Interview with Simon Elliott of Clifton Clothing


Back to the working week & an interview with the brilliant Simon Elliott of Clifton Clothing.

What is your morning routine?

I start the morning with strong walk with my wife and dog from our house in Fulham to the air space office. The walk takes an hour and a half, so we leave at 7am. This time in the morning, playing with Reggie and talking to each other (phone and work stuff is banned!) is very important to me. It relaxes me and gets me set up for the work day ahead.

Tell me about your business.

Clifton is a clothing business that makes high-quality, low-fuss customised sports and leisure wear. We have a really mixed clientele, making products for everyone from Brewdog to your uncle’s 60th birthday party.

What sets it apart from other businesses of its type?

We focus on high quality, ethical clothing that passes the mother test – which means it washes well and stands the test of time. Many of our competitors focus on cheap customised clothing, and it’s true that you can get a low quality printed T-shirt for cheap, but if you want a fully customisable, quality product, which many people do, we are pretty much the only company out there.

How did you get into this industry?

My brother and I started the business at university by accident. I sold designer clothing on campus and wanted to get some customised T-shirts made to advertise the business. It was a nightmare. There were no companies making quality customised clothing, so I looked into doing it myself. I found that there was a real gap in the market. People wanted this product but it wasn’t readily available. We started by making products for other students – for netball teams, ski clubs etc – and we realised that the business had legs. A lot of hard work and a few years later, we still make products for students and individuals, but we’ve had contracts with all sorts of organisations. You can read what they think here.

Do you have any advice for someone starting a business?

My advice for someone starting a business would be to get out there and test your concept to get some feedback on it. Figure out if there is demand and also if your process is workable – too many people spend their hours becoming ‘spreadsheet millionaires’ when all you really need to do is find some customers and see if they like your offering and if you enjoy doing it!

What’s great about air space?

We’ve worked in a lot of different office spaces but air space works very well for me. There’s a sense of community that I love, it’s affordable, it’s central – and I’m allowed to bring Reggie in with me every day, which is pretty much essential.

What is one thing you are looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to someone else joining the team – it’s pretty hectic at Clifton these days!

Simon Elliott is director for Clifton. You can check out their website here.

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