Scamp & Dude opens in Edinburgh: founder Jo Tutchener-Sharp tells us about the brain surgery that led to her brand
As Scamp & Dude opens its first Scottish store in Edinburgh’s St James Quarter on September 9, we speak to their CEO and founder, Jo Tutchener-Sharp.
Tell us about your time in hospital
My life changed forever in 2015 when an acute headache saw me admitted to hospital. I discovered I had a lump on my brain which had haemorrhaged.
When facing the fear that my life was about to end, I found myself questioning how proud I was of the life I’d lived. I realised that I hadn’t done enough ‘good’ and it’s horrible to realise it might be too late to make that change. I made a pact with myself that if I made it through my brain surgery, I would dedicate my life to giving back.
The idea behind Scamp & Dude came when I was recovering in hospital. My kids were just one and three years old at the time and visiting me would have been terrifying for them. I looked like Frankenstein with one side of my head shaved, a large cut and 20 staples, so we were apart for 10 days. I wished I could have given them a superhero to watch over them, so the first product I designed was our Superhero Sleep Buddy. These comforters have a pocket for a photograph of whoever the child wants to hold close, giving kids security when apart from their loved ones. For every one sold, we donate another to a child who has lost a parent or is seriously ill themselves.
I also created a superpower-infused clothing line. Each garment comes complete with its very own Superpower Button to be pressed when the wearer needs it most. Scamp & Dude started life as a kids brand, but over the past seven years we have changed into a womenswear brand, (launching into Liberty of London womenswear department in 2021) with a smaller kids collection, but the heart, and purpose has remained.
Are you well now?
Thankfully I made a full recovery.
How much money have you raised through charity projects?
We’ve donated over £1.3m worth of products and over 6,300 Superhero Sleep Buddies and earlier this year we launched our Super Scarf Mission. The ambition is to donate a scarf to every woman starting chemotherapy treatment in the UK this year (which is sadly around 60,000 women) and so far we’ve donated over 23,000. I designed Super Scarves with the aim of wrapping women in a superpower-infused hug. There are now over 22 designs with ones from celebrities launching soon.
We also donate a pair of Lucky Pants to a man, woman or child in hospital for every pack sold. We have regular ‘kindness days’ where we donate clothing to someone in hospital for every item sold. There’s something exciting launching in October with inspirational women in the beauty space. It’s going to be a great campaign to raise a lot of money for charities.
Has building the brand been harder than you'd imagined?
It’s been hard work, sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears, but worth it. When it came to launching Scamp & Dude, the biggest change for me was that after being given a second chance at life, I no longer saw any barriers. I wasn’t put off by the fact I had never designed a collection of clothes before and had no idea how to find a factory, I knew I could learn and embraced the challenge. I came out of my ordeal with a new fire in my belly, it made me determined to make a difference, to make my life count and create a brand that really helps other people.
Did anything change for the brand during Covid?
We saw huge demand for our loungewear and grew 265 per cent that year, which was bonkers! I made sure we changed our offering when we came out of lockdown, introducing denim, knitwear and more dresses to our customers who were desperate to dress up again.
What do your kids think of the brand?
The name is a nod to Sonny (Scamp) and Jude (Dude) and they have been part of the journey from the start. They love being in the photoshoots, at shop launches and some of our events and seeing Scamp & Dude out and about (we get a point for each piece we spot). They share their ideas with me. Last year my eldest, Sonny, designed a print for a new tracksuit. Most recently Sonny and Jude gave each our Superhero Sleep Buddies their own personalities so customers could easily pick their favourite - from what food they love, their hobbies to their favourite games. I hope it continues as they get older.
The design process always starts by looking at trends. We then decide upon the palette, prints and new shapes before playing with colour clashes.
Our first conversation is always ‘what is the most sustainable way of producing this garment’ and we always ensure collections are as flattering as possible for every body shape. Our customers always tell me what they want.
What are the bestsellers?
Our camo jacket, denim dresses, plus our leopard and lightning bolt maxi dresses. Our studded bum bag sold out in two days and our sequinned kimono has been a big hit. Our force for good charity products are always so brilliantly supported by our community too.
Rob (Mr Scamp & Dude) grew up near Huntly in Aberdeenshire and went to school in Edinburgh. It’s has always been my favourite Scottish city so it seemed like the perfect place. Our ‘Duder’ community has always been so strong in Scotland and they have been asking for a store for quite some time. St James Quarter is an inviting physical space for our consumers to come together, hang out and have fun.
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