Luxury South Action Group Members Interview
Lisa Lavis from Glow tells us why she is involved in the Luxury South Action Group and a Business South Champion
Tell us about your company/organisation and its history
I’m lucky to be the Managing Director, and one of the original founders, of Glow, a design agency located in the beautiful 13th century Wickham Square. In June 2019 we celebrated 19 years in business and, despite a continually changing economic environment, achieved our best sales year to date!
Building on a great year, we still have lots more to achieve and work on. One area is Glow’s newly created ‘Nurturing Strategy’ which is very exciting and getting the team enthused. Part of the strategy is welcoming design interns each year; we’re currently planning for our summer intern competition 2019!
We’re only small (4 full-time staff) but we’re pretty mighty and take huge pride in delivering creative projects for our clients, many in the South. Some familiar names include Southampton Airport, Lucketts Travel, Go! Southampton, Knights Brown and Destination South.
How is Lisa Lavis involved in Luxury?
For me personally, I believe it is how I choose to live my life and run my company which defines how I am involved in Luxury. I recently found an interview I did with The News not long after I started Glow and was delighted to read, nearly two decades ago before mental health and wellbeing were a normalised work discussion, that I firmly believed your home life is always more important than work life. I read with a wry smile too at my innocent naivety to both life and work. I was late 20s, had oodles of energy and was living the fun-filled haze that starting a new business brings. But regardless, I had recently come out of London corporate life, seen and experienced the all-nighters and knew there was a better way of working.
My attitude to work and life means that I can afford to experience (what I consider to be) luxuries every day. And it’s always the simple things; walking whenever I can during the day and enjoying the change in seasons, exercising every morning (we’re talking 5 mins here, not a full gym session!) also fitting in cycling & pilates throughout the week. But probably, most key, is making sure I make time to laugh, to think and to re-boost my spark and creativity.
Why is Lisa Lavis a Champion of Business South and involved in the Luxury South Action Group?
I have always believed it is essential in business to build great connections with clever people who want to make a difference.
Business South provides the voice for businesses in the South. It stands for engagement, lobbying, inspiring events, influencing change and pushing through big initiatives. It’s a powerful and clued up organisation and, since joining, has helped me grow as a business person and I’ve learnt loads too!
I was keen to join Luxury South Action Group as I wanted to bring my creativity, branding experience and project management skills to a sector which I believe in and want to see thrive in the South.
For me, it’s not necessarily all about the huge brands (although learning about their heritage and how they tick is fascinating) but it’s working to identify and enhance knowledge and communication with the many luxury small and medium sized companies. If we remember a small business is a company with turnover less than £25m, a medium one less than £500m there are plenty of beefy, very good luxury brands [in the South] producing beautiful products, delivering service at its best but not necessarily very well known in the region.
My hope is by building the Luxury South Action Group brand and increase awareness, we can tap into more of these companies, to help them thrive and enable us to enjoy too.
Luxury means different things to different people, but how do you define luxury?
I think my biggest luxury is time. Time to think, to plan, to be creative and work on Glow’s strategy. And this can be from anywhere – no rules, if I allow myself time, the great ideas always follow – eventually.
Luxury to me is also is how a beautiful fragrance can make me feel. If a hotel or restaurant wants to wow me, it needs to make sure it smells amazing! Chewton Glen, the quintessentially English, privately owned luxury Country House Hotel & Spa is an absolute pro at this. I’d happily stay there all day, in pure heaven!
So, give me time, a fabulous melt-away scent and I am living the luxury dream. I would love to hear more about exquisite, luxury scent companies in the South – candles, body creams, perfumes. I want to see that the brand is on point too. I run a design agency and know how important it is to have a strong brand, design and personality. It makes a huge difference in getting recognised and increasing customer loyalty. Luxury brands, arguably more than other sector, need to have a gorgeous and powerful brand identity, which consumers can resonate with.
Why is the South a great place to have a luxury business?
Diversity: The South has fantastic cities, is a host to fabulous culture, shops and food! Plus, London is generally less than an hour away. Nature too is also a big bonus of living in the South, with the coast and great countryside always within easy touch. I live and work in the Meon Valley and getting to cycle in the stunning countryside every weekend is, for me, a great tonic.
Accessible: It has brilliant and accessible local ports as well as airports; Southampton and Bournemouth. With Gatwick and Heathrow within an hour or so, you really can access anywhere in the world from the South. Glow works with Southampton Airport and we have previously created a campaign to promote ‘Flying Global’. The essence of the message being it’s just like making a train journey, you breeze on to a plane, easily, at Southampton Airport, fly to Paris or Amsterdam and then off to anywhere in the world you fancy! No M25, no tube stations, no huge crowds. Sounds like luxury to me. Southampton Airport is also only 99 steps from Southampton Airport Parkway train station, with direct and fast trains to London as well as West to Bournemouth and beyond.
Switched on: The South is savvy and works with pace. Many of the South’s workers are, like me, ex- London and ex-corporate. They have big ideas, energy to deliver and oodles of skills and enthusiasm to see projects over the line. I believe the difference to London, as an example, is we don’t all work till midnight, it’s ok to have a laugh at work (or at yourself) and sort out some life admin mid-afternoon. Meeting a client for lunch in a fabulous country pub, guilt-free, is also ok.
I haven’t had the pleasure of living or working in the many other fabulous UK cities and countryside hubs, but I have visited many and have clients throughout the UK. If I could take any of my experiences from working around the UK back to the South, it would be to give the region more of an identity; to be a bit more edgy and vibrant. Many northern locations, west and east too, I feel, have a better creative pulse; and as part of Glow’s nurturing strategy to attract and retain the very best, I’d like to see the South push this more!