This month we invited business woman and long-term Wrap customer, Louisa Clarke to our studio in Fulham to show her the Spring Summer collection and find out about the work she does for The Caffeine Partnership, including workshops and top pitching tips for businesses looking to win new business.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and The Caffeine Partnership?
I'm a 40-something mother of two teenage boys (19 & 15) & live with them, my husband and our Jack Russell dog, Topper, in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.
I'm a Partner at The Caffeine Partnership - a strategic consultancy that helps clients to accelerate business growth. We do this in three ways: 1. Helping leaders define their brand strategy, aligning the business behind it and engaging their people with it; 2. Transforming people's ability to target, win and retain business and; 3. Energising people to deliver their purpose through personal impact, team building and executive coaching. We're also often brought in to help leadership teams overcome barriers and blockers
through expert facilitation.
Where does your passion for business come from and how did you get to where you
When I was younger, I rowed competitively (and still row - but less competitively - today) and since then have been fascinated with team dynamics. Businesses are made up of teams - from the CEO & their leadership team to the front-line staff. How those teams work together to deliver the strategy or win business, how they create the company culture and how they deliver the brand promise to their customers - that's the side of business that most interests me.
I've been at The Caffeine Partnership for seven years. Previously, I spent 16 years working for two global communications agencies with a roster of household name clients. I was a board director with responsibility for leading and developing my team, winning new clients and growing our existing ones. I joined Caffeine as it was an exciting opportunity to move away from purely working in communications and work directly with experienced, energetic, brilliant people who help 'impatient leaders' to deliver their vision and grow their business.
As an experienced facilitator often working with businesses looking to improve their ability to win new business, what advice would you give to a company wanting to be better at pitching?
Put the effort in the right places. Too many pitches are lost because time is wasted (briefs sit in people's inboxes for days), teams don't meet regularly because they're 'too busy' and 80% of the time is spent coming up with a solution to the problem which leaves minimal time to research the idea, write the presentation, rehearse it (rarely happens), write the document and produce any materials that may be needed to bring it to life. Then, on the way to the client's offices, the 'team' (sometimes they are meeting each other for the first time that morning), agree who is going to say what and make last-minute changes on the journey. This is how 90% of pitches are done and why 90% of prospect clients will call to say, "I'm afraid that this time you came a very close second." Which is client speak for 'You lost.' If you're going to
pitch, commit to it 100% and put some craft in to your pitch - we can help you!
What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?
We do a lot of work with senior people who want to be equipped with the skills to make a positive impact, to influence and to inspire others. This links to how they communicate and when we work with them over the course of a day or two it's very rewarding to see the progress they make and even more gratifying when they tell us of the positive difference this has made to how they work with others or the effect they have had on others.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
I'm either out with clients: delivering a workshop (we have a number of programmes including, 'Pitchcraft' - a two-day workshop that develops people's strategy & skills to win more clients and 'Fast Forward' which helps increase people's impact & influence as well as 'Superteams' which brings a team together to take action on the issues they know are important but get stuck on) or I am meeting clients or prospects to discuss or sell new projects and programmes. Sometimes I work from home to prepare for workshops or write proposals. We also have a monthly page in BA Business Life magazine so I may be writing an article for that too. If I can, I go to the rowing club in the evening for circuits or ergo (rowing machine) training. In the summer, I run after work to clear my head.
How do you make your clothes work for you and your busy lifestyle?
I have a limited wardrobe (both in space and in content), which makes decisions about what to wear much quicker. I'd rather have quality than quantity. I'm a long time Wrap customer - the quality and style is excellent so I buy a few pieces every season and know that they will last me for years.
Who/what inspires your everyday style?
Mrs Robinson from The Graduate: leopard print coats, black dresses, cocktail rings, heels, metallics, faux fur...yes, that covers it.
What are your go-to wardrobe staples?
See above. Plus jeans - everyone needs a day off.
If I wasn't working for Caffeine... I'd be a spy.
My ideal breakfast is... a vat of coffee, a fancy hotel's 'Continental' range and the Saturday papers.
A holiday destination I love... Andalusia, Spain.
My favourite London hangout is... a great cocktail bar with an amazing view...Dandelyan at Sea Containers has both.
My day isn't complete until I've... written my diary. I've kept one since I was 14. Recently I re-read them to see if there was a potential international bestseller in their pages. There wasn't.
|Rochana Blouse >
|Juliette Jeans >
|Ailsa Sweater >
|Bella Top >
|Anouk Necklace >
|Leonie Necklace >
|Skyler Bangle >