An interview with Cedric Stonex... the first in a series of interviews with the people who make Chapman.
Chapman as an idea originated in the provision of bags to sportsmen, fishing on the great Salmon rivers of the North. As favourite and indispensable bags, Chapman was soon found in town as well as country, and the fame of the brand has grown ever since. So, as we settle down for our chat, we are unsurprisingly discussing the relative merits of town versus country.
Cedric’s view.... For me as a businessman work is town, but my heart will always be in the country, not least because I married a vet who specialises in all things equine.
With a love of the countryside Cedric has always been passionate about sustainability. I started my career in renewables building solar farms, but then I got the bag bug.
This change of direction is less extraordinary than might seem the case. First, I love the utility of Chapman bags. In their field sports world, they had to be practical light and durable, and that translates brilliantly into everyday life. So, one bag in your life can do the job of many. And the fact that they were exactly that, a bag for life, makes them pretty good in the context of my interest in sustainability.
Cedric explains, the key is that Chapmans are brilliantly made. Their longevity and customer loyalty stands testament to that. I remember as a child telling my parents that I wanted to own a shop called The Well-Made Company, and if that had ever happened, I’m sure Chapman would have been in the window.
Running Chapman sounds like your perfect job....I was fortunate enough to get a job at Chapman, in fact I’ve done many of the jobs at Chapman and when the opportunity came along to buy the business, I knew this was it for me.
I’d read about the Arts and Crafts movement at school and I saw its ideals of functional design and creative craftsmanship embodied in Chapman and the people who work here.
And for Cedric it’s not just the people who make the bags, it’s the people who make the company. They were a really important part of my decision to try and rebuild the business. Working at Chapman means joining a family, many of whom have been with the business for years. It takes a long time to learn your craft and respecting those skills is a fundamental part of what we do here.
Time, the time it takes to learn the craft, the time it takes to make a Chapman and the lifetimes use and pleasure you will get from it are recurring themes in our conversation.
That’s how we hit upon the idea for our new hourglass logo. Its emblematic of the fact that it takes time to create something timeless, and that’s what we do at Chapman.
Chapman isn’t about fashion is it?... That’s because the beauty we see in our products comes from their purpose not just their form, so we’ll never be doing seasonal collections, that’s not the point. But nor are we old fashioned, look at our new backpacks and washbags, we just aim to be timeless, always useful not always fashionable.
As we close its clear that Cedric is the very opposite of a young man in a hurry. He is taking time to do the job of rebuilding and growing Chapman into a practical luxury brand properly. And that diligent approach will be a quality time will admire.