Troubadour Goods

Conversations

Our team finds great joy in learning. We live for any opportunity to connect with talented, successful minds across the globe. Here we share the inspiring stories of individuals we deeply admire. We hope you enjoy the read.

Luke Sweeney

Luke Sweeney Tailor-turned-entrepreneur Luke Sweeney sat down with us to chat about boxing, back-packing, and brand-building…

What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?

My dad always said to me “nothing’s a problem, just an opportunity.” Even when things are a bit rough or bad, there are opportunities to make it better and improve, or to learn and move on to something better.

What advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self?

Go home at 11pm!

What's on your bucket list?

To take a year out with the kids and my wife and travel. My kids are both still young at the moment so once they’ve finished primary school, it’s a dream to travel as a family and show them the world by giving them the proper travel experience of backpacking and ‘roughing it’ in some places. I think about it a lot, it’s something to work towards, and fingers crossed it will pay off and we can do it.

“A lot of people can have investment and open a million shops, but slowly growing a business with a strong foundation is the best.”

What is your biggest source of inspiration, both personally and professionally?

Personally, my family, all of them inspire me greatly. Professionally, Ralph Lauren is the pinnacle for menswear. He’s been so clever in how he’s done it. He started by selling ties out of a car in his twenties in Manhattan and has now created something amazing where anyone can buy into the brand but it’s still considered high-end. You can buy anything from a £30 pair of boxer shorts to something for £10,000, and it’s still a luxury brand. That’s a very clever and inspiring strategy.

Who's your favourite storyteller?

There’s a boxing writer called Bob Mee, he’s a historian and I love reading everything he brings out. I’m a huge boxing fan and sports nerd.

What’s your favourite story?

I love anything to do with Muhammad Ali. I love what he stood for. I read a lot of biographies so I like real stories about people growing into life and business.

Luke Sweeney Tailor-turned-entrepreneur Luke Sweeney sat down with us to chat about boxing, back-packing, and brand-building…

How did you first learn about what you do?

I used to work for my dad, he used to supply the high street with trimmings, like buttons, linings and canvas, anything that fills a garment. As a summer job, I used to go down to Savile Row and a few other tailors and sell them trimmings when I was 15 or 16 – I think he just wanted to get me out of the office! That’s where I fell in love with what I do now. It was purely visual – I’d see the guys looking so cool and smart and it just looked like a really interesting business. I didn’t know how I’d get into it but I knew I wanted to.

How did you get started?

I worked for a guy I used to see as part of my summer job, a man called Timothy Everest. He worked from a house in Spitalfields, I used to go around there and badger him until he gave me a job! He gave me a shot and it all started from there. My business partner Thom was there at the same time, he was around 19, I was 20, and that’s how it all began.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Take your time. Don’t over-expose yourself in whatever you’re doing. Learn the trade. If you want to have the best coffee-house in the world, go and work in a coffee shop. Grow your business organically, based on good results. A lot of people can have investment and open a million shops but I think slowly growing a business with a strong foundation is the best approach.

What's your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?

I’ve got a beautiful light grey, cashmere, double-breasted coat that I’ve have since 2008 and it’s still in incredible condition. I still love wearing it and I think I’ll keep it for as long as it fits me! Even then I’ll let it out if I have to. I rotate the same fabric, but I’ve always got a great navy suit in the wardrobe. It’s a classic and I don’t think you can beat it. When I’m starting out with a customer, I always try and push them into getting a navy suit, as Samuel (Troubadour co-founder) will tell you!

What are your favourite shops around the world and why?

It’s tough as I make most of my clothes, but I love RRL by Ralph Lauren, I love Acne and their simplicity, and I really like Slowear. I take a lot of influence from all three of those brands and companies. They’re fantastic for guys.

What is your favourite city in the world and why?

London. I’ve lived in New York and a couple of other places like Cape Town, but London always draws me back in. It’s a stunning city and I think we’re really lucky to live here. It’s got everything - the hustle and bustle if you want it, but you can also dip out of it. It’s got beautiful architecture and really cool little areas like Notting Hill and Primrose Hill. It’s pretty special, and you don’t realise just how much until you step away.

What is your favourite restaurant in the world and why?

I love any Jean-Georges restaurant, I spend a lot of time in New York where he’s got a lot of great restaurants like ABC Kitchen. In London, I love Granger’s. It’s a really simple and easy restaurant in Notting Hill that does great, healthy food. Mediterraneo and E&O in Notting Hill are also great. Nobu in Park Lane is unbeatable for great sushi – that’s my favourite branch because the atmosphere is great. You can tell I’m a foodie!

If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do?

I would love to build a house on my own island in the Maldives. I’d catch my own fish, take my kids out fishing every day, and wakeboard. Bliss.

Aaron Christian

Aaron Christian Dapper director and menswear editor Aaron Christian talks to us about fashion, film, and finding your element…

What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?

One of my favourite books is by Sir Ken Robinson, called ‘The Element.’ In it he talks about finding your ‘element’ and figuring out the thing you’re most passionate about, because whatever it is, when you’re doing it, times flies. When you’ve figured out what it is, you should attempt to make it your life’s work and career. Reading it was life-changing for me. It allowed me to start digging deeper into my passions like social media and menswear.

What advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self?

I wouldn’t actually want to change anything about my past. I’d probably tell myself to keep doing what you normally do, because every mistake I’ve made I’ve learnt from. They’ve all shaped me and the path I’m on now, so I wouldn’t change a thing.

What's on your bucket list?

In the process of doing it now, but the goal is to create a site called The Asian Man which documents South Asian style. I’m from Malaysia, but my ancestry is Indian, so I wanted to put that culture on the map within the style world. I don’t think we as a culture push ourselves in the creative industries and the arts enough, so I wanted to help create a movement and inspire a younger generation to pick jobs other than being a lawyer or doctor!

