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Business guru and top London tailor Richard Anderson
Business guru and top London tailor Richard Anderson
Opinion » Celebrity Interviews

Interview with Savile Row tailor Richard Anderson

Business guru and top London tailor Richard Anderson talks about getting to where he is today, being a golf caddy in his early teenage years to earn cash, and living on macaroni cheese…

When in your life have you been most broke?
There were two times actually that I've been totally skint, first of all when I was 17 and I'd just started work at Savile Row tailors Huntsman's. I was still living at my parents' house but Huntsman's only paid me £33 a week, that was in February of 1982.
Huntsman's was a very traditional tailor and it was a very traditional apprenticeship I had which is one of the reasons why the wages were so tight at that time. So I had to take a second job, and at one point I even had three jobs, as well as the Saturday job I took a job working in a bar in the evening as well. But you can take it when you're young.

Did you ever fall asleep on the job?
Oh gosh, no. You weren't allowed to do that, you had to really concentrate. My wages really only covered my train fare and my rent so one had to go out and look for beer money from other sources. So I used to work on a Saturday selling Levi's jeans in a shop called Cheapjacks in Watford!

What was the other time you were most skint?
That'll be when I bought my first house in 1989 when the interest rates were going through the roof, and I bought my first house with my girlfriend at the time (who's now my wife). We sat down and worked out our income compared to the mortgage and the food, and found that we were a couple of hundred pounds short. So that was quite tricky, but we got through it.

So what's the worst job you've ever done?
Well when I was a kid there were two that I didn't really like too much. First of all, I was a golf caddy when I was about 14, carrying clubs around for all these old guys and getting £5 at the end of it. I was spending £3 of it on coke and sweets because you were so knackered after walking around.

Secondly, another Saturday job I had was chopping toffee and putting that in boxes for Thorntons. You got as much free toffee as you like but it's amazing because you tend not to want it.

What's your favourite budget meal?
Oh it's got to be macaroni cheese, I love that, I pretty much lived on that the first year we bought the house. It was out of a tin though I'm afraid, I haven't had it for ages but I'm sure I'd still enjoy it.

Any interesting money saving/making tips you've picked up?
I think it's best to live within one's means these days, I think the amount of credit which used to be available has got us into the situation that we're in now. It's all about common sense really, I run my house the same the same way I run my business.

What's the worst thing about being skint?
Well your choices are narrowed, that's the worst thing: you can't go out; you can't buy what you want to. But there's a sort of cleanness about that: your mind is made up that you can't do these things so you've got to think 'right, how am I going to achieve in the future?'.

How did you get out of being broke?
Basically I worked hard, I realised that with the trade I was in I had a great chance to achieve something. I worked very hard and put in the hours and that was it really. There's no magic formula for it, it was just a question of coming in, doing extra hours, working hard and learning as much as I could.

Were you ever close to giving up on your dreams?
No, not at all. Absolutely not. This was the trade for me. I always wanted to stick at it so it was just a question of really kicking on.

What was the defining moment that turned your fortunes around?
I think the big moment was when I became a director of Huntsman's in 1995. I was 31, which made me the youngest director in the company's history. I then set up my own shop in 2000 and that was a real case of getting everything organised and being really financially astute. Once you're in a business situation then you have to be very careful with your money.

Did that take some nerve? To leave a company where you were comfortable?
Absolutely, and I did it at a time where I had four children under six years old. But Huntsman's had been sold and a new team of people had come in, which was the catalyst for myself and my partner Brian to start our own business.

What one piece of advice can you give young people with ambitions of being successful?
Don't expect it to happen overnight. You've got to work hard, you've got to have the enthusiasm for whatever craft you go into. If you get up in the morning and you get that adrenaline feeling for what's going to happen today then you'll do well.

Richard Anderson's book 'Bespoke: Savile Row Ripped and Smoothed', published by Simon and Schuster, is out now. Find out more about Savile Row tailor Richard Anderson here »

Interview conducted by Sabotage Times

Thursday, 13th January 2011

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