Rosie Fortescue, 26, was born into a wealthy British family with a silver spoon firmly in her gob. She went to a prestigious school (the same as Kate Middleton) and obtained a degree in the History of Art from Goldsmiths University of London. Five years ago she joined the cast of the hit reality TV show, Made In Chelsea, and became a household name. She now writes a column for the Evening Standard, runs a fashion blog and is the CEO of her own jewellery company.
This is what I want to do. I’m doing it, doing it all myself.
When I mentioned to friends that I was interviewing Rosie, the retort was usually along the lines “…does she know anything about working for a living?” And, I must admit, this wasn’t too far removed from a few of my own pre-conceptions. But, when I met Rosie at her London flat she was abuzz with domesticity: attending to the washing, cooking soup, opening mail, sending emails, doing very normal everyday stuff. And, as we chatted about her business, it became clear that she’s not just a pretty face with a trust fund. Granted, she has had a leg up in life and fame from the TV show helps, but it takes more than this to launch and grow a successful business. My take-away: Rosie’s “got balls” and her competitors should take note.
I’m at the stage that I legitimately don’t care what people think.
Here, Rosie shares with us her views on Made in Chelsea, the challenges she has faced setting up her jewellery line and how she manages to wear all the different “hats” necessary to run a company, including IT, sales, logistics, design, finance, social media, copywriting and marketing.
How did Made in Chelsea come about?
I was asked with my friend Amber, and we did the pilot for the show. And then it just went from there. I had been asked to do a show two years before and had said ‘no’. Then we got our friends involved and it went from there. We filmed the studio show two days ago. So, that’s it for this series. There have been 11 series over five and a half years. At this stage I don’t know how many I will do but I need a little time off.
It’s not about making money, it’s about doing what you love.
What is the best & worse thing about being on Made in Chelsea?
The best thing is being able to film with some of my best friends. The worst thing is the fact that I’m so busy. My first question when I get to filming is ‘who’s got the wifi password?’, because I’m literally there with my laptop and diary open and I’m like ‘let’s do this’.
Do you have favourite cast members on Made in Chelsea?
Louise was at school with me from when I was 11; I love her and I love Binky.
Do you think you’re portrayed accurately on Made in Chelsea?
At the end of the day, people take it so literally and they tweet you etc, but it’s a reality show. If it wasn’t dramatic you would be bored and you wouldn’t watch it.
What inspired you to launch a jewellery line?
I have just always been obsessed with jewellery. Always, Always. And, I really wanted to do my own thing.
Do what you love and you’ll love what you do.
Given your privileged background, do you find that people are dismissive of your jewellery brand?
Yes, I think some people think that I have been hand fed but I’ve worked hard and [the jewellery business] is my money. I’ve taken criticism since I started the show and I’m at the stage that I legitimately don’t care what people think. This is what I want to do. I’m doing it, doing it all myself. I’m working hard, I’m up until 2am basically every night. I’m busy, I’m tired, I’m trying to have a social life.
What is your creative process?
I have in my head pretty much everything that I want, I get it down on paper, send it to the factory. I draw like a baby so I draw and the factory sends me the cad drawings, then I change them slightly and we finalise them. Then I tell them what metals and stones I’d like to use, and go from there.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typical day completely varies. Yesterday I woke up at 8am tired and hungover, and started working. My new intern came from 9am – 12 noon. Then I went to the Post Office to send all my orders, came back home and worked constantly until 9:30pm on my laptop: I have never fallen asleep so fast in my life!
Each day is different, which is great. And the gym for me is so important because it’s where I can switch off. I take a 45 minute core, abs & arse or a boxing class. What’s so good about the gym is that there is a Post Office next door. If I have breakfast meetings I have my jewellery parcels with me to post straight after. I am constantly googling the nearest post office to where I am. It’s crazy, but I love it. Some people think I am part of this huge organisation or I have someone doing the distribution, but I am physically doing it all myself. I also do all of my own fulfilment. When I came back from California recently, I literally landed, came home (didn’t touch a single thing or unpack), wrapped up orders and ran to the post office, came home, changed, went to an event for my jewellery line at Donna Ida and also filmed before that. But, that’s just what I have to do, no one else is going to do it.
I write my column for Evening Standard Online for Sundays, I’m doing blog posts for the week to come, and taking blog photos. I can never shut off. I don’t have any investors, it’s all me so I can’t delegate tasks. It made sense to do it from home at the start because it is such a personal thing to me. It’s a 24-hour, 7-day a week job. I like being busy.
What’s the most difficult aspect of launching your own business?
The things that happen that you have to damage control. So, not having stock on time, delays: there are quite a few public holidays where my factory is around Christmas. It is hard to know what’s selling and I can’t buy hundreds of pieces. For example, I have sold out of the silver heartbeat white cuff and now I don’t have any for Christmas. They all sold prior to Black Friday and there was no way for me to pre-empt the demand.
What qualities do you think an entrepreneur and business person needs to succeed?
Be organised, be committed and love it. Because if you don’t [love it] you won’t stay up until 2am every night doing it. Whatever you do, just be committed. If you love what you do it’s not going to be a chore.
With people recognising you and stopping you on the street, is it difficult to constantly be “on”?
To be honest, I am so used to it.
How do you have a social life given how hard you work?
The struggle is real. I like my Sundays, at least, to be lunch with friends, with red wine, in a pub, chilling. But then it’s that Sunday fear where you want to stay out but it’s like s*** I have to go home and write my column.
How would you describe your personal style?
It depends how I feel I guess. I love lace and tailoring. But then I love to wear a big knit jumper dress with a belt and biker boots. I dress to my mood in the day. I woke up this morning and I was like, ‘right, I mean business’. I quite like simple dressing. I love Self-Portrait dresses and jumpsuits, HUNZA-G swimwear, Gucci loafers, and there’s a Fendi handbag I really want but my tax bill just came in so…I have to be realistic about ‘want’ and ‘need’.
Where is your favourite hangout in London?
I love staying at home and hosting dinner parties, spending quality time with friends. Hally’s in Parsons Green is nice for lunch or the Goat Pub, and I like Eight Over Eight on Sunday night for an early dinner.
If you weren’t a jewellery designer, fashion influencer or reality TV star what would you be?
A jewellery designer.
What mantra do you live by?
Do what you love and you’ll love what you do. It’s not about making money, it’s about doing what you love. Starting a brand costs a lot of money and you don’t break even for years. All the money I make I invest into the new collection, the next photo shoot and set of samples, the display stands and cabinets for trade shows. Stuff like that. I remember buying a display stand off Ebay and then sitting on all fours at home painting it by hand with a tiny paintbrush. I could have bought a really expensive one but you can’t do that when you’re in business.
What’s your most popular piece of jewellery?
The gold tight chain necklace.
What’s your pet hate?
People who are late.
What’s your favourite emoji?
The aubergine. It makes me laugh.
What are you listening to a the moment?
How would your best friend describe you?
Busy, but always there.
Who is your hero?
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Brie or Cheddar?
What’s your favourite TV show?
Louis Theroux documentaries.
What’s your favourite animal?
My dog noodle the dachshund.
Have you experienced the same business challenges as Rosie? Yeah? Tell us about them in the comments below.
Rosie Fortescue Jewellery
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