“Figure out what you’re really, insanely passionate about. And never be afraid to fail.”

Who's your favourite storyteller?

I’ve got a few. One is my brother Reuben. He does a bit of everything, and is basically my best friend. He dabbles in stand-up comedy and has this way of communicating comedic stories in a fantastic way. He has an exceptional ability to relate to people from all sorts of different backgrounds and I’m constantly learning from him.

Being a director and a film fan, I’d say Ridley Scott is one of my favourite directors and storytellers.

From a childhood perspective, I don’t think anyone beats Roald Dahl. He just had this amazing way of being able to keep something really simple, but allow your imagination to run wild. He transported you into his world.

What’s your favourite story?

‘The Matrix’ – the first film. When I first saw it, I was awed. It was the first film that left me still thinking about it days after seeing it at the cinema. It affected the way I saw the world after watching it.

Aaron Christian Dapper director and menswear editor Aaron Christian talks to us about fashion, film, and finding your element…

If you had to sum up the thing that most motivates you in one word, what would it be and why?

My parents. They came from Malaysia to London to provide us with opportunities. Their sacrifice of bringing us up here and exposing us to all that London has to offer has definitely shaped my going into a creative industry, where hopefully I can inspire someone else from a similar background to do the same and do something they’re passionate about.

How did you first learn about what you do?

I was working in Topman and saw the Esquire editor at the time, Jeremy Langmead, come in. I decided to take a chance by walking up to him and asking for an internship. I think he was taken aback as editors don’t usually have a ‘face’ unless you purposefully search for who they are, so I think he appreciated that and it made me stand out. It resulted in an internship with Esquire, which gave me great insight into the world of fashion editorial.

How did you get started?

Coming out of uni, my brother was working as a freelance stylist and as I didn’t immediately know what I wanted to do with my film degree, he asked if I wanted to work with him, as we’re really close. We decided to create a brand based around our personalities as we thought we were the male versions of Trinny and Susannah! We weren’t.

The business fell flat on its face but it was a huge learning experience. It was a male style consultancy business, but we used a blog to market it when the world of fashion blogging was taking off. Once we got a taste of this new digital world, we stopped the consultancy side and built up the brand which eventually turned into us founding Individualism and it all went on from there.

Is there a particular aspect of your work that you find most exciting or rewarding?

Meeting people and travelling. I love the idea that a camera can allow me to pick any industry, any place in the world, or any aspect of something I’m interested in learning about, and if I find the right person and get the pitch right, there’s an amazing potential to travel and learn. Working with individuals who are insanely talented and passionate about what they do really inspires and educates me.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Figure out what you’re really, insanely passionate about. It doesn’t have to be broad, it can be very specific. Become extremely inquisitive about it and always keep asking questions. Turn up. It’s important, especially nowadays where people think they are entitled to success without putting the hard work in. Work hard. And enjoy it. Have a good balance. And never be afraid to fail. I think that’s the most important key to success.

What is your favourite city in the world and why?

London. I’ve travelled to over 35 countries in the last three years and the more I come back, the more I appreciate it.

It’s so multicultural, in a different way to New York, which has different pockets in different areas. I love that all the languages and cultures are mashed up.

It’s also a brilliant place for young talent. Every borough is different and you get something different from all the different areas. The only things I’d probably change are the cost of living and the weather.

What's your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?

I’ve got a navy blue pea coat, which is a style staple of mine. Even if I’m dressed in absolute rubbish underneath, it falls well and keeps its shape so no one knows! The other item would be a simple white shirt that I can put underneath anything and be a blank canvas.

What is your favourite restaurant in the world and why?

It’s not a specific restaurant – in Malaysia there are markets where you go to eat. They serve cuisine from each of the three main cultures in Malaysia – Indian, Chinese, and Malay, and you can eat some really delicious dishes, like Chinese Hainanese Chicken Rice or Indian Roti Canai. It’s the simplest food but it’s amazing.

If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do?

I never think there’s enough time so this is a great question for me! I’d maybe take my time and travel around all the states of America. There are some tacky ones, but I love the idea of travelling across a whole continent. The landscape is amazing and I’d love to experience how it differs as you work your way around the country.

Dan Ross-Jones

Daniel Ross-Jones Fun-loving financier Dan Ross-Jones chats to us about working to live, vintage cars, and the best places in the world to drink beer…

What advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self?

Something along the lines of listen to yourself and go with what you think is the right thing, rather than what everyone else thinks is right. Often people who think they are right aren’t, so you have to have conviction in your own thoughts and beliefs.

What's on your bucket list?

I think at this stage of my life it would be having kids. I’ve enjoyed my young adult life and you get to a stage where hopefully you can build on what you’ve learnt to pass it on to someone else.

What is your biggest source of inspiration, both personally and professionally?

I’d probably say my dad, because his approach to work and life was what set me up in my life. He never got stressed about things. He always took things in his stride and he worked to live, rather than lived to work. He seemed to go through life without ever worrying about things, he always seemed to be on top of them and land on his feet. Obviously behind the scenes that takes a lot of effort and hard work, but having that kind of persona is quite important. That calm approach to life is really inspiring to me.

“Get the most out of this short time on earth - do what you can to enjoy yourself.”

Who's your favourite storyteller?

I’m going to go with Douglas Adams. He was a guy who knew a lot more than you’d ever guess from his writing. It’s all very silly, entertaining, and confusing, but he was an extremely intelligent man who knew exactly what he was doing but wanted to portray something for the sake of amusement. I like the way he doesn’t take himself too seriously and his style of storytelling is straightforward and not unnecessarily complicated.

