(THE SHORT VERSION)
The story starts with me turning up at university as a fresher. Far from home, it was time for me to to start a new chapter in my life. I was excited to start meeting all the new people, and to see who I will be sharing my student halls with. University started off as an amazing experience and it kept getting better and more interesting. How I actually got any studying in though still baffles me to this day! I was more interested in hanging out with my friends and joining societies rather than sitting in the dark lecture theatres. One day, with no previous experience or skill, I signed up to the university’s rowing team. I took part in the trials, fitness sessions and even the gruelling 5am river warm ups. Despite the freezing conditions, light to moderate rain and occasional frost-bite it was a really exciting sport and my team and I really wanted to enter in for the collegiate race.
I had an idea about getting the team all in the same coloured socks, with the stripes of our college. Try as I might, I couldn't find the most simple pair of purple and yellow socks anywhere. Instead, I got a sock knitting machine from eBay and crafted 5 pairs of unique socks for the team. These got a lot of attention by the river and I was being asked by other teams to make them up in other colours too. This is where I thought that if I were to make socks in all the different college colours, then not only rowers need get them but other sports teams too.
It wasn't long until the word spread and in just one week I had made around 600 pairs of socks. At that time I was just giving them out. When orders were in for socks, I would spend all night crafting them, and would even hand deliver if they lived on campus. I really enjoyed what I was doing. It seemed so fun, so simple and everybody loved them.
I've always been fascinated with British heritage and I knew that I wanted to draw from this rich history when developing other products. After graduation I moved in with my godparents who had a spare barn and this is when things started to change. I created a website and orders started coming in daily and with the help of my family and god-parents we would spend each day wrapping and posting out orders.
It wasn't long before we had developed the brand and our products enough to establish our first shop. I decided that I wanted to open the first shop back in my hometown where I grew up. Bath, in Somerset, has many attractive features. Firstly the city and society represent exactly what Rupert and Buckley is all about. It's special, attractive and popular. The city has millions of tourists pass through it each year, and I knew that both the locals and the tourists would all get a great opportunity to experience the brand.
Several years later and I am still getting to do what I love best. Flick through old picture books from times gone by, cherry pick the most exciting and vibrant colours from British history and use these as influences for our clothing. Our clothing is simple and contemporary, made to a superior quality and all done out of the love for getting to do what you want to do. Working for yourself can be scary, but every day I get to see all the new faces that get excited about our unique products.
It's widely suggested that when you do something you love you'll be successful. There is no doubt that I'm doing what I love, with a great team who are part of something truly fun and exciting. We're all working very hard and getting to meet some great people too!
James Buckley Thorp