“People are shocked that I get up so early…”

It’s not all star-studded parties for Heidy Rehman, who runs a trailblazing fashion brand

Fed up with not being able to find clothing that she wanted to wear in her professional life, stockbroker Heidy Rehman quit her successful job with Citi in 2013 to set up a fashion empire. Rose & Willard (roseandwillard.com) is the result of her endeavours and in just over two years, the trailblazing label has become known for affordable luxury with an ethical, feminist conscience. It’s not all been a walk in the park, of course…

Maintain focus “My name is actually pronounced ‘Heedy’. It’s amazing how I’ve known and worked with some people for years and yet they still call me Heidi. Plus, my surname is Rehman, which many people assume is pronounced ‘Ray-man’. I once met with a team from a Swiss company, all of whom were convinced that I was Swiss. They were insistent. I pointed out that I neither look nor sound Swiss. Someone then suggested I might be German… “The point is, that if you’re insistent on ironing out all the mispronunciations in business, you can go off on a tangent and get tied up with irrelevant points. Just move on.”

Travel smart “I know of a number of ex-colleagues who would dash to the airport for a trip and then realise they’d forgotten their passport – one managed to take his wife’s passport on at least three occasions. This is the sort of thing that always happens to rookies in business, and it’s something that I got out of my system when I was working in the city and travelling abroad around 30 times a year – although I should point out that I managed to leave a meeting in Frankfurt once without my wheelie case and got halfway to the airport without realising.”

Respect cultural differences “I used to travel to meet clients in Japan and, on one occasion, one of the people I was presenting to started to nod off. In fact, he fell fast asleep. The colleague I was with indicated that I should continue talking and so I found myself addressing a man who was clearly out of it. It was rather surreal. And, to make things even more peculiar, when I said to my colleague afterwards that I was quite concerned that my presentation wasn’t up to scratch, he told me not to worry as they didn’t speak English anyway. It transpired that in Japan, sometimes the content of the meeting doesn’t matter – flying in from far away is a mark of respect and that’s what counts.”

Know when to micromanage “I once had the unfortunate situation of confirming an overseas trip to see clients but, when the time came, I discovered that my assistant had not anticipated my need for a flight and nothing had been booked. I think you can be in danger of being a control freak, so you have to be careful about when to let go and when to make sure that everything is under control – and that gets tougher as you employ more staff. Ultimately, you have to trust people to do what they’re paid to do.“

Ask the right questions “In appraisals, rather than judge the person being appraised, I prefer to invite them to undertake a more self-analytical appraisal. I often start with a ’How’s it going?’ sort of question and then move on to ‘So, what do you think you’ve done particularly well this year?’ and see where the conversation goes. “I have to admit that on one occasion it was a bit of a loaded question, as I knew the candidate had been underperforming. He paused for a while and then said, ‘Nothing really’. We concluded that this was a problem and he left the company shortly thereafter.”

Nip things in the bud “I once had an employee who really struggled with timekeeping. We discussed this on several occasions, as she was invariably 15 minutes late every day. She kept missing the 8.15am bus, so I informed her that she needed to address her timekeeping to avoid a written, formal warning. Her incredulous response was, ‘Are you telling me you want me to get the bus at 8 o’clock?’ Nowadays, I say my piece much earlier to avoid things like this developing…”

It’s not all work, work, work “Nobody here works longer than eight hours in a day. I try and encourage a different sort of environment – not one that revolves around non-stop work. I have a Dalmatian-cross rescue dog called Amanda that I take into work with me and she wanders around the place. The machinists adore her and she’s kind of indicative of a more relaxed workplace.”

Slow down “Sometimes you have to take things easy, stand still and take stock. When I was working in the City, it was a high-pressure environment, but if I were to try and apply that intensity to this business, mistakes would get made. On a related note, I’ve found it’s important not to have glass doors in buildings where people rush about to meetings a lot.”

Dress for the occasion “I was once fortunate enough to attend the Goodwood horse races with the management of a large FTSE100 company. We made our way to the VIP section up some stairs and along some decking. I was wearing some really lovely high heels and managed to get one heel stuck between the slats. “I tried to casually pull it out, but it wasn’t happening, so I decided to stand there a while until the people traffic slowed. But the traffic didn’t slow. Eventually, I was forced to bend down to physically remove my shoe in a crowd and then limp off with it in my hand. Not my most elegant moment.”

This interview was carried out by SIM7’s Simeon de la Torre and first appeared in easyJet Traveller magazine. To read the latest issue (and the entire back catalogue of magazines), visit: https://ink-global.com/our-clients/portfolio/easyjet-traveller/