Riddle me This… Oliver Goffe
Up close and personal with Oliver Goffe, the co- founder of the Marloe Watch Company
If you knew then what you know now……….would you still do it?
Of course. In any start-up there are ups and downs, lots of hard work, disagreements, celebrations, but ultimately all that effort is to create something you feel strongly and passionately about. It’s easy to look back and think we may have done things a little differently, but the learnings from our experiences are vital to pushing the Marloe brand forward. In all honesty, I don’t think we’d change a thing – our experiences have moulded us and Marloe to who we are today.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
When we launched our first watch we had great feedback, customers really engaged with the style and design, but we also had a couple of really nasty folk commenting about us on social media. Initially I took this very personally and it really unsettled me, but a friend reassured me that’s what good design does – it divides opinion – you don’t want to create something no one cares about – you need to have the haters to have those who love the product. We now live by this ethos to a certain extent, we don’t design anything that is too run-of-the-mill, too safe, we’re always striving to achieve individual style.
What’s the weirdest rumour you’ve ever heard about yourself?
I’m not sure I’m famous enough to be graced with rumours, thankfully. Although once there was word of me appearing in an advert on YouTube, but I don’t think anyone ever found the evidence!
What was your biggest break?
Without a shadow of doubt it was finding Gordon – we didn’t know one another before we launched Marloe. It was during my very initial research that I happened upon a chap on a watch forum – he was commenting on a few threads and really knew his stuff not only on watches but also design. I ended up stalking him across the internet and reading his blog – before finally emailing him with my concept for a new watch brand and asking him if he wanted to come on-board, with no pay! If he hadn’t had said yes, I genuinely believe Marloe would never have happened.
Do you consider yourself lucky?
Absolutely. Mainly to have found Gordon and for us to have clicked so well right from the off, but also to have such committed customers. Gordon and I can only do so much, it’s our customers who make Marloe a success, and we have some of the best out there – you can draw great motivation from your customers and their kind words, and we often do. I do also believe that you make your own luck to a certain extent, mainly through hard work and commitment, and there’s been plenty of times where that hard work has paid off and given us a little boost.
What’s most important in your life?
My family, health and happiness, in that order. Those have always been the most important things in my life, and spending three years living in Stockholm, Sweden cemented that. Having a balanced work/life lifestyle is very important in Scandinavia and I learnt a lot from their slow-living culture and embracing life – I’d recommend it to anyone. That’s not to say that Marloe isn’t important, it’s a huge aspect of my life and I feel very passionately about it but having the right balance of priorities is key to a good life.
What brands do you admire?
I admire brands that do things differently, challenge themselves, enter challenging markets, feel passionately about what they do. I play a bit of golf and recently I learnt of a brand called Vice – they make golf balls. The golf ball market is incredibly competitive and a couple of global brands own the entire industry, so it’s pretty bold for a small start-up in Germany to take on the big boys. But that’s exactly what they’ve done, and they’re beginning to make waves.
Another brand I love is Patagonia. I’ve always loved their clothing and what they stand for. I recently listened to an interview with the founder, Yvon Chouinard, and it was fascinating – although he had been making climbing equipment for a decade or so, it was a trip to Scotland in 1970 that inspired him to start Patagonia, starting with reselling some rugby shirts he picked up! They’ve been at the forefront of environmental activism for many years and in the early 1980s Chouinard committed the company to being an outstanding place to work – I just think they’ve got things right.
And I couldn’t possibly leave out Sandqvist – a Swedish brand created in Stockholm in 2004. Their designs are uncomplicated, functional and beautiful, with clear Swedish heritage. The company also operates with sustainability in mind, from sourcing 100 per cent organic cotton directly from farmers to using recycled fibres from waste products, they’re very impressive. Plus, my wife bought me one of their backpacks in 2013 and I’ve used it nearly every day since – and yet it still looks as good as new. It’s probably one of the best products I’ve ever owned.
Do you have a guilty pleasure – if so what is it?
I do, and it embarrasses me to say as it makes me sound like a teenager, but I play Fantasy Premier League. If you’re not familiar it’s basically where you pick 11 footballers who are playing in the Premier League and you get points for how well they perform. I was introduced to it by a friend a few years ago and since then it’s been a ferocious competition ever since. I’m not really into football but I am into statistics and numbers, which ultimately, it’s all about. It gives me something to do on a Friday night anyway!
Describe your personal sense of style.
Informal. It’s broad but it’s accurate. Before I moved to Stockholm I had a dozen suits and wore a tie most days, now I have one suit and haven’t worn it for years. The style in Sweden is very casual, even in an office environment – chinos and a shirt, and that really rubbed off on me. I’m also quite sporty so if I’ve cycled or run to the office then I’ll tend to wear something outdoorsy and made for the job. One thing I’ve learnt over the years is to spend more money on fewer, well designed, well-made items – generally they’ll make you look better and more importantly function better. I think a Swedish expression inspired this change – there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.