Timeless designs with Adrian Aldred
In this MVP Exclusive interview, we sit down with Convopiece Owner, Curator and Entrepreneur, Adrian Aldred, to discuss his passion for the timepiece, personal ethos, and his forecast of things to come. Convopiece is a name synonymous with intricate elegance and cutting edge design. Their boutique boasts an exquisite collection of timepieces, all hand-selected works of art. At first glance, they may evoke one wonder of the curator’s eye for creativity and complex imagination. Each timepiece is truly a conversation piece, which is sure to catch the eye of the most discriminating Horologist.
MVP Let’s begin with the journey of Convopiece Boutique. Looking back, what early experiences defined the brand that is now Convopiece? And, which experience had the most impact on your creative direction?
AA A defining experience was when I procrastinated on the initial idea but had an affordable yet very effective brand in mind to launch with, the CEO was very keen to give me a shot. When I finally made the decision to go for it, he had passed away 2 months earlier; I sold my car and flew to Switzerland a.s.a.p.
Another was when I was sourcing an Italian brand via another boutique where I was the middleman. I learned an important lesson when I visited their stand at an exhibition in Switzerland and they knew nothing of me. From that point I made it my mission to know CEO’s and watchmakers personally.
As a designer, creatively my vision was always strong. My focus was always on the product; I will always handle the execution. If my clients are used to looking at websites like Rolex and Cartier, my photography, typography and overall feel needs to exceed or be on par to stand a chance of introducing someone to a new way of viewing timepieces. My concept for the appointment box utilized by background in product design, I wanted to create a memory experience like those I would get when shopping in a luxury store. I recall a purchase from Louis Vuitton’s flagship Paris boutique, the details, the service it’s all a cherished memory. I thought long and hard how to make the Convopiece experience memorable, even my business cards are the same stock used for Duncan Ballantyne’s last New Years party; it’s all a feeling and an opportunity to make a lasting impression.
MVP Most children growing up aspire to be astronauts, doctors or lawyers. What were your formative aspirations? And, how did ‘Luxury Timepiece Curator’ make it to the top of your list?
AA As a child I always wanted to be a car designer, every car that came out I would sketch my version of what the next model should look like. I admired the works of Raymond Loewy and Harley Earl.
At 19 I discovered Rolex. I acquired the simplest model I could afford, a used Air King, which I paid off for monthly and it, was only £650 then! I loved the fact that something so discrete could be of such value.
From a clothing perspective I always liked to be unique, even as a teenager. In my late 20’s I used to go to Milan for a day just to shop for the niche clothing brands. This eventually filtered into the timepieces I chose for certain outfits. It was never about price, it was always about taste and when best suited the look, people were drawn to the overall curation. It became intriguing to see how far I could take it. Believing I could bring something new and of value to the industry was the tallest hurdle to overcome.
MVP The making of any company/business takes a considerable amount of time and capitol to see it to fruition. How long has your company been in the making and how did you come by the name ‘Convopiece’ (which is a great name by the way)?
AA Building Convopiece has taken more money and time to create than I can explain in this article; it’s truly a labor of love. Around 5 years of meeting, travelling, learning and researching, it will never end, the more I learn, the more value my clients continue to receive. The name (thanks for the compliment) was derived out of being asked, “What watch is that” often. The term “conversation piece” also fulfilled my desire to feature more than timepieces I love the accessories, and am thinking of a lifestyle angle in future.
MVP When selecting a luxury timepiece to complement the Convopiece Collection, what’s the most important aspect of your search?
AA The most important thing is that each piece has it’s own magic; no two brands should have the same look, feel or key function. Collectively in my mind they are there to serve different taste, styles and budgets. A delicate balance, in some cases only one or two models from a collection are chosen.
MVP You have travelled the world in search of the perfect timepiece for the Convopiece Collection. Which countries would our readers find at the top of your list for favorite finds?
My top countries for finds are:
1. Switzerland (of course): The UK market gets so little of what is produced there as most shops only stock the well known brands. Watchmaking is an established career path there and marketing budgets, not innovations, are why many never reach the UK.
