Savile Row is home to some of the greatest tailoring of gentleman’s suits in the world. The blogging tailor, also known as Tom Mahon is an ambassador for the craft with an honest and insightful blog known as English Cut. Initially, I read about English Cut from Scoble and Israel’s excellent book called Naked Conversations. I really wanted to interview Tom and I was lucky enough to do so a little while ago. Tom is truly a great bloke, the type of guy you’d happily have a pint with at the local pub. Tom blends charisma and elegance and was completely unlike my pre-conceived stuffy images of Savile Row tailors! What makes Tom so different? He’s a wonderful, passionate story teller.
Tom launched English Cut back in 2005 and operates from both Saville Row and his Cumbrian workshook. Tom and English Cut set a great example for others to follow. On his blog, he shares with us about his business trips, he talks about the cutting process of the suits he makes, his past searches for an apprentice as well as the best pubs in and around the Row. I can’t see Gieves and Hawkes doing this, can you? English Cut has helped Tom build his business and for many years he has been showered with work. Tom is an advocate of blogging and firms believes that blogging can help any business, as long as you are passionate and have a great story to tell.
Please find below a mini excerpt of my interview with Tom Mahon
What difference has technology made in communicating business messages?
“In the distant past everyone had a horse and cart and everyone was living by candles. How did you find out about things and get things done? You had to talk. The only way was to find somebody and ask them, where can find this? There was two-way communication going on. There’s wasn’t a book you could open up in the 17th Century to find where to find people you needed. In those days, people communicated through talking. Then, in the 20th Century we were bombarded with billboards and signs and effectively, people stopped talking and started telling! This is the best drink in the world! Why? Because that’s what the sign says”
“All of a sudden technology comes along allowing for people to communicate faster and quicker than ever before and nobody is aware of it. You suddenly realise that everybody is talking again. So, the sign isn’t going to tell me that Guinness is good for me, I’d rather ask someone if Guinness is good for me. Today, I can ask millions of people quickly and efficiently and that’s all it is. It’s a bit weird, its using technology but its gone back to communicating in the old way!”.
How did the other Savile Row tailors take to you blogging?
“They think its good, though some of them think I’m mad! The thing about blogs is, that you’ve got to tell the truth. I don’t say anything bad about anyone, because that’s a pointless exercise, I just tell the truth. So, there’s never any criticism, because there’s nothing to criticise You can’t criticise the truth can you? It might upset you, but you can’t criticise it, you just have to accept it. If blogging has worked for us, it will work any business as long as you have the right ingredients. Passion, devotion, honesty and a great story to tell. It’s probably especially well for me, because I’ve revealed how lovely the bespoke tailoring business is. I can put hand on heart and recommend all of the people I work with. That in itself adds an extra string to Savile Row’s bow”.
What benefits do you find from blogging?
“Blogging is a very good way of subconsciously examining your business. Because you talk and write about things, all sorts of things. People say to me, why do you do that? Sometimes you’ll say, I don’t know really. So, in a very informal way, I think you can actually improve the business because you are getting feedback. Not only customer feedback but from outsiders too, who can act as ‘sterile inputs’ into your business. In the past, it was difficult to answer all the feedback because I was always trapped in a realm of customers and tailors. So, blogging is quite a fine tuning tool. In simple terms it’s the best market research tool ever”.
“Often, I’m thinking about a new country or a city and I’ll say, I wonder if I could sell any suits there? The old way was to get all the results on which businesses were there? What their turnover was and what the average person earns there etc etc. Today, it’s totally different. I’ll write a post that I might go to Wichita Falls, anybody fancy a suit? If I get a response from people who say yeah, then I go! If they say no, then I don’t go. How fantastic is that? The blog gives me such a big voice”.
“I was traveling abroad on a particular occasion and was sitting in a hotel room updating a blog entry. I found an old post that I had written a year or so earlier. I started reading it and became fascinated! When I wrote that post, I was different person to whom I am now. The business was also in a different place. It was interesting to see how my thoughts had developed over the months and how the business had also grown. It was both weird and exciting in reading that post that I had written earlier. I didn’t want to go to bed!”
“With a blog, you can write if you feel like writing, or don’t write if you don’t feel like writing. Believe it or not, my blog was never written to impress anybody. It was not written to gain more sales. Hugh [MacLeod] said to me, just write down all your great stories Tom. Once you soon start blogging, you’ll find that you want to share your thoughts with everyone”.
“Blogging does have its dangers. You can start a blog and say all sorts of things. But sooner or later, if you tell any porky’s, oh boy are they going to be found out and your business will be destroyed! So it keeps you walking a very straight line. We had a tailor once who was a bit of a rogue on the road. He thought he had a command over the Internet as many of the other tailors were older and didn’t use the Internet. He thought no one was paying any attention. He thought he had this captive audience and basically he was telling lots of lies. He lied about other tailors, about his own business and his own credentials. It lasted for a while but then he came down with such a crash because the truth will always out in the end, he’s bankrupt now”.
English Cut has taken a unique approach to marketing by using a blog. Tom has broken with tradition, developed new customers from around the world and has changed the norms of the bespoke tailoring industry. It is essential for small businesses to develop a marketing strategy that corresponds with the changes taking place in the marketplace today. This is why English Cut sees continued success.