If I’m being honest, my forever favourite candidate from the BBC Apprentice 2018 was tree surgeon Tom Bunday, as you might remember from my last year’s The Apprentice player ratings.
Quiet, reassuring and still sightly terrifying, he is the kind of dude you would appoint to sort things out with your landlord.
My second choice was nut milk brand owner Camilla Ainsworth, although I am not a fan of her obsession for the glossy lips thing.
But just as the previous year I didn’t realise how clever confectionery business owner and 2017 Apprentice winner Sarah Lynn was ’till the end – this year I either didn’t grasp how good swimwear fashion brand owner Sian Gabbidon is until she reached the final stages of the process.
I started noticing and appreciating Sian since she pissed off that petulant Sabrina Stocker in the television advert task in Week 9.
As today I interview her about Sian Marie, the online swimwear business she owns with Lord Sugar, she confirms herself as a credible and strong business owner who knows her industry inside out and is madly passionate about affordable luxury swimwear.
Here’s my frank interview with Sian Gabbidon – and here is a big thank you to PR guru Andrew Bloch for making this happen!
Hey Sian – Silvia from The Shortlisted Magazine here. Thank you for the interview opportunity 🙂
No problems! And you thank you for calling!
So, what was your dream job as a child?
Ouhhhh…. my dream job… that’s tricky. I don’t know if I had a dream job… I think that when I was younger I just wanted to do something fun and that I enjoyed. I just wanted to be successful, really… boredom is terrible for a child… I just wanted – to know… I had a look at my parents and I wanted to be an adult like them. So, I didn’t have a particular dream job that I wanted to do… I just wanted to be successful.
At some point in your audition you said that you were playing football and that you were “really really good at it”, so why did you stop?
Mmm… to be honest, I’ve always been into fashion, and I was kind of playing football as a sport, for fitness, and I enjoyed playing as well. And then I kind of started high-school and I kind of grew up a little bit, and my dad was really pro-football… but then, yes, I went to high-school and I switched into fashion. You know, back in the day we learned about everything, about textiles, pieces of art and fabrics – not only clothes.
Why did you get so passionate about swimwear? I mean, you don’t come from a warm country such as Spain or Italy when you’ve got sunny beaches all around you…
Hahaha… well, I think it was probably just because I felt like – on a personal level – that with swimwear and things like that, it was difficult to find stuff that fits well. So I was going to the high-street in the old days to try to find something but it didn’t really fit well. Or like I needed a different-size top but you couldn’t swap it… so, for me it was like: OK, there is probably a market here for this. And probably, you know, today everyone wants to look different, so I think there’s where this swimwear brand come from.
What was your plan B if you didn’t win The Apprentice?
If I had not won, I would have continued doing what I’m doing now, I would have just – you know – worked my way up to looking for an investor hopefully… but there wouldn’t have been a plan B any different from what I’m doing now.
What would you suggest to someone struggling to decide whether they want to be employee, self-employed or businesspeople?
I would just tell people to go for it and do whatever they really want to do. I think, especially now there are many more platforms and things like social media open up to encourage people to start their own business or to be self-employed or to do whatever they want to do. So I think back in the day there was always a bit of… well, when you think about my parents and the way they have worked their whole life and then… But now for me it is that if you really have a passion about something, just go out and do it, and if it doesn’t work, you can find something else… you know, it’s all about confidence.
Really wise advice from you.
Do you think people could ever go back to employment after having been in business?
Mmmm… I think you can… but I imagine if you ask entrepreneurs they’ll probably say they would find it difficult to do…
You know, not quite really. Not all of them would agree – at least not all of those I have interviewed. This is why I’m always asking this question.
Ahhhh, really? OK, well, I personally would struggle because I like to be in control and to be making decisions and you know, I like doing things the way I want to do it… So, yeah, I personally would struggle with it, but, well… some people may not.
And do you think people could be “born” employees just like others are born businessmen and businesswomen – so that some people should just stick to their employment?
I think it’s all about the character, and it all depends. You know, some people are born entrepreneurs I think – because if I look at myself or at my boyfriend – who is a massive entrepreneur and I think he has always been his whole life – he is entrepreneurial in the way that he can make money out of whatever he decides to – and I think this is kind of what a true entrepreneur is.
Is there anything else at also you want to say? I don’t know… you new projects, how the business is going and things like that?
Yes, sure, definitely! I think it’d be great to talk about the fact that we’ve got a new collection launching on the 4th March online. That’s a tropical range, we’ve been working on the background in that, it’s going to be really nice, brightly-coloured rich print swimwear – just showing the public a little bit more of my character. And then we’ve got loads of things coming up, we’ve got collaborations with brands, we’ve got retailers on board now, so yeah, we’ve got a lot going on… I’m just very busy at the moment!
Thank you for the interview Sian, and keep on the great stuff!