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Brix Smith-Start

Co-owner of indie Start, TV presenter, ex-member of The Fall and animal lover – ian wright isn’t short of conversation starters.

How did life as a musician with The Fall prepare you for a life of fashion?

I suppose it was the perfect preparation – you have to create for a crowd and win them over, understand their desires but give them more than their desires, to the point it inspires them. I learned about money and finance and how to make money, move money, keep money. I had a complete grounding in absolutely everything – it was a baptism of fire.

What was the hardest part of building the business?

The business is set up out of complete love and passion for what we believe in so seems very easy because you wake up with the pleasure in your heart. But the hardest part was the day-to-day grafting of working in the shop and doing the buying at the same time. We literally stopped having any kind of social life.

Start is your baby and your vision. How tough is it to let go as the business expands?

I’d say Philip has not let go and is involved in every nook and cranny, and of course Mr Start. This is his life’s purpose. For me it’s been a little bit easier to let go in terms of conjoining it with my TV career – it’s easy to step away physically from the shops more to do the other thing I love. However, when I’m not filming I’m in the shops.

How did you make that jump into TV?

Before I was in The Fall I’d been acting and doing small TV film roles since I was a child, so I’ve been doing it all my life. People started to interview me all the time about my jeans fitting [service] and it started to get put on tape, and producers would say “she’s really good on camera”, not realising I’d been doing it forever! Then I got UK’s Top Dog, a series for Animal Planet like X Factor for dogs, and then Gok’s Fashion Fix happened. The next one is called Ultimate Shopper, a show about finding the best shopper who has great personal style. Think Masterchef crossed with Project Catwalk with a little Supermarket Sweep.

What’s the one thing you wish you knew when setting up Start?

I feel it’s so important to make mistakes to be successful. Mistakes are part of it, so I don’t regret anything. I learned from everything and my favourite thing is turning a negative into a positive.

How has your buying strategy changed in the recession?

We’re not as risky as we were and we’re a little more science led than completely free. There was a point where I bought with my gut, nothing else. Now we’re much more organised and grown-up and we’ve become very, very vigilant. Every item has to be value for money and fabulous in its own right.

If you could wear one brand for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Alaïa has everything. You can work it so many ways.

If you weren’t in fashion, what would you be doing?

An animal behavioural psychologist. I feel animals understand much more than humans do on so many levels.

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