What’s your favourite story?

‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, for all of the reasons listed above.

Daniel Ross-Jones Fun-loving financier Dan Ross-Jones chats to us about working to live, vintage cars, and the best places in the world to drink beer…

If you had to sum up the thing that most motivates you in one word, what would it be and why?

Fun. Again, I try to work to live, not the other way around, you want to get the most out of your short time on earth so you should do what you can to enjoy yourself.

How did you first learn about what you do? How did you get started?

By accident. I joined Lazard, where I met Samuel (Troubadour co-founder), as a placement student because my university Economics course involved a year in industry. I told the careers people that I wanted as big a challenge as they could throw at me, and the thing that would hurt me the most over the course of the year, and they said “try this”. I managed to slip in through the back door and do it for a year. It was hard work but it was very rewarding and entertaining, and I’ve stuck in that industry ever since.

If you weren't doing your job, are there any other careers you would have chosen?

I’d love to have started my own business, and I think at some stage I may well do, but I’m still waiting for that killer idea. The idea of being my boss appeals to me and it sounds like something I should do at some stage.

Is there a particular aspect of your work that you find most exciting or rewarding?

In my current role I get to travel a lot. The business I work for is very focused on emerging markets so I get to go to some pretty exciting places to test beer! I’m trying to colour in the map and my job helps me to do that as we’re trying to become as global as we can.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

There’s nothing more important than hard work. It doesn’t matter how smart, or personable, or scheming you are, just focusing and doing work is the only way to do it. My fiancée works in fashion and she keeps getting interns and assistants who think it’s all glamour, and you can just walk in because it’s easy. The ones who succeed are the ones who turn up and work hard as they know it’s important to create a foundation you can eventually build upon.

What do you do on your day(s) off? What do you do to relax?

My biggest hobby outside of work is historic motor racing. My dad and I have a car from the sixties that we race around the UK and Europe four or five times a year on the weekends. It’s great bonding time and certainly more exciting than playing golf together.

What's your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?

I have a coat that I bought about five years ago from A.P.C. and I look forward to winter because I get to take it out. Every year it gets a bit more worn down but as the layers wear you can see the quality underneath it, so it’s arguably getting even better with time!

What is your favourite city in the world and why?

I think it depends on season. I went to New Orleans this year and I thought it was amazing. I went for Mardi Gras so it was insane. I’m going to go back next year, hopefully it still has as much soul outside of carnival. That’s probably my favourite city but you can’t beat London in the winter. It’s incredibly festive.

What is your favourite restaurant in the world and why?

I’d have to go for a place called L’enclume in the Lake District. It’s the place we went to lunch just before I proposed to my fiancée and we’d been there before and loved it. It’s a beautiful part of the world and that restaurant has become the centre-point for us whenever we visit.

If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do?

I’d probably buy myself a house in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish Highlands, and invite all my friends over. I’d use that money to pay for everyone to travel and visit me whenever they wanted. I’d like to live a simple life with no worries, so that unlimited money wouldn’t be spent on anything too ostentatious.

Brendan Murdock

Brendan Murdock Male grooming guru and entrepreneur Brendan Murdock sat down with Troubadour to talk about Ireland, good food, and leaving a legacy…

What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?

My mother has always told me that you can achieve whatever you want to. I think in some ways it’s a bad piece of advice, as lots of people can’t, but it was something that was always in the back of my mind.

What advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self?

Express yourself and don’t be afraid to be creative.

What is your biggest source of inspiration, both personally and professionally?

My partner Mark is quite inspiring, and a lot of my ideas bounce off him. We have a lot of discussions about moving things forward with Murdock, so it’s great to have a collaborator in him. My parents have always inspired me, as well as Ireland and its landscape. I find its openness, friendliness, and the ‘can-do’ attitude that a lot of Irish people seem to have very inspiring.

“The idea of creating something that will exist beyond me is a real motivator.”

Who's your favourite storyteller?

My Granny Murdock. She used to tell a lot of ghost stories about banshees and headless horsemen. It was really in the spirit of Irish storytelling and something that I think will be lost with her generation.

What’s your favourite story?

I’d have to pick ‘The Dead’ from ‘Dubliners,’ which is a series of short stories by James Joyce. I like how it captures a spirit of Irishness. It’s about two sisters getting ready for a party and it’s full of lots of elements that are still reflective of Ireland today – there are threads of Irish openness, and discussions about the land, dreams and crushed ones, immigration, the West, and being constrained by Society. It’s a lovely story.

Brendan Murdock Male grooming guru and entrepreneur Brendan Murdock sat down with Troubadour to talk about Ireland, good food, and leaving a legacy…

If you had to sum up the thing that most motivates you in one word, what would it be and why?

Longevity. I think the idea of creating something that will exist beyond me is a real motivator. It’s nice to think that my company will be around in a hundred years, when I’m long gone.

How did you first learn about what you do? How did you get started?

I’m self-taught. I owned a restaurant in Shoreditch and learnt all about customers and their demands and expectations, as well as how to manage people. It involved everything from human capital to creativity. That helped me massively when a little shop became available and I opened a grooming place, self-teaching along the way.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Visualise what you want to achieve clearly. With Murdock, it’s always been about how I visualised it in five years; what did my stores look like? What do the products look like? Where are they going to be retailed? I think if you are aware of some of the risks, but don’t allow them to overwhelm you, you’ll move forward, but I think if you don’t have a clear image in your mind of what you’re doing, you might struggle when things start getting challenging.

What's your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?

I have an unhealthy passion for Ralph Lauren cashmere and cable knit sweaters, which needs to be controlled! And scarfs. I have a lot of scarfs. You only need so many scarfs in your life and I keep buying too many.

