Why did you originally want to study at LCF and which course did you study?
I did the Fashion Writing with Public Relations course. I can't remember why, but knew I wanted to work within media. We had this genius woman, who ran the course called Jo Dingemans, who was a bit dotty, but very beautiful. She was quite posh and used to be a model and we loved her madly. I think we spent most of the time in Selfridges smoking whatever we could afford and barely eating and trying to figure out what parties to get into.
What did you do when you first left LCF?
I got a work experience job at Harpers & Queen, as it was known then, in the fashion cupboard. I stayed a year and then took a job in a fashion PR company working on Designers at Debenhams. I seem to remember working at Debenhams Press Office around that time and we used be hysterical in the lifts saying things like 'Knickers Are Coming Down' when there was a sale on. It was good experience though, and I learnt a lot about retail and publishing at that time.
How did you end up starting The Communications Store?
I had met a brilliant lady called Julietta Dexter in at a PR company I was working for and we used to joke that one day we would have our own PR company, where everyone would be happy, would deliver results to clients and would really look after the needs of the press. She started TCS whilst I was working out a contract with the designer Ally Capellino and then I joined her. We had one desk and an assistant, at the time, in a little rented space on Savile Row. We worked very hard and started mostly with beauty clients to make our name - particularly in the alternative beauty sector - the beginning of the organic movement. We are still together to this day and manage to stay very front line, even though the company has grown to more than 60 people.
What's the best thing about working where you work?
I get to bring my dog to work everyday. He's a pain in the ass, but attends meetings with the clients, who love him. I love all our staff very much and am very grateful that they come to the office and bring good humour and hard work to their roles. We have a very strong career path for each member of staff - you can come as a junior and if you are good, you can make account director in just a few years. We have appraisal sessions with each staff member every six months, which is key to running a happy ship. For Julietta and I, it is very important that we have a good family spirit in the office - we are always available to speak to and there is very little politics and nearly no hysteria at all. We work incredibly hard for all the brands we represent and a key word here is 'humility'. We have high points of glamour, which we love but essentially we are very serious about the science of what we do. We are nuts about our brands and feel honoured to work with our big global brands as well as the small start ups. In the current climate the clients rely on us more than ever.
What advice would you haven given the 'young' Tom all those years ago at LCF? Knowing what you know now?
That's a tough one - I've learnt a huge amount and my motto has always been to work hard, but more importantly to have a life. I hate seeing the staff here after 6pm- sometimes we have to stay later, but I much prefer to see them out and about enjoying themselves in the evenings and on weekends.
Any other industry tips for our current and future students?
My tip would be to make the most of a work experience job, it could very easily turn into a career. Make yourself quietly indispensable within the office environment. Don't make a drama out of it, don't arrive late, always be positive and ensure that nothing you are asked to do appears to be too much. A moaner will never get a job.
If you had to describe London to an alien in five words - what would they be?
BLOODY AWESOME YOU WEIRD ALIEN!
And lastly - can you tell us what your biggest fashion 'mistake' was?
Oh dear - it was whilst I was at LCF and we had to make a video to a song. We chose VOGUE by Madonna - which in itself was bad enough - and we were filming on the tube and I was supposed to be this fashion character from a magazine so was all dollied up with make-up and a hideous jacket with red leather tassels on it and shoulder pads- just beyond hideous. At one point the camera crew were outside and filming me getting on the tube and then the doors closed and I was stuck in the carriage with everyone looking at me and on my own and the train pulled off and I felt like the biggest arse ever.
There have been many mistakes since then - all of them horrid - as a consequence I stick to white shirts by Thom Browne and navy cashmere by whoever - and a tailored pant - very preppy now, so not much room for mistakes.
Good luck to all your fashion students - our industry is the greatest in the world and you are lucky to be part of it.