Meet Archie Hewlett: The young Entrepreneur behind ‘Duke & Dexter‘
Archie Hewlett, the entrepreneur isn’t like any other young adult spending their days in a lecturing hall and nights out partying. No at 18 years of age, before starting a psychology degree at the University of Durham, Hewlett decided his heart wasn’t with psychology but with design. So he took a giant leap, taking out a £9,000 loan to start his successful business, Duke & Dexter (he was definitely no ‘ordinary’ teen!).
Hewlett was attending a black tie event when he realised he was in need of a pair of suitable shoes. He was after a pair of traditional, yet current and contemporary pair of loafers that didn’t cost a fortune yet looked high end and ‘lux’. After getting a bespoke pair made just for him, he was constantly asked by friends where he got them, and where they could get their hands on a pair! After wearing them for a while, Hewlett realised there was a large gap in the market for a good and well designed pair of loafers without the inflated price tag and without sacrificing the quality.
And so with a lot of determination and dedication Archie Hewlett took the plunge and launched Duke & Dexter. A shoe brand selling a range of affordable, contemporary designs for men (and soon women) in a wide range of styles and materials. The brand has accumulated a rather swoon-worthy celebrity clientele such as Ryan Reynolds, Justin Timberlake, Tinie Tempah, Eddie Redmayne (who wore a pair to receive his 2015 Oscar award!) and Poppy Delevingne.
The shoes can be found stocked in Liberty, Fenwick, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Harrods as well as in their new flagship store in Covent Garden.
Hi Archie, introduce yourself!
Hello, my name is Archie Hewlett. I’m 22 years old and the Founder of British footwear label, Duke & Dexter.
What does being a ‘young’ entrepreneur mean to Archie Hewlett ?
I think for people my age, we’ve grown up with an accelerated entrepreneurial mindset due to the development of technology and millennials fluidity of its use. There are now so many tools to develop a product and reach a global audience, which is an amazing opportunity for those with limited starting resources.
From the beginning, we’ve documented everything on our social media channels, especially Instagram. Where we have a worldwide and diverse audience (over 229,000 followers) who can follow the story of the brand and our growth. I think in this sense I am a breed of the ‘younger’ entrepreneur, who have grown up with new tools to really use to our advantage and build successful businesses through new techniques.
Have you always been interested in the creative industries, such as design?
I didn’t come from a fashion or design background. However I did recognise a gap in the market for an affordable yet contemporary loafer which didn’t break the bank.
I tend not to follow dominant fashion trends, rather design for those who are interested in creating their own look. Because of this push towards individuality, I think we have built a very healthy consumer base, who support what we’re doing and our unique approach to the fashion world.
Where do you take your inspiration from?
I gather influence from my travels and then we hand make each shoe at our factory in Sheffield. I always wanted to fuse global inspiration with British charm. By using traditional British craftsmanship, there’s a really nice play on historical talent and contemporary taste.
From Teenage Fan to Collector and Collaborator
What inspired your brand? Why shoes?
I just felt there was nothing on the market which wasn’t a cheap imitation of an existing luxury brand, or the brand itself which held an inflated price-tag. I wanted to create something for the contemporary man who values quality, comfort and style, at a fair price.
It can be daunting going into such a competitive industry so young, how did you choose who to associate with and who to say no to?
We’re still a relatively small company so in respect to limitations and company guidelines, we’re fairly relaxed. If it’s an interesting project and well-aligned with our core brand values, we can always find a creative angle. We don’t take anyone actively supporting the label for granted, so do our best to use all opportunities given.
You’ve had some big names wearing your shoes to big events, who is your ideal/dream customer?
Our dream customer is someone who really appreciates what we’re doing. We are so competitive in house to ensure we’re the best in every department. Our dream customer would take the time to really appreciate what we’re doing. From the creation of the product, to the customer service and general team dedication. Our company has goals which far exceed making profit. We want to make something exceptional which has a story and I do feel our supporters really know that.
You decided against a University education in order to pursue your company, any regrets?
Honestly? No regrets. I rarely switch off and it would be nice to be carefree for a bit. I think my friends assume with running your own company its constant lie ins and early finishes, but it’s incredibly hard work. Late nights and no lazy Mondays. However, I’m in a unique position and know I’m incredibly lucky to have broken through into one of the most competitive industries, so take nothing for granted.
You’ve just recently opened a flagship store in Covent Garden, what’s next for Duke & Dexter?
After the success of the London flagship store, we’re actively pursuing to open our next store location, likely to be in the USA.
I’m also delighted to confirm we will be launching our Women’s collection later this year.
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