What are your favourite shops around the world and why?

I really like Bergdorf Goodman’s men’s store, Santa Maria Novella apothecary in Florence, and browsing antique shops. I also love Borough and Broadway Markets for food, Monmouth Coffee shop, The Ginger Pig for meat, and Bottle Apostle in Victoria Park Village for wine. My favourite shops are a combination of really strong foodie shops, and shops of discovery that are nicely presented and edited.

What is your favourite restaurant in the world and why?

I really like beach cafés, like the ones on Paloma beach, or the ones in Cap Ferrat, or Plage de la Mala in the Côte D’Azur. Without sounding overly glamorous, it’s really nice to just sit on a sunbed for hours and then go and eat a lovely lunch before going back for a dip in the water. There’s a lovely restaurant called Chiecco in Courmayeur, a ski resort in Italy which does amazing, rustic Italian food – just what you need after you’ve skied for four hours! It’s nice to have things that are cared for and well thought out on a menu. I don’t like overly fussy, foaming, pretentious food. It is what it is, it’s just not for me.

If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do?

It would be nice to tour a whole continent like South America as I’ve never been, and I think it would take a long time to tour it properly. Doing everything from the Inca trails to Patagonia would be amazing.

Kelvyn Smith

Kelvyn Smith Insightful and incredibly talented letterpress printer ‘Kelvyn Smith’ sat down with us to talk about moving, making, and journey-taking…

What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?

When I was quite young, about 13 or 14, I wanted to buy a girl a present for her birthday. I asked my mum what I should buy her and she said to me, “What do you think you should buy her?” All throughout my childhood she asked me, “What do you think you should do?” rather than tell me what to do. That was the best advice I’ve ever heard because she allowed me to think for myself and use my own judgement, which is really important. I’ve used it ever since – all through my teaching and work I constantly ask myself, “What do I think?”

What's on your bucket list?

I don’t believe in bucket lists. I don’t live my life where I’m constantly thinking, “I must achieve these specific things.” I think what I’m doing and the way I’m doing it should just be allowed to progress naturally. I have ambition but I don’t yearn to travel to places or achieve certain things purely to tick them off a list so that I can prove to people that I’ve been successful. I prefer to focus on what I’m doing in the moment. The thing I want to achieve the most is just doing what I do really well.

What is your biggest source of inspiration, both personally and professionally?

The cinema. I’m a big film buff. I’m not inspired by graphic design or much around my subject, but I am inspired by film and the idea of storytelling through images, composition, framing, and understatement. I still go to the cinema every Monday afternoon if possible. I’m particularly fond of the Curzon in Mayfair. I do like to go to galleries, and I am inspired by paintings, but cinema is my refuge.

“The world works at a 100 miles an hour, but getting things done fast is not the best way. Be careful and take the time to consider things properly.”

Who's your favourite storyteller?

An American novelist called Paul Auster. He changed my perspective on writing. You get so lost in his stories and they take you off to somewhere you didn’t expect. You end up somewhere completely different by the end of them, wondering how on earth you got there.

A German writer called W.G. Sebald does something similar. I like to be taken on a journey and being able to relax into the trip, because you trust the storyteller knows where they’re taking you.

What’s your favourite story?

My favourite story is ‘City of Glass’, which is the first story from Paul Auster’s New York trilogy. An accidental conversation leads you to have a series of experiences that lead out of one simple event. Again, it takes you on a journey, misleads you, then leaves you stranded and unsatisfied. It makes you want to retrace your steps. I love the idea of consequences in narrative.

Kelvyn Smith Insightful and incredibly talented letterpress printer ‘Kelvyn Smith’ sat down with us to talk about moving, making, and journey-taking…

How did you first learn about what you do? How did you get started?

When I was at Norwich School of Art, I found an empty letterpress-printing workshop, in the pre-computer days. I realised I could create all of this stuff myself. I spent my childhood making things like bikes with my grandfather in the shed instead of watching television, which I think was important in shaping me and what I do now. I loved the idea of a space to go and make things.

I left art school with a few portfolios that were non-commercial. I showed them to a few design studios and knew within minutes that I wasn’t going to get work in the design business, but they pointed me towards Alan Kitching, a typography professor at the Royal College of Art who had just set up on his own.

He was the only guy in the country doing what I was interested in and I knocked on his door. He sent me away and I went back again a few months later. He told me that my work wasn’t good technically, but if I was willing to learn, he could do with the help and he would teach me everything he knew. I started working for him as an unofficial apprentice one day a week until it gradually built up.

It was a tough four or five years as he’s a tricky character, but I knew the minute I walked through the door that it was where I needed to be. Although I was already interested in letterpress printing, he changed my perspective on it and taught me the technical aspect of it. I owe a lot to him.

Is there a particular aspect of your work that you find most exciting or rewarding?

Making. I love the making process even though I’m primarily a designer. I do like the design process and it’s important to think and problem-solve, but the thing I find the most satisfying is the application of that through building and composition. Composition is the thing I’m really interested in. I love the balance of shapes and how things relate to each other to imply meaning. Design is about application. I prefer describing myself as a maker rather than a craftsman.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

I actually have an apprentice at the moment. My advice to someone starting out would be to slow down a bit. My general philosophy is to ‘do it once, do it properly’. Don’t do things four times and get it wrong three of those. Think about it carefully, slow down, and do it once. The world works at a hundred miles an hour but getting things done fast is not the best way. Be careful and take the time to consider things properly.

What's your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?

