Magazine article Management Today

How We Beat the Odds: Claire Kent and Bill Byrne - Founders of Running Wear Brand Iffley Road

Magazine article Management Today

How We Beat the Odds: Claire Kent and Bill Byrne - Founders of Running Wear Brand Iffley Road

Article excerpt

We've been running all our lives. In fact, that's how we met Neither of us could find anything we wanted to run in. The clothes that were technical, which ran well, looked like hi-vis vests. We wanted something advanced yet classic and understated.

I worked in the City as a luxury goods analyst, and I was struck by the fact that in this important area of my life, there was nothing luxurious to wear. There wasn't so much a gap in the market as a need for something new. Not every runner would pay for luxury gear, but it's horses for courses. Surely, we thought, if we'd buy something like that, others would, too.

We're entirely self-funded. Bill gave up his job as a maths teacher in 2012, while I continued to do some part-time consultancy work. That was when it felt real, but it was more exciting than nerve-wracking.

It's more than could be said for the launch. We were still waiting for our garments to arrive 48 hours beforehand and when they did they were in the wrong fabric and didn't have pockets. Needless to say, we had to improvise for our photoshoot. We learned the hard way that in the textile industry, no one sticks to deadlines.

The office is our living room in Richmond, south-west London. We're totally hands-on at every stage. We may have a clear idea of what we want, but to deliver that we need designers and fabric-cutters before we can even go to our factory in Portugal. Choosing the right people is crucial. Everyone we work with was recommended to me from my days in the City. …

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