Hello everyone, my name is Fal Blake, and alongside my husband we set up our business Gresham Blake. Gresham Blake is a clothing brand. We started off as a ‘Bespoke Tailor’s’ and later we introduced ready to wear and accessories to complement our style and design.
I didn’t start off my career in the Fashion Industry. Being a second generation British Indian, being a doctor was the dream!
I met Gresham in 1992 at the ZAP CLUB – when we were both Students. I didn’t quite make to studying medicine but ended up studying Chemistry at Sussex University. Gresham was doing Fashion and Business Studies degree at Brighton University.
When I graduated I went to get my dream job, in the marketing team for a pharmaceutical company– extremely well paid, all the perks, all the benefits, own car, own computer, own mobile phone (which was a big deal in those days!). I worked with them, with my steady pay increases, and my cushy little job – for 5 YEARS- but over this time, I started to get more and more demoralised.
Firstly, by the corruption of working for a pharmaceutical giant. In those days, the pharmaceutical industry was much more unregulated, and it was shocking how corrupt this industry was.
Secondly, with the bullshit and bureaucracy that I had to deal with every day.
Thirdly, by working in such a corporate environment – where I was very much restricted in what I could do and certainly what I could achieve. This suits some but didn’t suit me. I did achieve quite a lot and got several trophies.
My highlight was making page three in the Shoreham Herald – for my company raising the funds to provide an ultrasound scanner for the Urology department at Worthing Hospital. My company purchased this – so that the doctors might prescribe the drugs my company was making – not because the drug was the best on the market (quite soul destroying!) but it made my sales hit the roof.
So, consequently, I was making a lot of money, and myself and my husband purchased a larger property in Central Brighton. The properties were a lot less expensive then of course – our first flat only cost £18k. Whilst Gresham was still studying, he had already started our business and was making suits for friends and family.
When he graduated, he worked with a military tailor in Savile row.
However, his dream was to set up a Bespoke Tailors in Brighton.
At that time, we were living in a lovely four storey house in Hanover, Brighton, that quickly mounted up a huge amount of equity.
So, we sold it and that’s what we used, in terms of funding to set up our own business. That’s when we acquired our first little shop in Bond Street in Brighton. So, being a second generation British Indian, atleast I got my corner shop.
Gresham quickly convinced me to take a sabbatical – of two months. Gresham was very good at the design and tailoring side of things, but not so much the sales. I was extremely passionate about my husband’s tailoring skills – so was very good at selling this. I was also, surprisingly knowledgeable in this field too by then, as I had been alongside Gresham through all his training and inadvertently learnt a lot of skills by then
Now, traditionally, Bespoke Tailoring is a very male dominated and posh.
So, here I was, now running my own Bespoke tailors in the centre of Brighton.
I had a few traits that did not quite fit in to that mould.
Firstly, I was female.
Secondly, I’m not white.
Thirdly, I am very vertically challenged!
But what I did have was a heck of a lot of determination and belief in what we wanted to do. I also, loved wearing the clothes that Gresham made me – how wearing something that fits can really boost your confidence in so many ways – and really wanted to break the stuffy ‘club’ mentality of this type of product.
We wanted to provide a very approachable tailoring service to everyone that was interested in design.
Funnily enough, when we first had this vision, a number of people advised us back then, not to set such a business in Brighton – as who would want a bespoke suit in Brighton? But, in fact, setting up in Brighton was the best thing we did – as the people in Brighton are a lot more clued up and open to new ways of thinking. A number of people have subsequently said to me that if you can make a business work in Brighton, you can make it work anywhere in the world.
I am definitely not what you would typically expect as ‘YOUR BESPOKE CONSULTANT’ if you were buying a suit in Savile Row. And, over the years, I have surprised a number of my client at that first consultation when I have said that I will be looking after them today.
However, what I have found, is what people want is – simply people that are very dedicated to what they do and have skills and knowledge to back that up.
So, here we were, me and Gresham, running a busy tailors in centre of Brighton. We soon went on to design our own ready to wear collections which started to attract whole list of celebrity clientele.
We very quickly got very busy, and quickly lost all balance of life – and my day to day got so much more stressful then the 9-5 lifestyle in my previous occupation.
Obviously, we employed a team and our employee numbers raised, but what we didn’t have was a team of people that were equally as dedicated – or the problem could have also have been that myself and Gresham were not ready to let go.
It was when I went off on maternity leave (not your regular 1 year – but, 6 weeks, then part time – for around 4 more months). Having left the business -to a team, that we had failed to inspire as we had been so clingy to our own business was almost detrimental to us – as we had no proper systems or structure to the way we wanted our team to work with us.
Since then, we made a lot of changes and now we have an amazing team in place that have built several systems that we use to do our day to day business.
However, an interest in ‘health-care’ has never left me.
Three years ago, I decided that I would pursue this again. The world of pharmaceuticals and allopathic health care was not the path I wanted to follow. Rather, the functional health model and how you can use nutrition to be the best you was what I wanted to study.
I love it when my clients put on a suit, and they say, “Fal, this is more than how good it makes me look, it makes me feel good as well!” I hear that being said over and over again.
I have studied nutritional science for the last three years and am now a qualified nutritional therapist.
At Gresham Blake, I have set up a complimentary business called ‘Tailored Health Clinic’ alongside two other great nutritional therapists, Mark Killick and Jo Woodhurst.
We will be offering Bespoke Nutrition and Bespoke lifestyle support programmes. We can analyse your body biometrics using DNA, hormone panels and blood work. We can use this information to guide you through your own unique bespoke plans that can really help deliver the best you. We have even partnered with some great complimentary companies. From eating to exercise to sleep and supplements, we will make a tailored plan especially for you.
It’s all about staying well after all.
So, now I can really make people ‘look and feel good!’
Whilst studying nutritional science, I have learned that unlike nuclear DNA, your mitochondrial DNA can only be passed down from your mother!
The mitochondria are specialized for producing the energy that each cell needs to function, and it is the reason that we can move our muscles or even think thoughts.
On this International Women’s Day, I would like to thank my mum, my mother in law, and the generations of females rooted in my history for my internal strength.
I too am a mum now, and I want my girl to understand that to build a good foundation in life, you may have a lot of bricks thrown at you, but you have keep going. Fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate our achievements.
2020 theme for International women’s day is #EachForEqual, calling for a gender-equal world, with sentiments from so many impressive women out there today, you will be reminded of what you are capable of.
To book a consultaion with me please to either LOOK GOOD, or FEEL GOOD, or BOTH, contact me directly on 01273 609587, or email firstname.lastname@example.org