Classic t-shirts made with quality fabrics, in ethical factories and costing a fair price…sounds simple doesn’t it? In reality, it’s a bit more work than that but Leo and Fiona, who run clothing brand The Cotton Story, are doing it.
Where do you live in London and what do you like about the area?
Leo: Battersea. Being close to Clapham Junction station is brilliant for transport connections and having parks surrounding the area allows you to feel like you’re a long way away from it all. Great selection of local pubs and many friends live close by.
Fiona: At the moment I live in Battersea, weirdly right opposite Leo by complete chance (we didn’t find this out until after knowing each other for a few months) with my boyfriend Ryan and my dog Nugget. I love that SW London gives you a chance to feel like you’re not always in a huge city. We have gorgeous parks nearby for dog walking like Wandsworth Common which is a stone’s throw from our flat, and loads of great local restaurants and bars on our street but the minute we need want to head into the hustle and bustle of the city, we can jump on a train and be there in no time. It’s the best of both worlds.
What led you to create The Cotton Story?
Leo: It honestly came from failing before. I had a premium swimwear brand I’d created (for men) which was positioned to work with wholesalers and therefore had a price tag to match (£90 for a pair of swim shorts). Whilst the shorts were lovely and up against the competition seem reasonable in price, I didn’t enjoy the fact that most of my friends needed discounts to buy in. It just didn’t sit right with me. It was this frustration and a lack of control with the wholesale business model that lead me to look elsewhere. The Cotton Story is my take 2. An honest, timeless company that everyone can hopefully enjoy. A big upside that my mates no longer only call me for discounts.
Fiona: When Leo told me about his ideas for The Cotton Story I immediately fell in love with it. The idea of creating something so simple and yet so fair and honest was really inspiring and I jumped at the chance of getting involved. For me, it was really important to establish the voice of the company – how we wanted our customers to feel when they interact with us and making sure we had a core set of ideas and values that we can keep referring back to when things inevitably get a bit fuzzy. With only two of us, it’s easy to get overwhelmed at times, so having a core message really helps us find our way again when we start questioning ourselves and helps us remember why we’re doing what we’re doing – creating beautifully simple pieces that stand the test of time with a feeling of honesty permeating through everything we do
How has being a part of the WeWork community impacted the growth of the brand?
Fiona: To be honest, without WeWork we would never have met so I’d say it’s had a huge impact. The community we have surrounding us in WeWork has been invaluable in the growth of the company. The support we’ve received not only from my old colleagues, but the other members in the buildings has been so incredible and has allowed us to spread brand awareness so much further than we would have been able to without the network being there. Not only have we been able to pop-up in various buildings, but we actually pulled off a WeWork UK first – we organised a total London takeover day and had every staff member wearing our tees and promoting our brand – what better community could we ask for?
You’ve got t-shirts down, so what’s next for The Cotton Story?
Fiona: The possibilities for The Cotton Story are endless. We want to create clothing that people don’t even have to think about – it’s so simple and timeless, they know whatever pieces they pick they’ll be creating a beautifully simple outfit – so eventually I see us doing it all. But we’re not in a rush. Carefully creating staple items is our focus for now. For us, it’s not about having the most styles, it’s about having the best style. We don’t need a wardrobe filled with 20 different styles of tee, so what we want to do is hone and perfect the essential pieces with the help of our customers using their feedback in order to create the best possible products.
Describe your perfect day in London.
Leo: My perfect day would start with a session in the gym to wake me up followed by a breakfast over at White City House. Then with a few friends and their kids, I’d take my son to Twickenham to watch some rugby before heading back to my local on St John’s Hill, The Beehive, for a few pints of San Miguel to end the night.
Fiona: I think I’d probably head to a relaxed brunch with the girls at the Riding House Cafe before taking Nugs on a walk in the afternoon through Richmond. Then I’d get dressed up, head towards Victoria for dinner at Sticks n Sushi for their amazing Hotaru cocktails and Hell’s Kitchen Rolls (they are on my death row meal list for sure!) and go see a musical in the evening, either Hamilton, Les Miserables or The Book of Mormon.