This word comes to mind repeatedly upon talking with Victoria Stapleton, Founder and Creative Director of Brora, the Scottish cashmere company. Her down-to-earth nature mirrors the values that she has embedded in the company she launched 30 years ago from her spare bedroom in London.
Victoria set out to make contemporary, sustainable, high-quality Scottish cashmere, created by talented artisans in local mills. Today, the artisans that Victoria employs keep those traditional skills alive—very often using techniques that have been passed down through generations of families in the Scottish borders.
The company has grown substantially since the days when Victoria had one phone line and sales were all mail order. "I own 100% of the business, which means decision-making can be very nimble. Over the years, I've reinvested profits back into the business to help us grow, but it's been steady and organic."
Today, the offering extends beyond cashmere to brightly colored prints and a full line of women’s clothing, as well as men’s and children’s collections. There are 10 retail stores across the U.K. and in New York, including the first shop that Victoria opened in the Kings Road in Chelsea with a £300 budget.
The ethos, aesthetic and personal style of Brora has stayed constant, with designs often inspired by Victoria’s vintage finds from early morning trips to the Portobello Road market and the many art exhibitions she visits, as a former art history student, wherever she travels.
Says Victoria, “Our idea is to make pieces with love, care and thoughtful details that can be passed down from one generation to the next—timeless designs with a nod to the trends. We produce slow fashion; sometimes it can take 50 processes to make one cashmere cardigan. There is a great deal of hand linking and hand sewing. We have so many customers whose collections go back the full 30 years!”
Victoria credits her success to the trusted relationships she has built over many years—with cashmere, linen and wool suppliers; with photographers and models; with her dedicated employees; and especially with her customers, whom she regularly meets and greets in Brora stores.
When she was looking for an investment manager, finding people and a firm with whom she could build a trusted relationship was paramount. “Markets go up and markets go down, but my Brown Advisory team, led by Quintin Ings-Chambers, is focused on the long term, which is my outlook too. We have very dynamic and inspiring conversations—about the companies in my portfolio, about investment opportunities, about future financial planning. That personal interaction is important to me.”
For Victoria, it comes back to being authentic and to building for the long term.