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Tom Cridland: Turning disappointment with Brexit into optimism for the future

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With 51.9% of voters opting to leave the European Union in the recent referendum, Britain now faces a future of change and uncertainty.

For many business leaders in Britain, Brexit will lead to a period of change and potential turbulence as the nation adapts to the forthcoming alterations in politics and the economy.

Following news of Brexit, the British economy took an immediate impact; stock markets were panic-stricken and the pound drastically depreciated. The economy may have since begun to stabilise, but its future remains largely unknown, posing significant challenges to businesses based in Britain.

Thomas Cridland is the chief executive of his eponymous sustainable fashion business called Tom Cridland. His company is a world-leading sustainable fashion brand with customers in six continents.

Half-British and half-Portuguese, Cridland was “disappointed” with the decision for Britain to leave the EU, “as someone with a Portuguese mother and manufacturing team”.

However, Cridland is now determined to move forward with optimism and continue to expand his business.

When first starting the business at the age of 23, Cridland “wanted to create a direct to consumer e-commerce fashion brand offering luxury clothing at an accessible price point”. The Tom Cridland brand began “specialising solely in making the perfect pair of trousers”.

The Tom Cridland brand was able to materialise from initial concept to reality when Cridland received a £6,000 start-up loan from the government two years ago.

Cridland was “overwhelmed” when he found out that his application for the loan had been successful, saying: “It’s amazing that I could receive start-up support to start Tom Cridland with no fashion or business experience of any kind and aged 23.”

Since the loan, the business has rapidly grown, having a current turnover of £600,000.

Tom Cridland has a long list of high-profile customers including Daniel Craig, Sir Rod Stewart, Ben Stiller, Hugh Grant and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The business has become largely focused on quality, sustainability and honest pricing. Tom Cridland campaigns to encourage more people to consider items of clothing as long-term investments rather than as disposable pieces of fast-fashion. Now, perhaps best known for The 30 Year Collection, which is a range of clothing with 30 year guarantees, Tom Cridland is working hard to change the throwaway culture of the contemporary fashion industry.

Although it is impossible to know what the economy and politics of Britain will be like post-Brexit, Cridland is committed to continuing his campaign for long-lasting clothing. “We will always produce our 30 Year Collection and guarantee it for three decades,” he informed me. “It’s a true labour of love for us and nothing will stop us”.

Cridland reflected that “Brexit has, thus far, made the cost of our manufacturing team being in Portugal more expensive”.

To any other young people hoping to follow a similar entrepreneurial path through businessin post-Brexit Britain, he advises: “Look for a British manufacturer!”

Nonetheless, Cridland tells me “we have rallied with our Portuguese manufacturing team and, no matter what happens, we’ll always work with them”.

With the depreciation of the pound causing economic implications, the referendum result “has made our stock orders more costly and this does have an effect on our business model, as we make our clothing expensively to a very high standard and then sell it at a value price point direct to our customers”.

There is of course further concern over the ambiguous state of the future British economy and trade agreements: “As renegotiation of our trade terms with Europe begins, we’re wary of increased regulation, tariffs and duty”.

Cridland sees the success of Tom Cridland to have been made possible by the support of his parents, brother, and his girlfriend and business partner, Debs.

As the business prepares for the challenges ahead, he is fortunate to have a lot of support from loved ones to help the Tom Cridland brand continue to thrive.“Family has always been greatly important to me but is now more so than ever”, he said. “Both of my parents have only ever been incredibly kind and supportive”.

The changes that Brexit will bring may not necessarily be favourable to Cridland’s business, but he does consider there to be potentially positive outcomes from the result. He hopes to see “a renaissance in British manufacturing and see us less reliant on our financial services.”

Cridland’s positive attitude despite the initial disappointment sets an important example to business leaders in Britain.

“Though we voted to leave, there is no point in negativity,” Cridland reflected. “We’re going to be pushing on to grow Tom Cridland into the world’s number one sustainable fashion brand”.

To find out more about Tom Cridland you can visit their website here.

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