Just because you work in a high-end business, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re able (or wish) to afford the goods that are on offer there. Sometimes, it may be that you opt for cheaper options elsewhere. This latest piece in our series on local business people looks at the guilty (and sometimes unexpected business pleasures) of high flyers.
Rachel Staunton, Made to Measure, Westminster
Running a boutique in a popular location, Rachel brings together collections from some of the world’s best known locations. She understands the importance of looking the part too and is elegantly dressed, whether at her flagship store or when appearing at a range of social events.
As a leader in local retail who is well known to members of the business community, it might be expected that she always dresses this well. But what about her days off? Does she, for instance, where Prada when relaxing at home?
Over a beautiful cup of coffee at Coffee Geek and Friends, she laughs loudly as I put the question to her. “I like it that you imagine that people see me that way, but home life is a lot more mundane, albeit in a good way!“
She explains that she’s more likely to be found in “a comfortable old pair of jeans and a favourite T-shirt” than anything more stylish. Currently in the midst of a home renovation project, casual clothes are better suited to carrying out the necessary work. But they also make sense when playing with the children and taking part in family baking days. Does she ever feel that she should dress up, in case she bumps into clients when out and about?
“There is an element of that. I’m well aware that fashion is, in part, about theatre. Those who want to look great are obviously attuned to the appearances of others. If I’m out to dinner, then I do make the effort. That’s not just because I’m worried about bumping into others though – it’s because it makes me well good and also comfortable within the environment.”
Finally, I wonder if Rachel might have a fashion tip for our readers. She pauses and then offers some simple advice: “Wear what you like, not what others think you should wear. If you’re comfortable in your own skin, then you’ll naturally be more confident, which makes you look even more stunning.”
Charlie Evans, Chef, London
Charlie’s experience of working in some of the world’s leading restaurants has made himself a go-to chef for those seeking inspiration when it comes to innovative recipes with a truly European flavour. When back in London, however, is Charlie’s cooking all about deconstructing famous dishes and producing meals that are based on French classics? We decided that it was time to find out!
A visit to Charlie’s home, in a rather lovely area of Islington, provided the opportunity to learn more. Seated in his kitchen, offering a surprisingly green view of this part of London, I wondered aloud whether his cooking at home was a reflection of what diners expect to find in a top restaurant. Charlie was honest enough to say that there’s quite a difference!
“Working in a commercial kitchen can be a draining experience. By the time that I’ve finished the shift and made my way home, it’s often the early hours of the morning. I’ll sometimes grab something to eat at the restaurant, but most days it’s a matter of grabbing something at home, before heading for bed.“
I’m guessing, I suggest, that he doesn’t have the energy to cook a proper meal at that time of night?
“Ha! You’re right there! I’ll mainly use this…“, he says, pointing to a toaster on the kitchen side.
It appears that the guilty pleasure in this case is more often than not “cheese on toast, maybe beans on toast, or sometimes just thickly spread butter on there”.
The only real sign that this is a professional that I’m talking to is when I look more closely at the toaster. Charlie explains that he specifically opted for this Breville toaster because it had some nifty functions. It apparently has the option to pop up the toast and take a look at how it’s toasting, before it’s finished. It sounds pretty handy and Charlie tells me that he used the Number 67 website to compare the various toaster models on the market.
As nice as that sounds, surely it’s not toast every day of the week? It doesn’t sound very healthy.
“When I have a bit more time, I will cook Sandie [his wife] a decent slap-up meal. But she’s just as likely to do the cooking at weekends.”
So, there we have it…guilty pleasures from two of Westminster’s finest entrepreneurs. What about you? Do you have similar guilty business pleasures?