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Interview With Cookham-Based Founder Of Scamp & Dude

A life-changing experience inspired Jo Tutchener-Sharp to launch Scamp & Dude. Here she talks about her desire to give back, evolving the brand and why 2022 looks exciting

Before Scamp & Dude, where had your career taken you?

I started my career working in PR, representing brands like Estee Lauder, Tom Ford Beauty and Dolce & Gabbana Parfums before setting up my own PR agency when I was 30. I went on to run my PR agency for eight years where we represented NARS, Topshop Beauty, Christian Louboutin Beaute and many more high profile beauty brands. When I started a family, I knew the PR life wasn’t sustainable anymore if I wanted to get to spend time with my children, so after I’d had my second child I decided to sell my shares in my agency.

What can you tell us about the life saving brain surgery you had and how did it change your outlook on life?

It was after the sale of my agency that I suffered a brain haemorrhage. Exiting yourself from your own business is extremely difficult and I was under a huge amount of stress, not to mention having a newborn and a toddler at home too. I found myself in hospital with an acute headache to discover I’d suffered a brain haemorrhage and a lump on my brain. My life changed forever at this moment. Facing death had a huge effect on me personally, as well as being terrified of leaving my boys (who were then just one and three) without a mummy, I couldn’t shake this feeling that I hadn’t done enough good in my life. I’d had a great time working in PR, living it up in London, but what difference had I made and how many people had I helped along the way? I didn’t realise this was so important to me until it was almost too late.

Jo Tutchener Sharp
Jo Tutchener-Sharp

Why did that experience inspire you to launch Scamp & Dude in 2016?

When I came out of theatre and realised I’d been given a second chance at life, the need to help people and to make a difference was so strong that I made myself a pact that my next business would be one full of purpose and something that truly helped people.

The first product I designed in the Scamp & Dude collection was something that came to me in my hospital bed when I was missing my kids (I couldn’t let them see me with half my head shaved and 20 staples down one side of my head). I wished I’d been able to give them a superhero to watch over them while we were apart and imagined a cuddly toy superhero with a pocket on the back to hold a photo so they could have held me close. I used this idea as a get well goal and as soon as I was out of hospital I started looking into manufacturers and designs to create these Superhero Sleep Buddies so I could donate one to a child who loses a parent or is seriously ill themselves for every one sold. I decided I wanted a clothing range to accompany the Superhero Sleep Buddies, so created a superpower infused clothing range for kids to fill them with superpowers when they were apart from their loved ones. Each garment has a Superpower Button so kids can press it for a burst of superpowers when they need it most.

You launched as a childrenswear brand initially – what did you want offer with your designs?

When I launched Scamp & Dude in 2016 on our website and into Liberty in London, we launched as a kids’ brand, with just two adults’ sweatshirts. Our kids’ clothing was unisex and infused with superpowers, but just as kids loved wearing our clothes, so did adults and we couldn’t keep the adults’ sweatshirts in stock. Now five years on we are 80% womenswear having seen our womenswear collection explode over the last five years. We have many new categories for women now too including dresses, bags and knitwear as well as our classic jersey loungewear and we are launching denim jeans too.

How did the company evolve into womenswear?

Our women’s sweatshirts sold out the moment they hit our website, they sold out straight away in Liberty too. We were worn by Robbie Williams, Emma Willis, Emma Bunton and Laura Whitmore, which really helped with awareness and we couldn’t keep them in stock. I then produced lots of other colours/prints in the sweatshirts, joggers and hoodies too. I then decided I wanted to create a collection of dresses as I found myself being invited to speak at events and awards ceremonies where I’d have to wear other brands’ dresses.  These were instant hits and now we have a whole dress collection as well as jackets, bags, knitwear and a denim collection too. Our customers tell us what they want and as we are so close to our community thanks to social media, we know what they want and we listen and make it happen. 

Childreswear
Scamp & Dude launched as a childrenswear brand

I love how bright your clothes are – a key part of the Scamp & Dude philosophy?

Scamp & Dude is all about bringing the joy and for making people smile. Colour is so impactful and can make you smile just looking at beautiful bright colours.

You also do a lot of charitable work. Why is that important to you?

When I thought my life was over, other than worrying about leaving my children without a mum, the other thing that bothered me was that I hadn’t done enough good. I knew that if I made it through my surgery, I would make sure my next job would be about helping other people, giving back and making a difference. Scamp & Dude is just that, it is powered by kindness and we‘ve now donated over 3,500 Superhero Sleep Buddies and over 3,000 Super Scarves to people having a really hard time, and we’ve also donated over 300,000 worth of sweatshirts to NHS staff and patients in their care too, which makes me very happy.

What can we expect in the S/S22 collection?

We have just launched some stunning metallic totes with neon lining, which have gone down a storm, plus a collection of maxi dresses with pockets. For summer we have new dress shapes, kaftans, skirts, blouses and accessories in a range of new vibrant prints and colour clashes, it’s a really beautiful collection that I can’t wait to share. We are also launching Lucky Pants, which are underwear sets where for every pack sold, a pair is donated to someone in hospital who really needs a superhero to have their back.

What else does 2022 hold in store for Scamp & Dude?

We have a really exciting collaboration coming up where we have some big names designing some clothing for us to raise money for some very special charities. We are so excited about this and can’t wait to reveal who we are working with. We have started a Facebook group called Scamp & Duders too, which has been so much fun – we have the best community and are planning a big event later in the year so we can get them all together.

Superhero Slogan
We all need a superhero sometimes…

Where do you and what do you love about the area?

We moved to Cookham Dean in August 2019 just before the pandemic, which was perfect timing. I hadn’t initially wanted to move out of London, but as soon as we arrived I fell in love with the area. It’s a really special place to live and we seem to have managed to move into the most fun and social street in the county! Our neighbours are all so much fun and we have become part of a really lovely community already, which we are really grateful for. I am a lot less stressed since moving to Cookham, the tightness in my chest (that I thought was normal living in London) has gone – it’s good this Cookham air!

Where are your favourite places to head to with your family?

We have so many great pubs and restaurants close by, our favourites are The Mole & Badger at Sanctum on the Green (which has a great Japanese menu in the evenings that is delicious), The White Oak and The Bel & Dragon. I love mooching round Marlow too, there are lots of great independent shops including my favourites Un Dimanche Paris and Sara Hughes. We love taking the boys to play in the maze at Cliveden and to Quarry Woods and Odds Farm always goes down well. Trips down the river in the summer is also a favourite thing to do and we love to spend time in Henley and Windsor, which are close by too.

How do you look back on the last five-plus years since you launched Scamp & Dude?

The past five years have been completely crazy, but completely amazing at the same time. A whirlwind that has been extremely hard work, but so rewarding and utterly mind blowing and no day is ever the same. I am constantly learning, which I love, and I never know what is going to happen next which is just so exciting. I feel so lucky to have been given a second chance at life and to have a job that is so much more than just a job. And I can sleep easy knowing that the next time I find myself at those pearly gates, I will definitely feel like I have done enough good, which makes me happy.

@scampanddude

scampanddude.com

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