I like clothes and have always been interested in fashion. I love knitwear and I stand all day long so I need a lot of comfortable shoes. I live in Birkenstocks, New Balance, and Jack Purcell’s. The favourite items in my wardrobe are a mix of super-comfy shoes and jumpers that also look nice. It goes back to design philosophy – if something looks nice but doesn’t function, it’s useless. If something functions well but doesn’t look nice, it’s ugly. A combination of form and function is the ideal.

What are your favourite shops around the world and why?

The New Craftsmen, which is a gallery/shop in Mayfair that sells contemporary British crafts. I also like a good, old-fashioned hardware shop where you can buy a broom, or tools. All that kind of functional stuff that you need to live your life. There was a place in Westgate-on-Sea, where I grew up, called Howes. It was a real old-man shop but you could get anything you wanted. There’s a place called Labour and Wait in Shoreditch, which is a contemporary, fashionable version of a traditional hardware shop.

What is your favourite restaurant in the world and why?

My favourite restaurant in the world is a fish and chip shop on Margate seafront called Peter’s Fish Factory. You can’t sit down inside, but you can sit outside or on the beach. As an eating experience, eating fish and chips on the beach, whatever the weather, is my idea of a perfect meal. Water, food, a great view, and great company.

If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do?

I would design, make, and build a house on the beach. I’d love to buy a great plot of land in a fairly remote area that I could tend to and build the kind of house I want with a great view, overlooking the sea. I’d love to share it with my friends and family. I’d do it tomorrow if I had the money and time.

Simone Dailey

Simone Dailey Hardworking fitness fanatic Simone Dailey chats to us about personal bests, trying your best, and what makes a great personal trainer…

What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?

The best piece of advice I’ve had was from my mother and she always used to tell me to just try my best. It’s so simple, but so true. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, whether it’s from a work or personal perspective, you can’t compete against anyone else but yourself. If you’re doing your best, that’s all you can do. Just concentrate on yourself and your natural ability will come through.

What's on your bucket list?

The one thing I’d absolutely love to do is to open up a foundation for children to get into sports and bring their talent out. I think there are a lot of children who get into sport but they don’t understand why it’s so important, or how to use their bodies. There are a lot of talented children out there, and if they were nurtured properly to do the right things at the right time, it would result in broken records throughout each sport.

What is your biggest source of inspiration, both personally and professionally?

My personal inspiration would be my mum. She is an absolute powerhouse. She’s the most amazing woman, and the things I’ve seen her do for us and for the business leave me in awe of her. She’s always incredibly positive and strong and makes logistical decisions. She’s great at being able to cut out emotion and it’s amazing to watch.

Professionally, I’m inspired by my coach, Julian Nagi. He’s the most amazing man, and he got me into triathlon. He’s helped me get where I am now and is the person who drives me, as I want to do well for him. If I achieve what we think I can, as we’re a team, hopefully I’ll be changing his life as well as mine.

“It doesn’t matter what you do in life, whether it’s from a work or personal perspective, you can’t compete against anyone else but yourself.”

Who's your favourite storyteller?

Tyler Hamilton as he writes the truth about what goes on in sport. People think that being an athlete is amazing but he shows the grit behind every sport, like the early starts, being on your feet all day, pushing yourself to the limit, and dealing with the mental and emotional side of sport. He does a great job of portraying that.

Simone Dailey Hardworking fitness fanatic Simone Dailey chats to us about personal bests, trying your best, and what makes a great personal trainer…

If you had to sum up the thing that most motivates you in one word, what would it be and why?

Fear of losing. I don’t care if I don’t win, but I hate the feeling of losing. I’ll try my hardest to avoid that by doing anything not to lose at something I want to be good at. That drives me more than anything.

How did you first learn about what you do? How did you get started?

I’ve always been very interested in sports and fitness. I got into it because I hated the job I was in. I used to work at a jeweller’s as a manager. I was living at home at the time and wanted to move away and spread my wings. Fitness was the only thing that kept me going as I never got bored of it, so I figured it was the right path to go down. I didn’t know where I’d end up, but I decided to get my diploma, move to London and see how it went.

If you weren't doing your job, are there any other careers you would have chosen?

If I was good at numbers, I think I would like to have worked in a bank – it’s where you earn the most money! I’d also like to know what it felt like to go to work in a suit. You always want what you don’t have. I work at a job that I’m incredibly passionate about, but the flip side is working at a bank where it might be boring. Often it’s a choice between money and passion. Sometimes you can do really well financially at your passion, which is the perfect job.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

A lot of people have training as their release or hobby. It doesn’t necessarily mean that will translate into you being good as a trainer. There are two aspects: there’s being a knowledgeable trainer and being able to pass that on, and then there’s having the right personality and being good with people. You can’t just train them, you have to get inside their heads and understand where they’re coming from and their mental state. Training is not all about physicality. You need to understand where they live, their lifestyle, their previous training, etc. You need to understand their perspective so you can change it and give them self-belief. If you can master both aspects as a trainer, you’ll be good at what you do.

What's your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?

I have the most amazing fur coat, which I absolutely love. I love it even more because I don’t get to wear it that much, and I’m too scared to wear it often! It used to be my grandma’s and every time I put it on it makes me feel special.

What are your favourite shops around the world and why?

One of my favourite shops is back home in Yarm called Jules B. It’s a very small boutique, but they travel the world, handpick what they think is best, and bring it back. They have the most amazing designers, and everything you buy from them is unique and you don’t see anyone else wearing it. I just bought a pair of Helmut Lang trousers in there, which are amazing. I have a lot of clothes, I just don’t get many opportunities to wear them.

What is your favourite restaurant in the world and why?

Hawksmoor in Knightsbridge. It was the last restaurant I went to and it has the most amazing Chateaubriand and wine.

If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do?

