November’s – ‘The Timelessness Issue’ – Download Now
Private Label London-Dubai specialises in three areas of luxury: Create, Source & Invest. We spoke to Founder Daniel Henderson and Commercial Director Alys McMahon to find out what it takes to drive uniqueness in the industry.
What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine?
DH: I get up at 4am and respond to all messages I have received through the night as our network is live 24/7 then I work out for 30 minutes on the Peloton. This time is important for me to set myself up for the day ahead.
AM: I usually get up at 7am and walk the dog with a coffee. I enjoy my time first thing to be quiet.
What are the pillars of the brand and how did you define why these were important?
AM: Creating and sourcing are our two main pillars of the brand and everything we do falls into either the create or source element of the business. Whether it is research and development, design or procurement, the pillars are essential for us to focus on as we evolve our brand and services.
How did you know it was the right time to make the leap in doing something yourself and how did it come about?
DH: Having spent 15 years in corporate arenas, I always wanted to have my own business and do something I enjoyed. So, combining a hobby and a business was key. Today it is more of a lifestyle choice and has allowed me to meet many like-minded individuals.
How did your previous roles prepare you for this leap and is there ever a right time?
DH: Spending 10 years in the financial market, the stakes were high and there is no room for error. Mistakes cannot be made. We now work in an industry trading with high-value items and you have to be aware of the risks associated with this. I quickly learnt that attention to detail and delivering the best product possible is what will set you apart. But if you wait for the right time to set up on your own, it may never come.
How does being able to think outside the box equip you to build a strategy that scales the business?
AM: Being a founding team member at Threads Styling (a shopping service accessed through personal chat) taught me so much about outside the box thinking. You need to be aware of what motivates you and simultaneously be able to recognise key success indicators within the business as well as understand clearly what your clients’ needs are. If you have these, this is ultimately what drives the decisions when developing a strategy that supports scaling.
How challenging was it to secure the sourcing side and why did you decide to focus on this first?
DH: When driving a business that supplies high-value items, there is of course an inherent risk in dealing with these and to start, this was a challenge especially whilst I built the supply network. I decided to focus on this as a priority. You may have the largest client base but without good product and delivery, there isn’t really a sustainable business. I knew that if I could secure a solid supply chain then clients would soon build trust with us.
What’s the most interesting custom piece you’ve made, and which region was it shipped to?
AM: Developing our first custom collection of Spekt Sorbet watches (a set of 7 coloured ceramic watches that are a global exclusive) was something that we spent a long time developing. The orders we fulfilled for this collection were delivered to essentially every corner of the world and this was a really positive affirmation of clients believing in the uniqueness of our designs. We also continue to create several entirely bespoke options for clients, and this includes jewellery too.
What has been the biggest challenge since launching and how did you navigate this?
AM: The biggest challenge is scaling. We have to ensure that with everything we do, we challenge the full idea to understand how it can scale. We are constantly reprioritising as a business to ensure we maintain growth.
Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help navigate the right path?
DH: Having the ear of key people in the industry is what helps inspire me and keeps me on track. I can always rely on them for support and this was especially needed in the earlier days.
AM: I have a couple of mentors within the industry and I try to speak with them regularly to understand if what I am thinking is crazy or inspired. I can rely on them for incredibly candid feedback which I am always thankful for.
Which attributes in terms of Horology are most important when considering investing?
DH: Buying something that you enjoy is the key attribute to any watch regardless of the level of investment. We work with clients to build their collections and it is important to ascertain their reasons for investing before advising on the right piece for them.
Do you see any particular buying trends driving sales in the Middle East and how does this differ from the global appetite?
DH: Clients in the Middle East really like Urdu dials and separately the colour green, whether it is a coloured stone or a base dial colour. There is also a growing appetite for rainbow pieces which shows the fun you can have when designing a watch.
AM: Our clients love colour and recently we created a rainbow bezel watch with a full diamond-set case, bracelet and pavé dial which is fast becoming very popular. With even a slight change to the finished design, it continues to be one of our bestsellers. We also offer it in a DLC coated (blackout) finish.
Which watches you’ve invested in are special to you and why?
DH: I bought an Audemars Piguet yellow gold Royal Oak with a boutique blue dial (ref 26331BA) at $92k and within 6 months I sold it for $120k. The current market is now at prices of $150k.
AM: I bought my first Rolex DateJust 36mm Yellow Gold and Steel in my early 20s and this will always be significant to me. I have always loved watches but for me, this represented growing up.
What is luxury in today’s market?
AM: Today, service and convenience play a very large part in luxury. We want clients to experience the ease of shopping with us. We also service several large-scale global businesses and the transfer of knowledge from us to them is key in the storytelling around a collection or individual watch. This helps to make watch buying with us a luxury convenience.
What advice would you give to your younger self starting out?
DH: Self-belief is everything, making mistakes isn’t a bad thing and failure is inevitable. There were some early speedbumps that were very significant to me at the time, but these experiences have contributed to making me a better businessman overall.
AM: Remember to learn from your successes as well as your mistakes. There are many successful elements in new businesses that occur by coincidence and recognising what worked from these allows you to develop an understanding as well as gives you an opportunity to duplicate a similar scenario again that will aid further success.
This year we celebrate the UAE’s 50th anniversary – what makes this region unique to you?
AM: The UAE has always been a driver of luxury goods, especially remotely. There is no other market that is as progressive when purchasing high-value luxury goods online. This means that we can pilot new ideas focused in the region and gain thoughts from this key audience too.
DH: The UAE region has a keen appetite for the newest product and we know that we can showpieces that are of interest for both male and female clientele.
November’s – ‘The Timelessness Issue’ – Download Now
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