Tell us about your background. What was the journey that led you to create Vincit Vincit?
Although I trained as a product designer, the bulk of my career has been designing packaging for luxury and beauty brands - which I still do, and love.
With Vincit Vincit, I wanted to rekindle my love of product design and production. I had just spent eight amazing years working at Burberry, which was a brilliant journey of discovery in terms of design and brand. But when I left, I was keen to explore a more independent and entrepreneurial approach. I have great memories of the wood factory which my father and grandfather used to run, and it is no coincidence that my design studio is based within a manufacturing facility. I just love designing and making things!
Above all, it’s a playground for me as a designer - a safe place where I get to design for myself, rather than for a client. I was also really keen to learn new things, rather than simply continue doing what I know.
So, you had an incredible career before founding Vincit Vincit. As Director of Packaging Design at Burberry, what was the most valuable thing you learned?
Working at Burberry in such close proximity to the senior creative team provided countless opportunities for learning. I have quite an analytical nature, and it was useful for me to realise you can get such great results by simply following your creative instincts. Doing something just because you love it. Have the conviction to do what you feel is right, and people will follow.
During my tenure there, I was tasked with (re)designing the entire portfolio of fragrances for the brand - such a brilliant opportunity!
Vincit Vincit was born out of my love for all things analog and tactile. I remember spending hours playing with my grandmother on her Solitaire, or Dominoes. I looked around my living room and saw all my son’s toys, which felt so cheap and plastic compared to these. Add to this our addiction to digital interactions, and I felt this real urge to produce items which would echo my memories of quality time spent away from a screen.
The images I used for Vincit Vincit are old family Polaroids, with the tagline “Create the Simple Moments”. The products are intended as a vehicle for those long lasting memories, encouraging us to take time for ourselves and switch the phones off.
Getting anyone to care is extremely difficult! My biggest challenge is definitely to get the brand out there.
I am not naturally of a pushy self-promotional disposition, and I always favour softer approaches like lending the products to architects I love, for instance.
Despite the challenges, what inspires you and motivates you?
I always strive for timelessness. To me, doing something well always feels so much more interesting than doing something new.
This approach is reflected in my sources of inspiration, which can be really random. I have a cabinet in my studio where I keep my “treasures”, which range from old discarded matchboxes to vintage tennis ball packaging. When I developed the first Vincit Vincit products, I bought old bakelite yoyos, and a victorian terracotta tangram.
Vincit Vincit was designed as a counterpart to my professional design practice. Slower, and driven by what I love rather than a specific pre-identified market requirement.
The ethos of Vincit Vincit is that the products are meant to be long lasting. It is this antithesis of a single use/disposable approach which lies at the heart of the brand. That being said, there is a lot more that could be done from a sustainability viewpoint at production level, and this is precisely the area I am looking at now for the next generation of products.
Sustainability is definitely a journey. What would be your top tip to help encourage others to live more sustainably?
Don’t strive for perfection. That can be paralysing, and counter productive (note to self: take one’s own advice more). Find a couple of things you can amend and sustain in your lifestyle that will make an impact.
What are you most excited to work on over the next few months?
Currently I am reviewing some exciting new material options which will provide an altogether more sustainable quality to the products. I am also looking at producing some glass items, which is a lovely link between my design practice - designing perfume bottles - and the Vincit Vincit brand.
With all the experience under your belt, what piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to set up their own company or starting a new project?
Make sure you really love it, because it is going to be your life for the foreseeable!
What do you look for when finding the perfect gift?
I love surprises, so I tend to go off-list when I buy presents for my wife. Typically, I am looking for items that will be unique or come from smaller brands, with great manufacturing quality.
What are your LITTLE FINDs?
Aside from the Vincit Vincit range, of course….
- Caran d’Ache Nespresso pen. It’s a classic, and great to see the Nespresso capsules put to good use.
- Anything by Haeckels is great. I met Dom in Margate a while back, it was such fun getting to see the production in action!
- Good Bubble Hair & Body Wash - we go through so much of that stuff, especially at the moment as our boy loves to play in the mud...
· Favourite TV series right now? I absolutely loved the Queen’s Gambit. Of course!
· Last thing you cooked? I am very into my omelettes at the moment. Always trying to recreate that luxury hotel breakfast experience!
· Favourite Instagram account to follow? @hellokrispee was created by my old boss from Burberry, I don’t really understand it but I love it and in many ways it shares the mindfulness core values of Vincit Vincit.
· Best book recommendation? Shoe Dog is a must read for any budding entrepreneur.
· Perfect way to spend your weekend? Barbecue, beer and friends.
· Best restaurant you’ve eaten at? I love Riley’s Fish Shack, which is the most brilliant understated fish grill on the beach in Tynemouth. It reminds me of being back home in Biarritz.
Country you’d love to visit? I dream of spending time in a desert and I have never been to Africa, so any recommendations on which country to visit there would be welcome!