I didn’t know what to expect from my week’s work experience at Gormley & Gamble; a brand new tailoring company exclusively for women, with fitting rooms on Savile Row and an office in Bank: a million miles away from what I’m used to in sleepy Suffolk.
My fears evaporated as soon as I met Phoebe (managing director at Gormley & Gamble), she was waiting for me outside the city office at 10:30 on the dot; I had met Phoebe a couple of times before as she lived with my brother at university, but here she was now head of her own tailoring company ready to spend a week with me teaching me that this luxurious world of bespoke tailoring is just as glamourous and as challenging as it appears. And believe me... it is, especially to a bright eyed bushy tailed 19 year old.
G&G is located in ‘Bathtub 2 Boardroom’ a charity that provides work-space for entrepreneurs. I got given a desk and a cup of tea from Phoebe (with the milk poured in before the teabag was taken out – an office thing I presume??). It was a hub of energy; everyone seemed like a big family, all welcoming and eager to help each other out.
It was the little things that made me excited, that this is what I was waiting for, what I’ve been studying for, and what I will go off to uni to continue to study for. Granted, it wasn’t the usual tailoring/fashion industry kind of office you’d expect because it’s filled with lots of other start-ups in all sorts of industries, but it was a working, real-life city office.
That first morning Phoebe spent her time explaining how everything works and showing me around the office and fitting room. I was fascinated by it all, what was a rail of master model suits to them, was a rail of the most expensive and beautiful suits I had ever seen! Everything was so ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’ in my eyes that if I had £1 for every time I said those words then I might be close to being able to afford one.
Then it was lunchtime. For me at home ‘lunchtime’ is comprised of finding the nearest MacDonald’s and buying the unhealthiest food we can find, but not at G&G! We were heading off to Savile Row anyway to collect some fabric, so for lunch we met up with my brother and headed off to Phoebe’s favourite – Sketch. She used to be taken here for lunch when she was doing work experience in tailoring – and now it was her chance to continue the tradition.
For anyone who hasn’t been to Sketch, it’s hard to describe without saying “the coolest place I have ever been to, ever”. It’s one of those places where I think I could write a whole post about it alone, but the one thing I will say is when you’re there, go to the toilet... That is all.
After lunch we sauntered down Savile Row, bumping into other tailors she knew, and had a look through Holland & Sherry’s fabric samples, trying to find the perfect shade of white for a bride-to-be who’s getting a suit for her summer wedding.
G&G only had a few whites in their books, but Phoebe kept saying we had to give the client lots of choice – so we ended up giving her about 20 shades of white to choose from. I was given a sample of double sided cashmere that was £570 per metre; I was praying not to get mugged on the way home: take anything but my cashmere!
G&G gives all their clients a box of Ladurée macaroons in their fittings. The client even chooses the flavour when they book their fitting online. I confessed that I’d never had a macaroon so we made a quick pit stop at the gold grotto Ladurée in the Burlington Arcade. Again it was like Sketch, for anyone that has never been it can only be described as mouth-watering.
Just like that my first day was over! The rest of the week was a whirlwind of blogging, researching, doing fittings with clients, collecting photos to share on our social media pages and running errands with Phoebe and Rasha, (I didn’t meet the other Milly!). I’d never really seen the ‘City’, but we explored everywhere, running to the tailors in Leadenhall Market, around Fenchurch Street dropping off suits to clients, and up to St Paul’s to admire the view.
It would have been so easy for Phoebe not to include me in client’s fittings, or to do it all whilst I watch standing in the corner, but she didn’t. I was included and introduced as if I was another tailor working for G&G, every piece of equipment, measurement, fabric, shape, cut, button, trick-of-the-trade, theory, was explained to me in detail as she took the measurements from clients.
I was asked endlessly to share my opinion, and helped Kate, the Bride-to-be choose her jacket cloth, style and cut for the big day; the experience in each fitting/alteration was invaluable - I learnt so much.
On Friday Phoebe and I went to take some photos at the Armourers’ Hall where the launch party/her 21st birthday will be held in February 2015: It was a great opportunity for me to be appointed art director for the shoot, and we snapped away all afternoon getting photos of the suit and surroundings for the website and upcoming invitations.
Looking back on my week at Gormley & Gamble, I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to work under Phoebe’s supervision: she has already achieved so much and I know she will go on to achieve above and beyond with this company. She is one of those people that are not only incredibly talented at what they do, but intelligent, switched on and full of refreshing energy. There is no problem, big or small that could stand in her way, not a person who is too intimidating or important to speak to; an incredibly popular member in the office. It is a brave decision to leave university and an even bigger one to leave in order to set up a company in the city of London; she has done all of this and more.
None of this would have been possible without her help, support and guidance. I have learnt so much from this experience, none of it I thought possible, and have jumped at every opportunity. For me, the next step is applying to university and I’m going to use this experience as a platform to go on to achieve more. I now feel more confident in not only my application, but also what I want to study.
Coining one of her favourite phrases, Phoebe you are a ‘mega-babe’ and thank you for having me and good luck for the future, I hope that one day I can return and become part of Gormley & Gamble’s future with you!