lean first year. The turning point was taking on seed investment (from a customer no less), and opening our first practice in Soho. Since then, we’ve opened four retail sites in central London, and grown the team from two to thirty two. It’s been much more challenging than I could ever imagine, but hugely rewarding – not least because of the forced introspection. You learn a lot about yourself, and in particular what you’re rubbish at.”
In order to be a successful luxury entrepreneur what are three pieces of advice you would give?
Stay flexible, and be prepared to change. Simplify wherever you can. Make a product you genuinely love.
What are the most important lessons you have learned along your journey?
Develop a framework for making decisions. Without that, there’s a good choice you’ll suffer from choice overload.
Have a confidant – if you don’t have a business partner, a friend or a partner will do. But having someone to challenge – or someone you can vent at – will be a huge help.
Have an idea about how you’re going to get your products to customers. If it’s through an agent or retailer, make sure you account for their cut. If it’s direct to consumer, remember that you’re going to have to invest to get people to come to your website or open a retail site.
What are the watch outs along the way?
Cash balance. It’s very easy to spend. Expenditure is usually pretty certain, but income isn’t.
Try to cut through the hubris and apply an analytical eye. If you really want to employ that social media agency to run your Instagram account, have a clear criteria for success.
If you strive for perfection, you’ll never get there. Get to 80% right and move on – you can always come back to sort the last 20%. [NB This probably doesn’t apply for financial accounts]
Value your own time. There’s an opportunity cost to everything you do.
When you were started out who was your biggest inspiration? And what did they tell you that helped make you a success?
Lawrence Jenkin, a master spectacle maker who’s been making frames for half a century (his family used to run Anglo American). While his experience was incredibly helpful, his encouragement was invaluable – particularly after a pretty brutal first year. And my parents, who not only gave birth to me – but remortgaged their house to lend the company money when we were out of cash and about to go out of business.