5 Minutes With Elliott Rampley, Co-Founder, Rampley & Co

Elliott Rampley quit his office job in order to pursue his love of fashion and art, something he was able to combine when he co-founded luxury men’s accessory retailer Rampley & Co. The Retail Gazette caught up with him to find out how exactly that combination works.

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Rampley & Co

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Rampley & Co.

I had a varied career before. Originally, I actually studied Egyptian archaeology at university and so I started out as a field archaeologist with the Museum of London.

From here I branched out into working with startups, primarily in a business development role and this led me to work for the Quintessentially Luxury Lifestyle Group where I ran their music arm, organising high-end experiences for high net worth individuals, before branching into marketing consultancy.

Each have had some fantastic highlights but all have contributed to a very rounded experience that has led me to now running my own business.

What got you into the retail sector in the first place?

Rampley & Co was my first foray into retail and was born from a love of a particular product, in this instance pocket squares, and a desire to create my own as I wasn’t able to find a retailer producing exactly what I wanted.

My business partner and I saw that there was an opportunity within men’s accessories and had experience marketing ecommerce stores, so we identified gap in the market and decided to pursue it.

Describe your role and responsibilities as co-founder of Rampley & Co?

Inevitably I end up doing a bit of everything but my primary focus would be on product design, manufacture and brand partnerships.

How has your previous experience aided your current job?

Quintessentially gave me a lot of experience with luxury brands and working with high net worth clients and this is exactly the target market we’re reaching with Rampley & Co.

The marketing consultancy experience then also provided a lot of ecommerce skills and so, although we had no experience in fashion and manufacturing, we were able to launch the business knowing exactly how to get our product in front of the exact consumer we were after.

The general experience of working with start ups also meant we knew the basics of setting up the business and launching a product, so we felt we had a lot of the tools we needed when we decided to launch Rampley & Co.

Your V&A collection is stunning and we understand you have one coming up with the British Museum. Can you tell us how it came about?

Well, we primarily set up the company out of a desire to find something a little different in the market. I’ve always worn pocket squares and loved them as an accessory but found it amazing that women’s scarves have had these stunning patterns and designs ever since Hermés in the 1930s and yet nobody was really doing the same with the male equivalent.

Most of the retailers I was trying had the same old paisley, polka dot and flat colour which are all considered wardrobe essentials, but I was looking for something a little different. From the outset this meant we decided we wanted all of our pocket squares to tell a story and have that point of differentiation.

So, we launched in partnership with the Tate in London and have since partnered with the National Gallery, the Wallace Collection, the Museum of London, English Heritage, the V&A and the British Museum as well as launching ties and socks.

These are all superb institutions with significant heritage and similar brand values and the collaborations allow us to create a product that is truly unique.

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How has Rampley & Co adapted to the challenges that faces the retail industry at the moment?

We’ve focused on ecommerce to start as this has been our experience to date and we outsource a lot of the functions of our company, thus having very low fixed overheads.

This allows us to pivot very quickly and also respond to any challenges as they arrive without fear that a small shift in purchase behaviour or world events could heavily impact our business.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The most challenging aspect so far has been on the supply side so identifying British manufacturers for the products we want to produce and ensuring that as much as possible is handmade.

And the most rewarding?

Absolutely selling a product that you’ve designed yourself and receiving such positive and complimentary feedback from our customers.

Can you talk about any upcoming projects at Rampley & Co that you’re working on at the moment?

We have a few other partnerships due to launch soon as well as a very exciting new sock range and the launch of our first women’s scarves, so watch this space.

What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?

I think the one thing that stands out is that if you’re going into business yourself you should absolutely try and find a product that you’re passionate about.

There’s plenty of opportunity to still make money selling other items but if you’re passionate about it I think it really shines through in your marketing and when engaging with your customers. Plus, you’ll tend to enjoy your day to day a lot more.

What would you say is the biggest risk for the retail sector, given the current climate?

I personally think the biggest risk is that retailers stick their head in the sand and don’t prepare for a variety of eventualities.

Large businesses are often slow to react to change and whether it’s high street retail or the music industry, companies often live and die by this.

Plenty of well-established brands and high street retailers have gone out of business in recent years and it feels that an inability to adapt their business model for change is often a key reason behind this.

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