Talking Business with Johnnie Boden


    Little London catches up with entrepreneur and fashion retailer Johnnie Boden to talk about his eponymous brand

    What inspired you to set up Boden?
    I was unhappy, and useless at my city job. I had noticed while working in New York that one could buy decent clothes via mail order, so I thought, why not try in Britain?

    What’s the best thing about your job?
    It is lovely to work with beautiful products and so many uplifting people.

    Describe a typical day.
    I wake 6.45am – it’s a slow start. I arrive at work by bicycle at 8.30am. There are endless meetings (some I enjoy more than others) – selecting products, imagery, discussing marketing strategies. Then it’s often lunch at my desk or maybe take the dog for walk. The afternoon sees more meetings, perhaps a trip to the West End. I cycle home at 6.30pm, followed by the gym. I’ll lay the table, have supper at home, do more work, take the dog for late-night stroll, and be in bed for 11pm.

    Was it tough juggling a business with family life when your kids were young?
    I have a very supportive family, so that helped. The thing that really suffered is my social life. I fear I haven’t been a great friend…

    What other challenges have you had?
    Retail is non-stop ‒ one is only as good as the last range. The first 10 years were tough financially, too. Putting our house on the line with three children put some pressure on our marriage. But my wife, Sophie, was great.

    And your proudest moments?
    Having three children with a sense of humour is all one could wish for.

    What’s your advice for someone looking to start up a business?
    Concentrate on the detail as much as the strategy. Think hard about why on earth someone should buy something from you,
    as opposed to an established competitor.

    Which places in the capital are in your Little Black Book?
    Lacy Gallery on Westbourne Grove for picture frames, Heywood Hill for books, The Anglesea Arms on Wingate Road for dinner, and Berry Bros & Rudd for wine.

    What lies in store for the future?
    More products, more shops, and more challenges I’m sure.