If I had unlimited time, I would train more. If I had unlimited money, I would train more. If I could go anywhere in the world, I would go everywhere and train. I’d love to pick out the best destinations and just do what I love. For me it wouldn’t be about spending lots of money on luxury things, it would be all about the training and putting myself in a beautiful environment to do it.

Ed Walsh

Ed Walsh Family man, adrenaline junkie, and one half of the dynamic duo behind brilliant men’s accessories brand, ‘Alice Made This’, Ed Walsh sat down with us to chat about travel, nostalgia, and why his wife is his biggest source of inspiration…

What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?

“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” It's a Mark Twain quote.

What advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self?

Don’t be afraid to ask more questions. Give 100%. And stop wearing such ridiculous baggy trousers!

What's been your biggest adventure so far?

Travelling through Nicaragua with Alice, my wife. Surfing, kayaking, volcano climbing, jungle trekking, scuba diving and learning from the locals. An amazing adventure full of political history, sustainable tourism and wonderful people. I would highly recommend a visit!

“Don’t be afraid to ask more questions. Give 100%.”

What's on your bucket list?

Too much! Heli-skiing, own a café racer motorbike and learning the drums are high on the list…

What is your biggest source of inspiration, both personally and professionally?

My wife Alice. She is tenacious, driven and intelligent. She’s my inspiration, both at work and home!

Who's your favourite storyteller?

I have a massive soft spot for Roald Dahl. I grew up close to where he lived and where ‘Danny the Champion of the World’ was set. It makes me so nostalgic thinking about his stories. His storytelling helped my imagination run wild as a child.

What’s your favourite story?

Probably ‘1984’ by George Orwell. I love stories about dystopia! I’ve just read a great book by a young author named Elliott Hall called ‘The First Stone’. It’s about a private investigator, in a post-nuclear war USA, which is run by Christian fundamentalists. It sounds heavy, but Hall tells a gripping story!

Ed Walsh Family man, adrenaline junkie, and one half of the dynamic duo behind brilliant men’s accessories brand, ‘Alice Made This’, Ed Walsh sat down with us to chat about travel, nostalgia, and why his wife is his biggest source of inspiration…

If you had to sum up the thing that most motivates you in one word, what would it be and why?

I think motivation changes with age. My motivation is my family as they are what I care about the most.

How did you get started?

The inspiration for Alice Made This came when we couldn’t find any clean, honest and refined cufflinks for our wedding and that sowed the seed for the business.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

1. Write a business plan. It helps to hone your ideas into a workable solution.
2. If the numbers don’t add up on paper then they won’t in reality.

What's your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?

This changes all the time, depending on the season. At the moment it's a pair of Mr Hare Fagin Boots and a Tom Smarte fedora

What are your favourite shops around the world and why?

Isetan Men’s store in Tokyo, seven floors dedicated to menswear, from street wear to formal, it’s so on point and the merchandising is next level.

What is your favourite city in the world and why?

New York. Each time I go it gets harder and harder to come back.

What is your favourite restaurant in the world and why?

Hawksmoor, they serve the finest Sunday Roast in London by a country mile. Their steaks aren’t bad either!

If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do?

Does that include unlimited energy?! If so, I would probably surf, bike and snowboard all in one day.

Mark C.O'Flaherty

Mark C.O'Flaherty Refreshingly honest journalist, photographer, and bon viveur Mark C O’Flaherty sat down with Troubadour to discuss going off the beaten track, finding the perfect light, and why the 80s were such a defining decade…

What advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self?

Grown-ups are winging it. You’re never going to feel ‘grown-up’, so don’t be shy.

What's been your biggest adventure so far?

Last year I visited Hashima Island, which is just off Nagasaki. It’s an abandoned mining town. It’s where they set the last James Bond villain’s lair. I love abandoned places and it was quite dangerous as you’re constantly about to put your foot through a floor, but it was an incredible adventure.

I was also stranded by floods and landslides in Salta a few years ago, which was probably the only time I’ve felt like I was genuinely in danger. I’ve got some amazing footage from that time.

Is there anywhere you've yet to travel to that you'd love to visit? If so, why?

I want to go to Marfa because I’m obsessed with the idea of an art community, and a contrived art town. I’ve seen lots of images of the Prada store and Donald Judd’s images there and I think it would be a really amazing experience. It’s one of the last places in the States that I’m desperate to visit. I love the desert and the idea of driving through it for a very long time to get there really appeals to me.

“Grown-ups are winging it. You’re never going to feel truly ‘grown-up,' so don’t be shy.”

What's on your bucket list?

I would love to go to somewhere super arctic, in the wilderness. I haven’t seen the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), which I definitely want to do. I also feel like I should go to India at some point – every year I intend to go and then chicken out!

What is your biggest source of inspiration, both personally and professionally?

Robert Mapplethorpe’s portrait of Patti Smith for the cover of Horses. He was obsessed with the sun and how the light hit a certain wall in his loft at a certain point every day. That day, they rushed back from a coffee shop to shoot. It’s a perfect image. It’s simple, it’s powerful, it’s pure and raw, and it’s just about her and the light.

I did a fashion shoot based on that image and I recreated the light artificially. Ever since that shoot, the way I look at and create images has changed. I’m much more about natural daylight.

Who's your favourite storyteller?

There’s an American writer called Joe Keenan who was one of the co-creators of Frasier. I have every episode of Frasier on DVD and I have seen them each a hundred times. His books are very much in the same vein as P.G Wodehouse. I love his sense of humour and the layer of farce he creates is very funny and clever.

What’s your favourite story?

My favourite story is anything by J.G Ballard. I love stories of the mundane becoming terrifying.

