My Week: Harry Jarman of Harry Elliot London

The founder of a new company producing British-made luxury swimwear on employing ex-cons, running a factory as a charity, and being down to his last fiver.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

We officially launched last Friday, so my working week at the moment is almost entirely PR-based. It’s all about finding ways to get the brand out there, so I’m out and about, meeting a lot of people and spreading the word. We’ve sent about sixty pairs of shorts to celebrities and we’ve got some features we’re working on with GQ and Shortlist at the moment.

This week has been particularly busy. I’ve been in talks with the Fenwick retail group about the possibility of stocking our products; and just yesterday I sent out another 150 press releases about the company. 

The best part of the job is getting to meet so many different people. The London factory we use is run as a charity and a lot of the people who work there have been out of work for a long time or have had a rough ride. One of the guys making our shorts has just got out of prison, he’s now working to try and give his kid a good life – it’s amazing to have a character like that working for us. Another perk is having the freedom to arrive at work and go home when I want, but so far it’s been all 6.30am starts and 8pm finishes. 

The most challenging thing about the job has been actually finding a factory in Britain – this country makes shoes and suits very well, but in clothing, not much else. I also run an online magazine called Gentleman’s Journal, which we are in the middle of signing a deal to publish in print for distribution at certain spots on the Tube. I do get a buzz from juggling different business interests, but I think I would have stuck with just the one venture if I could go back, as it can be stressful keeping both things in the air. 

The most interesting day I’ve had so far was when I checked my bank account to find the balance was £0.00, which I certainly hadn’t been expecting. Basically, when I had been doing my forecasts, I had underestimated the costs by about half. I had to sell my car and borrow £2,000 from a friend to keep the ball rolling. That was when it began to feel serious: I owed a friend money and had to be able to repay him.

The risk element of having my own business doesn’t really faze me because, at this stage in my life I am only responsible for myself – no family to feed or mortgage to pay. It means that if I do fail, I can just dust myself off and have another go.

 

To find out more about Harry Elliot London, visit www.harryelliot.co.uk

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