With Elaine at the early stages of setting up her own business, it got me thinking and remembering my own experience with setting up SK Chase. And I have so many people that I am grateful to. Peter Taylor, owner and Chair of The Town House Collection gave us our first break – as well as being our mentor; he also donated our first office – his own office, to be fair, in the attic of The Bonham Hotel. Prior to that Steph and I had been working from my dining room (which we did love, and spent hours and hours discussing and feeling our vision and the fact that one day, (said Del-boy style) we’d be millionaires.)
Having our first proper office was very exciting. It coincided with us having our first member of staff, Natasha Lynn – another person I’m so grateful for. Natasha has been a core part of our business from the very early stages – she knows and loves our clients well, and the feedback I have received is that this is reciprocated.
There is one company, though, that gave me the most exciting thrill I’ve ever had in business – and a company that I love so much – and all the people in it. And that’s Gleneagles Hotel. I remember meeting the then Marketing Manager, Steve Woods at a Conde Nast Johansens event, when I was still working full time for Peter Taylor at The Town House Collection (Peter supported us in setting up our own business, even when we were working directly for him – more gratitude!). I explained to Steve that Steph and I had set up SK Chase and explained what we did (at this point we had 8 clients) and I asked whether we’d be able to come and see Gleneagles and learn from them (Gleneagles were already hugely successful in selling gift vouchers – and already promoted and sold them via their website).
The long and short of it is that Gleneagles invited us to come in and audit their processes and identify whether there was any way we could improve their gift voucher systems. And I remember putting together that proposal so well. It was the most important document I’ve ever put together in my life. And I loved every minute of it. Steph and I had spent days working on this project – and it was such a thrilling experience to be pitching to one of the best hotels in the world. And we knew that if they decided to work with us, that it would really put us on the map and open so many doors for us.
When I got that call from Steve – I was sitting in a meeting at The Edinburgh Residence and I had already explained to Mark Forrester (Occupancy Marketing) –another person and company that has supported us from the very beginning – that I was expecting this call, and had to take it… And when Steve called and said ‘it’s a no-brainer – of course we want to work with you’, well, I jumped for joy! This was the first strong sign that we had a serious business. And the fact that Gleneagles was willing to work with us at such an early stage in our development – showed courage and belief on their part in innovation (which, as I had explained to me recently by the absolutely brilliant Darren Shirlaw, who founded Shirlaws, is simply about doing things differently). And Gleneagles chose to do things differently. Thank you, Gleneagles! And the wonderful thing is, is that strong relationship still exists today. The team there are a joy to work with and always on the ball.
So, what I’m saying is that I remember that exciting early phase well and so much of our success has been because of other people supporting us. And it’s wonderful to be in that place now, where we can support Elaine – so listen up, if you have any copyrighting needs, Elaine’s your woman. She’s a brilliant writer and has that rare gift of being able to write in different voices and tones. So please do get in touch with her – www.topcatcopy.com.