Each week, Jo Glynn-Smith interviews a successful woman to find out how she made it to the top, and gets tips on maintaining a successful work-life balance. This week, she meets Chloe Read, co-founder and managing director of British brand Newgate.
DESCRIBE YOUR ROLE
I’m the co-founder and managing director of the British interiors brand Newgate. We’ve been making clocks for the past two decades and have just launched a watch collection based on our most iconic clock designs. From day to day, I manage the commercial and sales aspects of running a global business.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST POSITIVE SURPRISE TO YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
Back when we first started making clocks, the interiors world was full of very small, ordinary, functional-looking timepieces. At Newgate, we felt products that measured the time needn’t be just useful, but could also be stylish, contemporary and large in scale. It was something very different, and everyone told us it wouldn’t work – but actually, people loved what we were doing. That positive feedback was fantastic and, since then, we haven’t stopped pushing boundaries.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST DIFFICULT SURPRISE?
It was only when we started to get recognised for creating something different that other people noticed what we were doing and tried to jump on the bandwagon. When you’ve spent several years developing a design to bring it to launch, it can be very challenging to see copycat versions springing up.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN MOST CRITICAL FOR YOUR SUCCESS TO DATE?
Our ability to keep innovating and stay creative. Our British design studios are at the heart of the business. My husband, and Newgate’s co-founder, Jim, heads up the creative team. We’re constantly bouncing ideas around and drawing inspiration from the world around us to make each new collection fresh and exciting.
WHAT’S CHANGING IN YOUR INDUSTRY THAT EXCITES YOU?
The opportunities that the internet has opened up are game-changing. We chose to launch the Newgate watch collection online, rather than at the usual industry shows, because of the direct connection you can make with the consumer. We created mini online product films to inspire people to re-think the way they wear a watch, and to convey our brand values to a new audience.
The watch launch feels as if we’re diversifying into a whole new business. I’m getting to dip my toes into the fashion industry, which is a whole other world from the interiors marketplace: fast-paced, ever-changing and endlessly fascinating.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE JUST COMING IN TO YOUR INDUSTRY NOW?
Be prepared to work harder than you ever imagined.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE SOMEONE TO INVENT TO MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER?
Teleportation, so that I could travel across the globe instantly – I’ve spent far too many hours travelling on long-haul flights.
WHAT DOES YOUR DREAM PROPERTY LOOK LIKE AND WHERE WOULD IT BE?
We’re lucky enough to have just finished renovating my dream property: a Georgian townhouse in Shropshire. When we bought it, the home had been split up into separate apartments, so it took us a year of hard graft to restore it to its original form. The house has starred as the backdrop to many of our recent brand films.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE…
…way to entertain clients and colleagues? Supper at my house, kicking off with my mojitos, followed by roast chicken, roast potatoes and green salad from my vegetable plot, all accompanied by plenty of prosecco. We’d finish with lashings of cheese from our local deli.
…sport to watch? Watching my kids’ sports days and the snail races at our local pub.
…form of exercise? Rowing. I love the early mornings on the river: it’s so peaceful and gives me time to think about the day ahead.
…accessories for work? I have the full Newgate watch collection in my dressing-room at home. Because they are such statement pieces, I love starting with the watch as inspiration and building my outfit around it.
…scent? I’m not a big perfume-wearer, but I love Antonia’s Flowers Tiempe Passate, which I discovered at Liberty.
…work travel destination? You can’t beat Hong Kong’s craziness; plus, I can stock up on fashion there, as I’m so short! But New York is my favourite destination. It’s the most exciting city to be in for work.
…tickets for you and a friend on a Thursday night? The ballet.
PLUG SOMETHING ELSE YOU’RE INVOLVED IN
The launch of our new watch collection means it’s an incredibly exciting time at Newgate. It’s fantastic to finally translate our clocks into contemporary wristwear. We currently have 50 collectable styles in the range and we’ll be unveiling a new design, the Blip, this spring or summer.
WORK IT OUT: CHLOE READ
Chloe chats to Harper's Bazaar about the Newgate watch collection, racing snails, and teleportation...