Mark C.O'Flaherty Refreshingly honest journalist, photographer, and bon viveur Mark C O’Flaherty sat down with Troubadour to discuss going off the beaten track, finding the perfect light, and why the 80s were such a defining decade…

If you had to sum up the thing that most motivates you in one word, what would it be and why?

Money. I think it’s important to be honest!

How did you first learn about what you do?

I went to college in London in the eighties and studied film and all the things I write about, photograph, or am interested in now pretty much stem from people who were very active then. It was a really defining and influential time for me. Particularly the club scene and the arts and design worlds.

I would slavishly read The Face, Blitz, i-D and all of those magazines. It was an incredibly formative period.

How did you get started?

After studying film, I realised I didn’t actually enjoy it! It was an incredibly competitive course and one of the biggest achievements of my life to get in, but whilst I loved the academic side of it and loved film theory, writing about it, and watching it, I didn’t really like making it. It’s a huge time commitment, you’re not sure what’s going to come out, and I don’t really like collaboration that much. I like to do things myself and I have a very short attention span! That led me to shift to photography and writing about the arts, as I was already doing both of those in my spare time.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Assist and network. Those are two things I didn’t do and wasted ten years by not doing them.

What's your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?

I have a vest from the 1980s by BodyMap which I hardly ever wear because it’s now too small and is completely worn, but it reminds me of a really fun time going out to Kinky Gerlinky with lots of people who are now dead. The print is a Hilda Smith print of the world and just looking at it immediately transports me back to the period.

What are your favourite shops around the world and why?

I love Christopher Nemeth in Tokyo. He died recently and his wife Keiko keeps the tailoring label open; it’s a great shop. He also started out in London in the eighties and is very much a part of that scene. Reality Lab, which is Issey Miyake’s concept store in Tokyo that opened last year, is also great. Tokyu Hands, which is a hardware store, is the most amazing general store ever. You can buy 55 colours of key ring in different sizes, and 50 different gaffer tapes. It’s insane and totally bonkers but amazing.

The food hall at Isetan in Tokyo is another favourite of mine. Food is taken to the level of high art. The presentation is so beautiful it’s like nothing else on earth.

There’s also a shop called Arquivo Contemporâneo in Rio that sells a lot of contemporary Brazilian carpentry and woodwork like Sergio Rodrigues. I’m obsessed with modernist, Brazilian furniture – if I could afford it, I would buy lots!

What is your favourite restaurant in the world and why?

This is tough as I’m a real foodie. Simon Rogan’s restaurant, L’enclume – I think he is one of the best chefs in the UK at the moment – and Arzak in San Sebastián, which is pure performance and fantastic Basque food, both deserve a mention.

Eleven Madison Park in New York is next-level dining. It’s theatre, and the food is beyond amazing. They approach the dining experience in a way that I don’t think anyone has done before. It’s incredibly fun and Willy Wonka-esque.

If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do?

I often think that if I won the lottery, I’d disappear for a while, get very, very fit, and come back looking strangely refreshed! Professionally, I would make Civilian online into the most lavish bi-annual print product that anyone had ever seen, without any commercial concerns or restraints whatsoever.

I’d also have physical off-shoots – an exhibition space and gallery – in London, New York and Melbourne, which are three favourite cities where I’d like to spend my time. It would be a place where chefs would conduct amazing experiments, photographers would create installations, street artists would do wonderful things, there’d be literary salons, and an annual literary award – all without commercial pressure!

Simon Crompton

Simon Crompton Inquisitive menswear journalist and blogger Simon Crompton talks to Troubadour about craftsmanship, quality, and the importance of being original…

What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?

When you’re trying to relate and empathise with other people, remember that everyone has a reason for their actions. It’s quite a Buddhist philosophy that if you go back far enough in people’s motivations you understand perfectly what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. It works with anyone from a mass-murderer to just someone who irritates you on the Tube. Thinking through what causes someone to be a certain way makes you very empathetic and kind to other people.

What advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self?

Things are going to get a lot better.

What's on your bucket list?

Not much actually. The only thing I want to do for the rest of my life is watch my children grow up. I’ve got two daughters so I’m looking forward to seeing them grow up and helping as best I can.

“Thinking through what causes someone to be a certain way makes you very empathetic and kind to other people.”

What is your biggest source of inspiration, both personally and professionally?

Personally my biggest source of inspiration is my big extended family. Professionally there are probably about ten to fifteen people I could think of in the menswear industry who really inspire me, as they’re particularly intelligent and original in what they do.

There’s a huge number of passionate people in the industry but passion is only one part of it. You have to be very intelligent with it as well, and there are very few people out there like that. A guy called Michael Hill of Drake's, Luke Sweeney and Thom Whiddett from Thom Sweeney, Tony Gaziano from Gaziano & Girling, and Euan Denholm from Edward Green are all fantastic and inspiring – and of course Samuel and Abel from Troubadour!

Who's your favourite storyteller?

Salman Rushdie. ‘Midnight’s Children’ is one of my favourite books – it’s a great read and I love the way he plays with language. There are very few modern writers who use language and play with things in the way Dickens or Shakespeare would have done in their time. He’s not quite on that level, but he plays with language and finds new ways of describing things, which I really enjoy.

What’s your favourite story?

‘Travels with Charlie’ by John Steinbeck. It’s a fantastic book, written by Steinbeck when he was about 60. He took time off to travel the length and breadth of America with his dog Charlie. I love Steinbeck’s writing. It’s very different to Salman Rushdie. It’s very simple and straightforward, but really incisive and beautiful.

Simon Crompton Inquisitive menswear journalist and blogger Simon Crompton talks to Troubadour about craftsmanship, quality, and the importance of being original…

If you had to sum up the thing that most motivates you in one word, what would it be and why?