– Germany: Renown for precision and a clean aesthetic, from the single handed affordable pieces by Defakto to astounding craft executed by Lang and Heyne, there is a wealth of quality choice.
– Britain: Yep, home grown talent is on the rise, there’s a nice selection growing, pieces by Schofield, Struthers, Pinion, Robert Loomes (I can go on and on). They all evoke a sense of poised British charm of which I understand and appreciate. I’m planning more to showcase these names in future. Look them up! Then call me!
– Hmmmm. I think that’s enough, I can’t give away all my secret hot spots!
MVP What has been the greatest challenge in building the Convopiece brand? And, how did you respond to the challenge?
AA By far my biggest challenge was convincing companies that my vision for an online boutique was credible and unlike anything before it. If you can imagine 5 years ago, people were so skeptical about online shopping, a few still are but the reach and potential is now more recognized.
I overcame this by presenting compelling visuals featuring their timepieces, simple clean design always works. Consistently expressing knowledge of their products, the industry and conveying personality within the site so it feels truly personal became a bonus. I believe people buy into people; it needs to be real to gain genuine trust felt they saw this in my approach.
MVP What would be your advice to a young start up company facing the challenges of launching a business from the ground up?
AA With the online tools available today, I would advise any start up to research the market thoroughly before embarking. The Internet has made business a global thing, so we need to be world class, not a countries standard. Also the customer has access to the same information as you, putting yourself into what you do is what they can’t buy anywhere else.
It’s always good to know your personal attributes of your business; if you are lacking a skill on an interpersonal level then build it! This could be the win to your next contract. Finally, do what you love as you’ll be tested intensely along the way!
MVP With the world of fashion trending from one fad to another, do you take current trends into consideration during the planning/selection phases of your work?
AA I analyze the trends, but never follow them. It’s good to know what a person is trying to communicate by their style; intelligent, understated or brash and attention seeking I appreciate them all and look for pieces to express a persons taste for today and tomorrow
MVP What do you want your clients to experience when wearing one of your exquisite timepieces?
AA I want my clients to experience the feeling of unrivaled self-expression regardless of how much they have spent. I love when someone gets in touch after a purchase and says, “I get inquiries and compliments all the time” it’s a testament to their great taste and individuality.
MVP What level of service should clients expect from Convopiece Boutique?
AA An honest and personal service from someone that cares about what they offer is why Convopiece is here. My aim is not to flog but curate the right piece for you. With many items being made to order sometimes there can be unexpected delays, I happily call clients if there is a concern and often a conversation can clarify and solve an issue.
MVP Along with exquisite timepieces, the Convopiece Boutique collection also includes; pens, cufflinks, belts, even a bangle. How were these accessories inspired? And, how do they correlate with the timepiece?
AA Today’s timepieces utilize certain materials and finishes like carbon fibre and black PVD coating. My accessories are either directly inspired by details found on a timepiece or share the same material finishes and level of craft. Each item serves as a lifestyle compliment, to the attire and the timepiece; I’ve even curated the accessories when products are selected on the site. The devil is in the details they say.
MVP Every Convopiece design reflects an intrinsic part of both art and life. The attraction is undeniable. What suggestions are most beneficial to clients looking for just the right Convopiece?
AA When consulting a client I always get them to explain their existing collection, then select a conversation piece that compliments what they have. It’s good to be clear on the context you want the timepiece for; casual days out to wear with jeans or that special piece for events only, with this in mind you may gain more use out of it. If you’ve scoured the site, and have an idea for what you want, I’d suggest contacting me. There could be more in a collection that fits your brief or something new can be proposed, there’s so much out there!
MVP Please elaborate on your ‘Ethos’. And, how do you apply its foundational truth to your brand?
AA I’d say my ethos is; Have fun with it, buy something you love that reflects who you are. Many (including myself) buy the pieces the magazine says are in, holding value etc. but in reality this value can only be realized once you sell it! I believe collectors should have a balanced selection, some for value and aesthetics, others for aesthetics, craft and for the love of it. We all forget the even Rolex had a first day of business where they were not well known, if new talents are not supported the industry itself will get boring and you could miss out on the next big thing! My aim is to celebrate the pieces that evoke a feeling on site; they harmonize with your attire, taste and desires.