Riddle me This… Timothy Oulton
Up close and personal with the founder of furniture brand Timothy Oulton
If you knew then what you know now… would you still do it?
Absolutely, I’ve loved every step of the way. I’m not afraid to take risks, of course there have been challenges but that’s not what I dwell on. We call it ‘next’, you dust yourself down and ask what’s next? I’m always moving forward.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I was raised in a Benedictine monastery and I loved the Benedictine philosophy, they taught me about community and contributing. It didn’t matter what you did, as long as you did it to the best of your ability. And that always stuck in my mind.
What was your biggest break?
I’d been working with my dad in his antiques business since I’d left school, and I got to about 23 or 24 and I said to him there’s something missing, it doesn’t seem right to me, I need to do something that’s more permanent and scaleable. So my dad was very good, he gave me the business and I later started focusing on design. That was the stepping stone to everything else I’ve achieved, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.
What’s the weirdest rumour you’ve ever heard about yourself?
If there are any rumours I haven’t heard them! I think people who know me would agree I’m very much a straight talker, so in that sense I’m a bit of an open book – what you see is what you get.
Do you consider yourself lucky?
I feel incredibly lucky that my passion – or obsession – has turned into my career. I’ve had more than my fair share of luck over the years and I’ve ridden it well, but ultimately I’m where I am because of sheer commitment. I think if you commit to something fully, the elves come out and the magic happens.
What’s most important in your life?
Being able to create every day- it’s in my blood, it’s what gets me up in the morning. Also, having good people around me- I mean genuine, authentic relationships. In the furniture industry, we have a reputation for being honest, there are very few people who won’t give us pretty high marks for integrity and that’s massively important for us. Trust is the foundation of our company, it’s all about partnership.
What brands do you admire?
I always watch Axel Vervoordt- originally an antique dealer who has guided his company to become a global entity in antiques, design and art. The mega wealthy and design-elite love him for his ability to mix styles and periods in an unexpected way. And Ralph Lauren, he manages to blend luxury with simplicity in a way that is extremely unique.
Do you have a guilty pleasure – if so what is it?
I couldn’t live without red wine. Smoking is another vice, I actually have a large collection of antique Dunhill lighters that are very special. Only around 4000 of these lighters were ever made, all by one craftsman – Ben Shillingford. He decided to make each one unique, so they’re very rare.
Describe your personal sense of style.
It’s very casual and relaxed because that’s how I am, I’m always in a pair of jeans. Style should be a personal reflection of who you are, rather than following trends which are very temporary.