House of Hackney
Frieda Gormley & Javvy M Royle, Founders, House of Hackney, Brands of Tomorrow 2015
In 2011, Frieda and Javvy sat around their kitchen table in a house in Hackney, conjuring up a brand they could not find; their “perfect brand”. Their vision was one that coupled beautiful and authentic design, with great quality and an accessible price point for the standard of workmanship and a strong social conscience. The antithesis of the high street (where Frieda first entered the retail landscape) laid House of Hackney’s foundation, to stand for low wastage and mindful production, made in England, whilst supporting the creation of UK jobs in the process.
As newcomers to the design industry, Frieda and Javvy wished to challenge the traditional format and demystify the interior design process, opening up the interiors world to a new generation. Launched with the couple’s savings and a small round of investment from friends and family, the design and social principles Frieda and Javvy constituted struck a chord and inspired consumers in the midst of a global recession. During financially uncertain times and after a decade of white walls, the reaction to the prints, colour and well-made unique product was unanimous and inspired an emotive response across the generations.
Five years on, Frieda and Javvy have carefully navigated the brand from its infancy, building a strong operational foundation to ensure the customer receives the best possible service. A lot of time is spent polishing the in-store experience at their award-winning flagship store in Shoreditch (awarded 3rd best store in London by Time Out), following concessions in Harrods and Liberty. The brand also achieved Walpole Brand of Tomorrow status in 2015 and that same year, Frieda was awarded Young Entrepreneur in her hometown in Ireland.
In order to be a successful luxury entrepreneur what are three pieces of advice you would give?
Create a brand proposition and product that you believe in and which stands up quality wise – your customer will think the same and will return.
Identify what you do best and do it well – endeavour to own that area in the market.
Keep your finger on the pulse, read the market and the reactions you get and continue to innovate and excite.
What are the most important lessons you have learned along your journey?
Be a kind leader and treat your team (and supply partners) well – they are your most important component.
Hire the best people you can at the earliest you can – good people will transform a business (and your life).
As a business leader you need to be strong mentally and physically – business is an endurance test and requires the stamina and performance of an athlete. Get enough rest and sleep to recuperate daily, eat well and exercise to help keep you a strong mind and body.
Use your intuition on things – it is always a good indicator.
What are the watch outs along the way?
People – hire slowly, fire quickly. Be careful about who you bring into the company from the outset.
Have a strong financial person watching your finances and cash flow.
Invest in a good back-end system which will give you accurate stock and reporting capabilities.
When you were started out who was your biggest inspiration?
Barbara Hulanicki who created the Biba concept. The story of how she re-imagined the retail experience and turned it on its head using her vision is a constant source of inspiration. Serendipitously she was our first customer when we launched our store and imparted some words of wisdom to Frieda about balancing being a mother and a business leader.