An Interview with the JellyGuru
What did you want to be when you grew up?
My ambitions as a child were fairly typical at a young age, I wanted to be a footballer, and wear the famous white shirts of Hereford United. As I grew older I wanted to be a brain surgeon as for some reason I thought this was the pinnacle of all jobs, as on TV clever people were always compared to brain surgeons. By the time I was doing A Levels all I knew was I didn’t want to be an accountant.
What was your first job?
Thanks to nepotism I worked for an accountancy firm where my dad was a partner every Saturday entering data onto a new computer system. I worked there throughout my time at University, with my first “career” job being a trainee accountant for Josolyne & Co in Macclesfield. So my ambition of not being an accountant failed miserably.
How did you get into fashion?
At the age of 27 I was still an accountant working for a motor dealership called JJ Cookson in Macclesfield. I was becoming bored and needed a new challenge, so I asked my first employer Josolyne & Co if they had any clients looking for a management accountant. They introduced me to Andy Scott, who at the time had a small chain of sports stores and 2 stores called BANK. We hit it off straight away and being a cocky sod I thought the job was mine. Months later Andy finally gave me an offer. Knowing him as I do know, he is always blooming late. So I joined him and began to get myself involved all aspects of the business. Which I guess is how I got into the world of fashion.
What was your personal style growing up?
I have always been something of a non-conformist, and like to do things my own way. I had friends who were sports casuals and others who were Goths. So I decided to invent my own look which involved bright neon jumpers that were 4 times to big, and the arms would be twice too long, over black jeans with frayed bottoms that hovered above a pair of green canvas shoes. This look evolved to include a tea cosy I wore on my head as a woolly hat. I don’t think you will be seeing my look influence todays trends any time soon J
What is your favourite brand?
I worked in branded fashion retail for 15 years, and now work with a number of brands helping them with online strategies, but if the truth be told I am the least brand loyal person I know. I shunned brands as a youngster, and then wore whatever I got for free during my time at BANK, being a bit of a cheapskate. Once I had left Cloggs I deserted clothing brands once more. I always used to say my favourite brand was the one that was making me the most money J.
What would you say is you style of management?
I am a natural delegator. I have an opinion on everything but am good in a work environment at recognising when people who work with me are good at things and I let them get on with it. If anything my approach is too hands off for some. I was mentored in my time at BANK by a lovely lady called Jess Long, who is an excellent coach. My chairman at the time Luke Mayhew thought it would make me more conventional in my approach. Fortunately for me Jess told me that my style was refreshing and worked for me so keep doing it!
Who are your biggest inspirations?
I am typical of most people and was inspired at an early age by my parents, and my older brother. They shaped the person I am, and therefore how I approach life. My mum is an angel and sees the good in everyone, so I take the same approach, which means I am always upbeat and confident in all I do. I worked with my Dad and saw how he worked with people, and didn’t act like a boss. I admired this and adopted the approach myself. My brother and friends also influenced me, making me question most things and make up my own mind. Later on my ex-wife Anna gave me a kick up the arse at a time when I was drifting through life, and set me on the road to become the businessman I have now become.
What makes you happy?
As I said earlier I am fortunate to be an upbeat happy guy. I like going out socialising with friends, and genuinely having a good time. I am equally happy taking my girlfriend and her kids to the park on a sunny day to have a picnic. I am a simple soul at heart.