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How I got there: Hannah Rigby on the beauty of a heritage brand

Three hundred and forty years of brand heritage inspires Lock & Co Hatters’ marketing and PR manager.

Hannah Rigby of Lock Hatters

Hannah Rigby of Lock Hatters

What does your typical week involve?

My job encompasses everything from managing our ecommerce site, overseeing visual merchandising and windows to coordinating the seasonal campaign photography and working with style influencers on product collaborations such as hatmaker La Touche aka Mr Hat. I also host TV and vlog crews in-store for programmes such as Churchill & I by the Discovery Channel, which visited all Churchill’s old haunts. Lock & Co was chosen because we sold him so many hats. I also helped the Financial Times with a short video on the conformateur (head-measuring) experience for a piece it was shooting on Regency England.

It’s a really varied role and I’m lucky that I get to work really closely with the senior management team to make projects come to life. The role also involves keeping the Lock family (who still own the business) abreast of what’s happening.

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time on the redesign of our website, which went live in August. I spent a lot of time with our web agency checking everything is on schedule. We redesigned the site from scratch, which is fantastic because it means we’re able to showcase our products in a whole new light by providing much more written and visual information, as well as deliver cutting-edge functions other hatters can’t offer, such as the technology to monogram our customers’ initials on the inside of the hat headband.

I’ve also been working on the photoshoot planning for the forthcoming autumn 15 collections and collaborating closely with our creative director Ruth Ravenscroft. I organise and coordinate the shoots, which involves everything from choosing models and stylists to product selection and art direction.

I’ve also been really busy overseeing the renovation of an old office space at the back of the shop, which we transformed into our Heritage Room, in response to overwhelming customer demand to see our archive. The Heritage Room, which opened in early August, gives us space to display items that have never been on public display, such as the very first order for the bowler hat. It’s been amazing sifting through our 339-year-old archive to uncover some remarkable artefacts. Just last week I was organising the reframing of our two royal warrants for the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh.

What is the best thing about your job?
The main one is being incredibly proud to work for Lock & Co. It’s such a prestigious and luxury brand and this makes it an honour to work for it. Because we are a small brand it means I get involved with lots of amazing projects and see every side of the business. It’s fantastic to be so hands on and having so much variation within my role means there is never a dull day. 

Do you get to travel a lot in your role?
I travel to Pitti Uomo twice a year to represent the brand along with our two-person wholesale team. Now our new site is live we have a great platform upon which to share engaging content via our new blog for our customers, and so we have some exciting trips lined up that will see us generate unique stories such as the making of a Lock hat and the intricate craftsmanship of our ribbons.

What do you think are the advantages of working for a niche, heritage brand rather than a high street multiple?
I worked for a high street womenswear brand for seven years and was lucky enough to work within a number of roles that gave me a great understanding of retail. However, when you work for a big brand you usually do this within the confines of a very structured role. Working for a smaller brand sees these confines evaporate and instead I now work in a much more varied position.

Lock & Co Hatters is a 10th-generation family owned business and there’s a real sense of privilege to be working for direct descendants of James Lock. We’re seeing lots of exciting changes at the moment, but we’re consistently referring back to our brand DNA. 

How are you being affected by the rise in digital marketing?
We have a very varied customer base at Lock Hatters and while we see digital marketing being the future, we need to recognise that lots of clients still like to be communicated with via our seasonal brochures and letters. So for us it’s all about striking a balance and making sure we don’t alienate anyone. We’re focusing our energies on growing our social media following on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, particularly to our new emerging international audience in the Far East who seem to be living and breathing hats.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learnt?
To get to know your customer. I’ve been at Lock Hatters for nine months now and have spent my time observing how our customers shop both in-store and online to best understand their purchasing behaviours and attitudes towards our product. We get weird and wonderful characters in the shop who love our old-school and quirky approach to hatting and I want to feel confident that we’re delivering an exceptional service to them via our new website.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Don’t be afraid to try lots of different roles as this is often the best way of ascertaining what is best for you. I fell into retail and have worked within a number of departments over the past eight years, from retail operations to visual merchandising and marketing, but it’s meant that I now know where my strengths lie. Having a good working knowledge of a business is a serious plus and means you can generate, develop and execute ideas much more easily. 

Who in the fashion industry do you aspire to emulate?
She’s not strictly in the fashion industry but Miriam González Durántez. She is the figurehead of the Inspiring Women campaign, which seeks to open the eyes of school girls to what professions lie within fashion. I recently heard Miriam speak at a royal warrant holders networking event and her enthusiasm and passion for the cause were infectious. As was her ability to wake up at 5am, be a mother to three young boys, have a full-time job and be a wife to the then-deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.

If you didn’t work in fashion, what other industry would you want to work in?
A freelance modern calligrapher. I do this on the side and the dream is to have my own studio to work on freelance projects. 

How do you see your career progressing?
I definitely see myself staying at Lock & Co. The brand turns 340 in 2016 and there are some amazing celebrations lined up, for which I want to play a part. I can’t give too much away but they’ll be product collaborations and revivals from our archive. After this I can’t say at this stage, although I do know that I want to remain working for a luxury heritage brand. 

CV

2014       Marketing and PR manager, Lock Hatters

2012       Events and social content manager, Hobbs

2010       Events and marketing coordinator, Hobbs

2009       Communications coordinator, Hobbs

2007       Executive assistant to operations director, Hobbs

2006       BA (Hons) Geography, Durham University

 

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