MEET GILES & SARAH
The couple that have redefined office romance for us.
Sitting next to chic neon light that reads “And so it begins ...” they tell us how they have Topshop to thank for their meeting, share insights into the future of fashion brands, walk us through their renovations and in general have us coveting their every move!
Five years on, toddler in tow, now working for competing brands, tell us where it all began…
Giles: We met at work.
Sarah: We were both at Topshop!
Giles: Weirdly (I mean just look at her) … it wasn’t love at first sight … there was no instant attraction… especially from Sarah – she thought I was goofy! It took us a while to understand each other and realise we had quite a few things in common.
I still remember thinking, ‘whoa, what is this’ … my attraction for her slowly crept up on me …
Sarah: Work trips to the US gave us a chance to spend time together. We would go out for drinks and spend the night dancing …
Giles: And there you have it …
So was it your romance that saw you move from TopShop Giles?
Giles: No, I loved working with Sarah. I just wanted a new challenge. I am good at customer experience; I believe it is the future. With online retail business growing rapidly it is so important to create a real customer experience.
How do you think brands do this, with e-commerce being so prevalent?
Giles: I think it is finding the right mix. I believe that customers will always need that personal connection. They want their needs to be understood and meet. I think its pairing good brand messaging with tangible experiences.
So for example – I like your “Jump into bed with us” thing, but I also like I can go and feel the product and see the quality in Selfridges.
Not only do you guys work in the same industry, but head up the personal shopping experience of the two biggest high street fashion brands … Topshop vs. RiverIsland – who wins the debate?
Sarah: No we don’t fight over whose best!! We are so lucky to both work for incredible brands. We get our own space and time to do things. Our work allows us to travel and visit incredible places and meet wonderful, inspiring people, which is a passion we both have. Giles is such a good people person.
It sounds like the dream jobs … how did you both end up in these roles?
Giles (very proudly): Sarah was a model from ages 17 to 25 and worked with amazing photographers like Jürgen Teller and Rankin. She featured in Italian Vogue, Elle and the like. I was in a band for 10 years and worked with The Who – I toured America with them a couple of times.
And now, when your not taking on the fashion world …
Sarah: We totally have the 'build bug’ now. We have just completed our renovations to make the space something unique and personal to us.
Giles: Ha - it wasn’t always ‘beautiful’. We moved to Harlesden from Shepherds Bush in Jan 2016. We always knew we were going to get work done on the property to add value but originally it was going to be the usual loft conversion. Planning permission for the loft, at the size we wanted, was refused so Sarah and I tried to work out a compromise and came up with a mezzanine, which we have always wanted anyway.
Sarah: It felt perfect, as one of the first places we travelled together was New York, with our love of it's architecture and all the expansive apartments. It’s actually worked out better than the loft because it is so bright and open and great for entertaining.
You would never guess it was here from the outside.
Sarah: Much of the apartments true beauty lies behind its very ’normal' outer skin. From the outside you would never know!
Giles: No you wouldn’t... yet when you come in it is striking because the space has been divided making maximum use of transparent glass. We did this to create a feeling of openness and light, to allow the interior areas to connect and ‘borrow’ space from one another.
Sarah: We thought the place would feel cramped if it was fully enclosed, but opening it to the living area below makes it seem much larger. The same goes for the kitchen having it up high means we can look down below when cooking.
Giles: And keep a watchful eye on Marlowe!!!
Sarah: Yes! There is that.
Why here in this part of London?
Sarah: We chose the NW10 area as it is close to the M1 so I can escape back to my northern roots in Matlock, Derbyshire. Also, we have many friends that live here now and the community is growing.
Giles: Sundays are so great round here. Perfect for easing you into a new week; new shops, cafes opening all the time. Although, once you have left us today, we will probably all just get back into bed! All three of us!