In 2013, two entrepreneurial Old Stoic chums set off on an epic journey from the deepest depths of the Norfolk countryside to the mountains of Spain with a strong mission in mind: to create the next luxury British lifestyle brand. Slowly but surely, the company steadily grew; many of us were captured from the outset in a whirlwind of boot tassels & champagne and followed the brand’s journey, one step at a time.
2018 marked five fantastic years of fun, frivolity and Fairfax & Favor. This article shares the development of Marcus Fairfax Fountaine (Chandos 09) and Felix Favor Parker’s (Cobham 09) company over the last five years and ends with some words of advice for budding entrepreneurs looking for inspiration to take the leap.
In the summer of 2013, their signature Regina boot and Bedingfeld shoe were born. Fairfax & Favor set off on a voyage to the Norfolk coast for their first ever show at Holkham Country Fair. Despite the rather unconventional stand design (more ‘shabby’ than ‘chic’, shall we say) lo and behold, the show was a surprising success. To this day, country shows have become the backbone of the Fairfax & Favor lifestyle, exhibiting at 35 different events around the UK and across Europe; the shows are no doubt the beating heart of the brand.
One year down, things were looking hopeful. In 2014, with the boots and shoes seemingly a show success, attention turned to producing the next best thing – the all season essential, the girl’s best friend. No, not diamonds…the handbag, of course. The Windsor handbag to be precise, and what a game changer it proved to be. Today, the Windsor remains a firm favourite and even has its own extended family, the Mini Windsor and Windsor Travel.
In 2015, the business-building ball really started to roll. Cue the heeled Regina, which in turn led to the first official SS/15 campaign with a real-life photographer, not just Felix snapping aimlessly with his mum’s digital camera.
2016 saw Fairfax & Favor secure their very first outdoor pitch at the holy grail of all countryside shows: The Game Fair. Complete with a fully stocked gin bar and magician, the show was a roaring success, and certainly set the bar for years to follow. In the same year, Felix and Marcus decided it was time to start giving back and introduced the pink tassel. In support of Breast Cancer Care, sales of the limited edition pink tassel raised a whopping £14,800 for the charity, endorsed widely by well-known bloggers and celebrities alike. It was a huge success and not just a one-off! Every year, Fairfax & Favor are dedicated to supporting Breast Cancer Care, the grand total raised for 2018 was £43,426.
In 2017, they launched the beautiful and sophisticated over-the-knee Amira. In celebration of this, a true Fairfax & Favor style excursion was of course on the cards. The first ever international photoshoot was in the making – think, dusty mountain escapades on camel-back, Desert Boots on dirt bikes, Reginas rocking in the Kasbah.
The fun didn’t stop there. Last year, their brand dominated an abundance of unforgettable events; they sponsored the Fairfax & Favor Rockingham International Horse Trials; ventured to a wet and wonderful SS/18 photoshoot campaign Made in Menorca and collaborated with the gorgeous model blogger extraordinaire to release the Amy Neville Collection. They wrapped up their 5th birthday celebrations in style: Newmarket Racecourse played host to a brilliant birthday bash bonanza. Here’s to the next five years!
Marcus and Felix returned to Stowe earlier this year to take part in an interview for The Corinthian, masterminded and captured on film by the talented Old Stoic behind Ablinq Media, Will Berner (Chatham 11) and his business partner Charlie.
Advice from Marcus and Felix is detailed below to provide a behind the scenes look into their recipe for success.
1. How did you develop the Fairfax & Favor brand so quickly?
It all began on the outdoor show circuit. Between the two of us, we packed in as many shows as we physically could manage and gradually between a combination of the shows, social media and word of mouth, the brand slowly began to build a name for itself.
2. Did you have any start-up funding?
Marcus and I worked two jobs, splitting our time between pub shifts at the Bedingfeld Arms and working as a fireplace delivery team, combining our wages we were able to save £8000.
3. What is Fairfax & Favor’s main objective?
To become one of the leading aspirational lifestyle brands.
4. Did your time at Stowe influence your brand in any way?
Yes, definitely. Spending the majority of our childhood within the beautiful surroundings of the school certainly opened our eyes. From this, our appreciation for fine detailed design has definitely been influenced, with a selection of our products being named after Houses, such as Grenville, Chatham and Walpole.
5. What is your strongest form of advertising?
Social media. Through the use of various social media platforms, we are able to connect with the customer on almost a personal level, giving a sense of involvement as we welcome them to our ‘club’.
6. Do you have a large team of staff?
Four years ago, we had a solid team of two employees. Today, we employ 30 people in our Norfolk HQ and another team in Portugal.
7. Who does your designing?
Our designs are to some extent, very much influenced by customer feedback. Logistically I am (Felix) in charge of leading the design and look after the supply side of things, whereas Marcus looks after demand.
8. What is your favourite product?
The heeled Regina will always be our number one top product. It was our first real win in terms of creating an innovative fashion boot, new to the market. I (Felix) live in my Nelsons, they are a supremely comfortable yet amazingly practical and versatile Chelsea Boot. Marcus on the other hand is more of a Monte Carlo man.
9. Who are your main competitors?
For the Country Lifestyle market, it has to be Dubarry. We also consider Russell & Bromley as another top competitor.
10. What is Fairfax & Favor’s greatest weakness?
As a fashion brand, we are at the mercy of this fast paced, ever changing industry. We have to ensure we are consistently coming up with new, innovative designs and bringing new products to the table.
11. Have you had any huge disasters?
In the early days, we had a slight altercation with a famous Italian brand with snaffle loafers regarding a copyright infringement issue. Consequently, we were sued by the company… it was pretty terrifying!