We love celebrating strong, successful women here at The Caviar Spoon, which is why we’ve created ReBelles. These are the women who are working it and owning it in life, work, and everything in between. Our newest #rebelleboss is Rosie Van Cutsem, one half of the sister team behind contemporary British clothing brand Troy London.
You never know who you’re going to meet where. For example, you might head to a fashion event hosted by a brand you already love and end up connecting with the #rebelleboss designer of another fabulous brand. More specifically, thanks to our buddies at Fairfax & Favor, Pra had the chance to meet Rosie Van Cutsem of TROY London and explore some of their beautiful pieces (she couldn’t stop eyeing the Elements parka thinking how perfect it would be in Verbier!).
TROY is a British outerwear and apparel brand that was started by Rosie and her sister Lucia Ruck Keene when they realised there was huge lack of clothing that could easily transition with them as they went between the city and countryside. What they came up with is a collection that is both chic and functional – two words you don’t always see together, especially when it comes to outdoor wear!
The parka Pra had her eye on is the result of a recent collaboration with Amanda Wakeley. Its slim silhouette and fur-trimmed hood are anything but drab and bulky and yet it still does what a parka should do – keep you warm and protected from the elements. The same goes for the rest of TROY’s collection, which includes everything from dresses and dungarees in addition to their signature outerwear.
TROY’s designs have been seen in good company, including the Duchess of Cambridge (unsurprisingly, the wax parka she was photographed wearing almost immediately went into wait-list status), Poppy Delevigne, and Jacquetta Wheeler. What’s inspiring is how successful the brand has become since it went from concept to creation in 2014, given that neither Rosie nor Lucia had fashion experience prior to starting this business.
It goes to show if you have a clear vision for how to fill a gap in the market (and some hustle and a solid business plan, of course!), there isn’t much that can stop you from succeeding.
Below, Rosie shares some of her insights and advice as a #rebelleboss who made the leap from corporate to creative and took a chance on a dream.
Ed. note: some answers have been edited for clarity
Please provide a brief background and career to date.
Having had a wonderful time studying at Trinity College in Dublin, I moved to London and worked for eight years as a city headhunter. It was a fascinating and varied work environment which allowed me to meet some exceptionally talented people. Having been developing a business plan over long dinners with my sister Lucia, I left in 2015 to pursue our dream of setting up TROY and designing chic clothing for the great outdoors.
TROY is now entering its fourth year of designing and manufacturing beautiful British made coats, parkas and wardrobe staples for women around the world.
What makes you a #rebelleboss and why?
I am flattered to be asked. I try to keep a clear vision on where we are taking the business, and to keep up the energy to ensure we get there faster than planned.
What is your biggest regret? What are you going to do about it (if you haven’t already)?
I wish I could speak another language fluently…Rosetta Stone here I come!
If you could turn back the clock to when you started out, what’s one thing you would change immediately?
I don’t think there is much I would change. It was certainly a very steep learning curve at the start, as neither my sister nor I had worked in the fashion industry before, but we met some truly inspiring people who got our foot on the ladder and gave us the confidence to develop our first collection.
Proudest moment/achievement so far?
Ooh, it is hard to nail it down to one moment, but gaining our first stockist, Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire, was a thrill and a big confidence boost. We are still stocked there today.
One question you want to ask someone you admire in your world?
Theresa May: how does she keep getting back up after all the battering she gets every day. I might not agree with everything she does, but I truly admire her stoicism.
What advice would you give to women looking to succeed in their careers?
Go for it and don’t get angry, get even.
Has fear stopped you from trying out an idea where you ended up missing an opportunity?
Not often. I try to grab frightening opportunities as I believe it is important to get out of your comfort zone.
Tell us about a time someone said you couldn’t do something and you proved them wrong.
We were approached by Amanda Wakeley to develop a collaboration last summer. I was expecting my second baby and everyone warned there was not enough time, but with team work and buckets of good will, we made it work. The resulting Elements Parka was a sell out success! We are relaunching it again this winter.
One key tip that has served you well in progressing your career?
Don’t be afraid to ask the question. It might be to negotiate down a fee or to ask a favour. If done sensitively you will never regret it, so long as you can deal with a ‘no’ every now and then!
What’s one thing you do regularly to maintain your sanity?
I try to escape the office to ride my horse. It is my happy place. Ideally at a gallop!
Which pieces from TROY are in constant rotation in your own closet?
When people meet you or your brand, what’s one thought or feeling you want them to walk away with?
That this is an effortless way to look chic while being warm and protected from the elements.
What are the most important things we can do to help girls and young women build confidence in their skills/abilities and pursue whatever the hell they want?
On an individual level, ensure you are available for advice and informal catch-ups to support others as I know I have been supported along the way. Looking more broadly, we must keep working to improve perceptions of paternity leave so men feel more comfortable with this as a fair option and of course, continue the battle for equal pay.
Your favourite travel destination and why?
The Outer Hebrides of Scotland is wild and rugged and breathtakingly beautiful on a breezy sun-filled day…but the Italian Dolomites might take the prize for clean mountain air, delicious food, and healthy living.
One woman in business who deserves a shout-out and why?
The beautiful Stylist Sarah Kate Byrne, she is rocking the racing world with her eclectic style where fashion meets vintage classics.
ed. note: stay tuned for a #rebelleboss interview with Sarah!
How do you pay it forward?
When life throws good things my way, I try to send that positivity and happiness right back out there into the ether. It is too easy to get stuck in the negativity.
Your life mantra
Life is too short!
Ask us a question!
Where do you get your energy from – you guys seem to be globetrotting constantly!