Helen Brocklebank, CEO, Walpole
Helen Brocklebank is Walpole’s Chief Executive. Helen built her career in publishing and specialised in luxury media brands, with more than ten years at Esquire & Harper’s Bazaar, where she initiated and developed the highly successful, multi-platform brand extension, Bazaar At Work for Omega, and created enduring content partnerships with iconic brands including Bentley’s sponsorship of Bazaar Art, Esquire’s Man at the Top for Glenmorangie, and high profile projects with Dior, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Moët et Chandon, Rémy Martin, Wedgwood, and Hermès, amongst others.
More recently, she set up and ran a content consultancy for luxury brands, working with a number of retail and media clients, including Liberty and Boat International.
She also runs The Books That Built Me, a monthly salon and podcast in which she talks to authors about the books that have inspired their writing; recent guests include Louis de Bernières and Jilly Cooper.
In order to be a successful luxury entrepreneur what are three pieces of advice you would give?
It’s all about the customer, don’t go to bed without looking at the numbers: Mr. Micawber’s advice holds true, don’t be afraid to take creative risks.
What are the most important lessons you have learned along your journey?
Passion, self-belief and creativity are essential, but you’ll only achieve your goals if it’s all underpinned by hard graft.
What are the watch outs along the way?
Everyone likes a success story, so keep the inevitable difficulties (cash flow, creative differences, suppliers) to yourself and your business partner. Have a compelling elevator pitch for your business and repeat it with enthusiasm and optimism. If anyone asks, it’s going brilliantly, you’ve never been happier and you only wish you’d taken the plunge sooner.
When you started out who was your biggest inspiration? And what did they tell you that helped make you a success?
One of the consequences of creating Bazaar At Work for Harper’s Bazaar was that I met so many inspiring women who had gone it alone that it ignited my own entrepreneurial zeal: listening to their stories of the triumphs and disasters alike gave me the courage to put myself to the test, and it became inevitable I should launch my own business.
The experience also taught me the importance of having a really strong network: you may not have all the answers, but if your network is strong, you are only ever at one remove from someone who does, and having the support of like-minded people is tremendously encouraging and spurs you on.
Brands of Tomorrow is so much more than a mentoring programme – it is also access to an amazing network. It is so inspiring to see how committed the Walpole membership is to sharing their expertise with the brands on the programme and to see how the programme members bond together and support each other. Makes me think that a logical next step for Brands of Tomorrow is to create an Alumni programme…