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Over The Counter

effort the pennies became pounds! Plus the boots had a little design twist. The Red Or Dead story has many twists, with its pop star endorsements - Bros and Kylie - being stocked in multiple retail stores in many countries and of course, the eventual sell off of the brand, and some could argue, a demise in status of a great name that had been created from nothing. Now Wayne and Gerardine’s

They arrived early at the market (or at least they thought they were early) and ended up three rows of stalls back. Never mind, they had had a decent first day with almost £100 of sales. The next day they arrived at the market a lot earlier and got one of the front row pitches and sold more than double that. The story goes from there, with the ambitious duo purchasing vans and eventually a house in London, all with the cash made with a business that started with no borrowings and minimal overheads. What was required was a tremendous amount of work in the lead up to the market and then actually on the day. What also mattered immensely was

that they knew who they were selling to. Why? Because they were in essence selling to themselves. Their story progressed with some amazing pieces of luck and good timing, but both of them perpetuated by their hard work and honesty. Their first collection of eight pieces was shown at another market near to where London Fashion Week was taking place. A lady came on and placed an order for 200 of each piece. That lady was the fashion buyer for Macy’s, the US department store. At this point there was just the two of them. Undeterred Gerardine said they could meet the order and so Red or Dead (a great name - long explanation) was borne. The clothes were then made at an old nurses’ uniform factory and with help from their parents and friends (all untrained!) everything was delivered on time and a relationship was built. The launch of the Red or Dead shoe

brand was born out of Wayne continually bursting out of the soles of his favourite Dr Marten boots. His granddad used to solder the soles of Wayne’s shoes and created the line down the middle, a technique that was to become something of a trademark for Red or Dead. Wayne went on to buy all the split shoes from Dr Marten and his granddad taught the guys that were unemployed in the band to solder them. Basically with a little

Hemmingway Design company counts many worldwide brands as its clients, from Coca Cola (100% biodegradable sugar bottles) to McDonald’s (sustainable ethical uniforms) and of course its multi-award winning entry level housing schemes. There are so many other nuances to the

Red Or Dead story, so many twists and quirks, and the couple are very like the brand they created - slightly off centre and never quite what you would expect - but they always work with a commitment and a belief. When telling his story Wayne never mentioned money apart from right at the start when it was about making enough to pay his rent and those first amazing few

l Speak to people and be honest l Work harder l Spend what you can afford l If you say you will do something do it l Know when you need to get out l Work harder l Pursue what interests you l Learn all the time l Success will then come l Still work hard l Build and keep a great team around you You maybe are wondering why the list is

all messed up? Well, as every inspirational person will tell you, the strangest things and best opportunities turn up in the most unexpected circumstances. Every business has a story, and to be

honest I believe that bricks and mortar retailing will survive only run by those that really care about it and have that story. In these retailing times, good is not enough, and that is why shop names intrigue me greatly. It is as if very little thought is put into them. People spend fortunes and lots of time on the store and stock and somehow that name... that pesky name, well it is usually an afterthought. When Wayne was asked what does Red

or Dead mean? He explained at great length the Cold War slogan and feelings at the time toward the USA’s restrictions on Russia during the Cold War and how this reflected his beliefs. And when asked, but what do you actually stand for?, after a great deal of

Top: The beginnings of Red or Dead: Wayne on his Camden Market stall in 1987. Above: The infamous Red or Dead customised Dr Martens endorsed by a multitude of 80s stars such as Kylie Minogue. Right: Design gurus, Wayne and Geraldine, are now famous for many design projects but most recently for setting up the Vintage Festival.

takings. Money was never the driver. Creating a worldwide known brand was not the driver. In fact, I think that the partnership between his wife and himself took them on a journey and they took every chance and made the most of them. I gleaned a lot from just an hour of

hearing Wayne speak. The parallels that I, as a business person, and you, as fellow retailers, publishers, designers and indeed workers, are many and wide ranging: l Work hard l Think about your location l Know your customer l Take every opportunity that comes your way l Work harder l Follow your beliefs l Have the courage of your convictions

thought and time, Wayne and Gerardine said they wanted to be the first designer clothes company that sold to everyday people. Would I want a ‘factory’ or a ‘zone’ in my

shop name? What do I stand for? How would I answer that question? Well, perhaps as a retailer, as opposed to a manufacturer or designer, that is more difficult, but my answer would be something like this: ‘We care about how we sell, what we sell

and want to share that with everyone...’ What is your answer? Maybe that shop

name doesn’t matter after all...

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