Curiosity. A lot of the things I do and write about are driven by that. I find a lot of things interesting and want to ask lots of questions about them to understand them better and dig deeper. I always find it surprising when other people don’t seem to do the same thing, or if they do, they don’t seem to write it down very much.

How did you first learn about what you do? How did you get started?

Again, pure curiosity. I started out by looking at tailoring and suits particularly and just asking questions and talking to people about how things are made and what that means as a result. Whether the impact was practical or aesthetic, I wanted to understand what impact it had. I carried on doing that as I learnt more about the industry – the more I learn and write, the more questions I want to ask.

I started blogging before most people did and was therefore fortunate that I got to meet a lot of people before everyone else had talked to them, or before they were writing about things and how they were made, or what lies behind style and quality.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Do something different. Find a new niche that no one is writing about or that you want to know about. There are a lot of people doing a similar thing to me now, but they seem to have read about it rather than learning or doing something new. I’d encourage people to be original. I see very few blogs about the craft of interior decoration, for example, or a lot of people write about the design of woodwork, but very few about the making of it. Things like that are a good way to stand out.

What's your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?

A navy overcoat made by a tailor called Cifonelli. For me it’s a perfect piece of tailoring. It’s exquisitely made, but you wouldn’t realise just how exquisite unless you were told. It just looks great and you’re not sure why if you don’t know anything about tailoring or are shown how it’s made. It’s not particularly showy or brash, it just looks simple and beautiful. That’s the kind of thing I love.

What are your favourite shops around the world and why?

My favourite shops all take something related to tailoring and do something unique with it in terms of design and quality. The three I’d list in particular are Anderson and Sheppard Haberdashery on Clifford Street in London, Al Bazar in Milan, and The Armoury shops in Hong Kong and New York.

If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do?

Not that much, which is a pretty optimistic answer. I think I’d spend more time on each of the various parts of my life without sacrificing anything in the other parts, such as spending more time with my children without sacrificing my career, and vice versa.

Anthony Huggett

Anthony Huggett Courageous and business-savvy entrepreneur Anthony Huggett talks to Troubadour about seizing opportunities, having no regrets, and why failure is often more important than success.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?

Learn from, and embrace, your failures more than your successes – you learn a lot more that way.

What advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self?

Go back and do what you enjoy doing and what you have a passion for – not what other people think you should be doing or living up to their ideas of who you are.

What's been your biggest adventure so far?

For me, leaving a big company like IBM, moving to Palo Alto in California and running a start-up when I was 28 years old. Going from a big, traditional, secure environment to a place where you’re starting from scratch was definitely the biggest adventure I’ve ever had.

“Never look back and say ‘I wonder what would have happened if…’ If you want to do it, go and do it.”

What is your biggest source of inspiration, both personally and professionally?

I get inspiration from many people – ones I’ve worked with, and ones I’ve worked for. On the business side of things, there’s not one individual but I’ve always liked and been interested in what Richard Branson has to say. I like his ethic and his approach to how he’s built companies. On the personal side, I have some friends who have disabled children and I’ve found amazing inspiration from them on a personal and emotional level about how they deal with some of the challenges they face.

What’s your favourite story?

Probably ‘Casino Royale’, I’m an Ian Fleming and Bond super fan. It’s the book of his that I’ve enjoyed the most.

Anthony Huggett Courageous and business-savvy entrepreneur Anthony Huggett talks to Troubadour about seizing opportunities, having no regrets, and why failure is often more important than success.

If you had to sum up the thing that most motivates you in one word, what would it be and why?

That’s quite a difficult question! I thought about it and came up with ‘cash flow’ – I think it’s important people interested in business know how crucial cash flow is, and I also have to tell my wife at home about its importance as well! It gives you greater freedom to enjoy your dreams.

How did you first learn about what you do?

I’ve learned by doing – I think you learn best on the job. I’ve also tended to fall into new areas by grasping opportunities that have come my way through maintaining good relationships with previous colleagues, or building new relationships. I guess I’ve fallen into a more entrepreneurial way of life from a big business through doing that.

How did you get started?

I went from a big corporate and did an MBA and through my MBA I started to get involved with other entrepreneurs. Through that I found new channels and new routes and eventually started my own business.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Never look back and say “I wonder what would have happened if…” I believe if you want to do it, go and do it. Don’t regret taking that opportunity, regardless of whether it works out or not. I wouldn’t want to be sitting there ten years from now thinking, “I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t gone to California at 28 because I stayed in my corporate job instead…”

What's your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?

Probably my jogging sweatpants because when I come home, I know I’m off the clock and it’s my time to relax – I don’t do a lot of jogging in them! They’re my switch-off, I’m-now-relaxing clothes, so they’re a firm favourite.

What are your favourite shops around the world and why?

I think my favourite shops that I most enjoy going to are the Apple stores – I love all of their products and new technology. I’m a big fan of what they do. I love the experience of their stores – whenever I’m walking past an Apple store in a city like London, New York, or Boston, I tend to pop in even when I don’t plan on buying something, just to see what’s going on. The thing I like best about them is the buzz, and the atmosphere.

What is your favourite restaurant in the world and why?

I have two – one is a local place called Trinity in Clapham Old Town. I like going there because I love supporting local ventures and the chef there, Adam Byatt, has great food and really great customer service. You walk in there and after a period of time they know whether you prefer still or sparkling water and I really like small touches like that. My other choice would be Peter Luger in Brooklyn, New York. It’s one of the best steak restaurants I’ve ever been to.

If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do?

This is another tricky one, but for me, playing golf at Augusta would be the thing I’d like to do most. That’s actually something time or money can’t really buy, because you have to be invited there, so apart from that I’d like to spend my unlimited time playing at other great golf courses around the world.

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