Tell us about your childhood and what you wanted to be when you 'grew up'?
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia in the 70’s. I actually always dreamed of being a business woman and doing something exciting and wearing gorgeous clothes but that’s as far as my plans went. I studied Music at university and majored in piano so really probably not off to the most appropriate start for my dreams…. My first job was as a part time Saturday Girl in a beautiful homeware store called Match Box, I was paid $24 a week which was equivalent at the time to about £12 and my first purchase was actually a photo frame which I only remembered the other day so that was rather prophetic!
How did Addison Ross Start?
My husband David and his brother started Addison Ross back in 1978, originally creating hand made picture frames for all the West End Galleries and corporate art for hotels and banks. I came along in 1990 and together with David we designed a small collection of marquetry frames. The original idea was that this would be a small side line for me to earn some money but it very quickly took off and within a year we were global, selling to department stores and boutiques from Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue in the US, to Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty London.
What were some early lessons you learnt about running a business?
David had already been in business for many years when I met him so he taught me a lot but there are a number of things, firstly the devil is in the detail, everything we do is meticulously researched and planned so it’s important not to be too impatient. Secondly I would say keep up to date with technology, seamless integration is key to our success and vital for growing a business, thirdly reinvesting profits back into the business is also a golden rule, which at times has been difficult when you have a young family with financial demands but it was a discipline we were particularly grateful for during the uncertain early days of Covid.
Run us through a typical day at work?
We tend to work from our home office 3 days a week and 2 days at our Parson’s Green office although each week is slightly different depending on what is going on. Typically, I’m clearing my emails first thing, always with coffee! And then there might be a couple of zoom meetings with our analytics team, planning emails, tweaking our facebook ads and approving creative for social media. After that there are usually designs to work on with David, photo shoots to plan and PR campaigns to work on with our marketing team. David and I always stop for lunch together, a quick chat and a catch up on each other’s mornings and then back to our desks or off to a few meetings. I try to squeeze in a one hour walk with Boris our Tibetan Terrier sometime in the afternoon and finish by 6pm if I can.
What have been some career highlights so far?
Many years ago we were asked to supply Marks & Spencer with marquetry frames, they placed what we thought at the time was a ridiculously enormous order for £120,000 however when we went back in for a follow up meeting, we were interrupted by the merchandiser rushing in to say he had good news and bad news, the good news was it had gone “bulk” which meant a re order of £1,000,000, the bad news was that they needed the stock immediately! We were speechless, and promptly got in our car and burst into tears! It was this order which allowed us to build our current factory up in Northumberland. However, I must say these days we are more excited about our business and the future than ever before.
What is your favourite Addison Ross product?
My favourite product has to be our new lacquered bobbin Salt & Pepper Mills. We only launched them at the end of November last year and have sold out 6 times since.
What is your go to workwear style?
I always make an effort even if I’m working from home as I feel ready for anything once I’ve made an effort. Having said that I’m fairly casual, it’s usually a pretty top and smart jeans or trousers. I wear more dresses in summer. When we ‘re at trade fairs, I up my game, my default comfort zone is navy although recently I’ve been trying to wear lighter colours when we’re filming as I think it’s more flattering and doesn’t drain my face.
What is it about Libby London that stands out to you?
I love Libby’s tailoring, her simple and elegant styles are very flattering and of course she uses a lot of my favourite colour navy which suits everyone.
How have you mastered a work-life balance?
Probably not and it’s something David and I talk about a lot. The bottom line is if you have your own business and you love what you do it’s inevitable that you are slightly all consumed by it however I do think it’s important to have regular holidays and short breaks booked. I try to make sure we are seeing friends a few nights a week and I also try to book in a couple of special treats like a trip to the ballet or an exhibition every month.
What do you like doing on weekends or to wind down after work?
I find reading is a great escape for me, giving my mind a rest , a break from screens and an escape from reality. We try to play tennis or golf at the weekend, weather permitting and I love cooking a lazy Sunday lunch. Personally I find my best ideas come when I’m not thinking of work at all.
What is your favourite Libby outfit at the moment?
Libby’s Ruskin Navy and White top is right up my street, it’s a perfect combination of stylish, chic yet comfortable. I love the interesting twist of the white tie cuffs. Pairing this with the Navy Fitzrovia Performance Tailoring trousers is a dream which can take me anywhere.
Lastly, what is your key piece of advice for other women in business?
Don’t feel guilty! There are times when the business has to come first and the family needs to wait and other times when the family comes first and the business can wait but either situation is fine as long as you give them both attention, respect and priority at the right time. And perfection is overrated! The house does not have to be immaculate all the time, relax when you can, enjoy your family and tidy up later!