Gormley & Gamble: Phoebe Gormley

The female entrepreneur on getting market validation from day one of launching her tailoring service and why 'being the boss' isn't what business is about...

Name: Phoebe Gormley
Company name: Gormley & Gamble
Location: Greater London 
Date launched: 10/10/14
Website: www.gormleyandgamble.com

Tell us what your business does:

Gormley & Gamble is London’s first made-to-measure tailors that is exclusively for women.

We’re aiming to cure Britain’s epidemic of substandard women’s suits by offering an appointment only service at client’s home, office, or at our offices in Bank and Savile Row, then creating clothing that is made from the best materials.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

It all started when I was 14 and made my first suit, after that my love of tailoring was born. I started doing work experience in all areas of the industry and studied it for two years at university.

I left a year early, hence the ‘gamble’, as I was tired of the expensive fees that produced only a few hours of contact time each week. I decided to learn it for myself and handed in my last piece of university work; less than three days later, I had moved to London and was sitting at my desk in our office for the first time.

How did you know there was a market for it?

I knew there was a market because I wear suits everyday and struggle to find ones that are affordable, good quality and are the right fit. I noticed from listening to friends and family that this was a problem for many and so I got to work.

What were you doing before starting up?

I was at university studying costume design and though it is a good degree, I wasn’t learning enough to keep me there for long.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

My Dad has his own company so I think running a business was a normal way of life for me from a young age. I found a note last week from teacher who taught me when I was 12 saying “when you’re running your own fashion company I want to be invited to the parties” so I guess my business aspirations were obvious to others (even though they only became clear to me recently)!

How did you raise the money?

I raised the money through an angel (and angelic) investor, who believes that the business is viable and also who trusts me as an entrepreneur, approving my business plan even though I was just 20.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

The business model is made-on-order, so we have no stock and therefore keep overheads down. We operate out of business incubator Bathtub2Boardroom, which we pay very little to be part of and means we are centrally  locates Bank and get help from lots of great mentors.

Clients can book fittings on our website, then we have the fitting where they can choose fabric, design and 200+ customisation options; after this is all decided the customer pays for the suit and two weeks later it’s ready. We also do pop-up events at law/finance firms and at women’s networking events.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Our biggest challenge so far was definitely finding a manufacturer who prioritised quality as highly as we do. I found the best way to overcome it was to speak to other people who were doing similar things really well, and asking where they did their manufacturing.

What was your first big breakthrough

When the CEO of Virgin Money brought four three-piece suits on my first day, this happened on my first day and that was a great feeling.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Start a business because you have a passion for the subject and you see a gap in the market. Don’t start a business because you want to be your own boss, as it is tough and your always balancing something or someone, it takes a lot of hard work and discipline.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

In five years I want to be preparing to launch in New York and Tokyo. Didn’t I mention I dream big?

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