We're currently at home in the midst of the fourth lockdown in Northern Ireland. It’s been tough, but we stay positive by trying to keep the business moving forward and occupying ourselves with projects and challenges that keep us interested and, above all, sane!
How have you coped during lockdown? Any tips?
Well, I think you must not treat it as a holiday; you need routine and schedules. Personally I try to approach every day with a list of things that I need to, or must, do – that includes getting dressed for work (which I enjoy) and setting challenges that must be completed. We pontificate of course and get distracted. I’ll focus on creative outlets and Leisa will invariably want me to concentrate on accounts or tax affairs which I struggle with, so it’s discipline more than anything...
How do you find working together?
Leisa and I have worked together all our working lives, over 35 years, and it’s been incredible. I think from the off we knew our brand would only work if it had the best of both of us. I was always incredibly driven and curious, and Leisa is an absolute grafter and grounded, but we both love challenges aren’t frightened of a risk or limited by geographic location or area. We’ve opened in salons in unlikely locations and taken risks in design to various levels of failure and success, but together we've overcome the hurdles and usually we are better for it. We are also good sounding boards for each other; I live in a fantasy world where I believe that most people are good and have the best intentions, while Leisa is a realist. She isn’t more cynical, exactly, just more cautious. She's the spine and backbone of our life and business. People consider her honest, forthright and true to herself, which is exactly as she is, but we're both incredibly private in real life and I see our social media as a diary of what we want props to see, not the totality of our life.
I suppose to define our style we have to go back to the 80s when most of our clothes were bought in secondhand shops and markets. We’ve never really lost that excitement of finding something great hidden under a pile of rags. Of course back then it was all about tribes and youth culture and we both had dalliances with the mod, new romantic and goth/indie scenes, so that had a huge influence on our personal styles over the years. But it’s developed – for me personally it’s tailoring and vintage pieces, though I refuse to pay silly money for stuff just because it’s old. I think we both believe that style is more important than fashion but it should be fun. There's a confidence required to wearing a certain hat, for example, or a colour, and I think I’m more fearless in that respect. Leisa is more low-key and prefers a more subtle approach, but she can be quite unpredictable and throws things together at random that always seem to work somehow. Ultimately we compliment each other and advise each other on what we think works, without ever trying to dictate. Style is a mindset – it’s really none of our business what other people think about how we dress! If we do that, then it’s lost its authenticity. Clothes are a joy and it may be trivial and frivolous to some, but we are in an industry that celebrates and encourages individual expression, so we live our lives through clothes that way.
What Dawson Denim item do you own and how do you style it?
I’ve been an admirer of Dawson for some time and I have to admit to always feeling a bit nervous of ordering denim online. But being a follower of the Dawson Instagram page, I realised that this could be done successfully with you guys after reading customer testaments – I knew quite a few of these people personally and how discerning they are. So, I got in touch and ordered a pair of the Wide Leg Hank jeans. I really wanted that 1930s/40s vibe and the advice on length, fit and sizing was second to none. When they arrived they were perfect. I have literally not worn another pair of jeans since. I match them up with a letterman and loafers or corespondent shoes and a shirt and tie. I love the huge turn-ups (not everyone’s cup of tea ) and the denim is really comfortable to wear. Mrs S is eyeing up a pair, but mine fit her perfectly so she’s been borrowing mine occasionally...
What are you listening to?
Oh wow, where to start? I’ve just watched David Byrne's American Utopia and Poly Styrene. I am a cliche so I’ve been listening to a lot of Talking Heads and X-Ray Spex, also Nick Caves' Idiot Prayer has been a constant since late last year. I run every day and I've been listening to David Holmes' radio show mixes, especially his beautiful Andrew Weatherall tribute show which is an absolute joy and a great tribute to a great maverick. And finally, an Instagram friend sent me a copy of Chewing the Fat by Blue Rondo à la Turk, which I had back in the 80s. Now there is a band with style! I play it when I’m cooking and occasionally embarrass my daughters by dancing along...