Ray Kelvin, founder of British fashion empire, Ted Baker, tied in knots
When I first met the charismatic founder of Ted Baker, Ray Kelvin, I was struck at how humble and modest a man he is. Not one to show his face to the camera lens, he’s more interested in what goes on behind the magnetic glow of the catwalk. No surprise then that he’s managed to create a £531 million business, since its foundation in 1988. His passion for textiles and fashion all started at the age of 11 working in his dad’s menswear shop in Enfield.
My relationship with Ray started in October 2014 when I wrote to him explaining that because of him, I had started The Original Laces Company and the manufacturing of bespoke and made-to-measure laces. There is a copy of this letter shown here. I received the first order from Ted Baker in November and I’ve been supplying their stores globally ever since.
After supplying Ted Baker for a while, I was invited to meet Ray for the first time. When we met, he strolled up to me casually and gave me a huge bear hug. Not the sort of behaviour you would expect from the CEO of one of Britain’s most successful fashion businesses. Apart from being somewhat taken aback, I quickly realised why this inspirational man had been a such success. He oozes energy, creativity and drive.
Whist chatting to him, due to habit, I looked at has shoewear - camel desert boots - and was a little surprised to see his laces in a right mess. “Oh dear Ray” I said with some mock “your laces - what on earth happened here?”. After showing him the often unknown, but correct way to tie laces, I was ushered in to a meeting, which only happened to be the board of directors! Ray grinning suggested that they all didn’t know how to tie their laces and I was to perform an emergency demonstration. This certainly wasn’t how I envisaged my meeting going!
A couple of weeks later, I returned to ‘The Ugly Brown Building’ home of Ted Baker’s 3,000+ staff. Ray was not about that day, but I was informed that his new party trick and intro to gatherings was him now enthusiastically explaining to everyone that most people can’t actually tie their shoelaces properly - followed by a well-practiced demonstration!