Oliver Proudlock reveals the impact of the reality TV series on his business, and explains why he’s taking part in Small Business Saturday.
Oliver Proudlock is best-known for appearing in Channel 4 reality TV programme Made In Chelsea. He is also an entrepreneur, running clothing and lifestyle businessSerge DeNimes. After starting up as a one-man band, Proudlock now has a team of four in his London office. Last week, in support of the Small Business Saturday campaign, he took part in a roundtable discussion with five small business owners from the fashion and jewellery sectors.
What inspired you to start the business?
I was always very interested in art and fashion. At school I spent the majority of my time in the art school painting. Then I went to Newcastle University, where I studied fine art for four years. I love art and painting but it can be quite lonely sometimes. And the thing I love about fashion is it’s very social and interactive.
I decided to move from art to fashion – it was a very scary move. So I started with a product I was really familiar with – T-shirts. I wanted to create the best T-shirt I could. At the moment graphic T-shirts are massively on trend.
You founded the business in 2011, just before Made In Chelsea producers got in touch. What impact did this have?
When I was deciding whether or not to do the show, one of the key things was how I was going to be perceived, because you never know with reality TV. So, how it would affect my brand, whether it would have a positive or negative effect, open doors or close doors? It obviously gave me a platform and a following, which helped me push my brand. For me [the business] was always my main passion. I love the show but it’s all about my brand.
How important is social media, and which channels work best?
So much is built on social media. We are doing a big push on that now, as well as marketing. For us, Instagram is the most beneficial. And for me personally as well. Maybe three to four years ago it was Twitter. People like to see imagery, they are too impatient to read however many characters it is on Twitter.
How is the business doing?
The brand has developed in size and we have increased the range. Having started with T-shirts – a core collection of eight – we are now doing a lot more denim and working with wool and various other materials.
Each year we are doubling in size. We are now in 27 stores in the UK. I want to double that within the next two years. In the next five years I want to be wholesaling around the world, in America, Australia, and Asia.
Has your sense of style changed since being in the public eye?
What’s a typical day like?
It depends upon the time of year. We are in that transition period now where we have just launched our autumn/winter collection and we are focusing on designing our spring/summer collection.
Who is your target audience?
Anyone from 17 to late 20s – style-conscious, young, creative individuals who aren’t scared to step outside of the mould.
How are you involved in the Small Business Saturday campaign?
I have been involved over the last two years as a small business. To promote small business on one day and get everyone to notice and help small businesses is an amazing thing. I spread the word through my social media handles as much as I can.
What have you learned since starting up?
When you are setting up a small business you have to have faith in yourself and the project and the product you are creating. If you don’t believe in it, noone else will. The key for any small business is being surrounded by a good team and like-minded people.
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