Welcome to meet the Christy team! This week, we are introducing our Head of Product Development and Category Management, Helena Mead.
What is your background?
I’ve been at Christy for 10 years now and have worked across a variety of different product areas which has meant I’ve had the opportunity to experience lots of different aspects of the business from developing product for top high street names, to working on our iconic Wimbledon towel to being part of the in-house teams working on our three brands – Christy England, Living by Christy and Kingsley. Before I started in product development I worked in homewares buying at Bhs but I always wanted to be involved in the actual product development so I was very fortunate when the opportunity at Christy came along. And even longer ago than that I studied textile design and design history at university so I have always been lucky enough to work in my chosen field.
What is your role at Christy?
Head of Product Development and Category Management.
Tell us about a typical day for you at Christy?
Because my role works across so many areas very few days are the same. Not only do I work with the design and product development teams, but I also work closely with sourcing, marketing, merchandising, supply and our sales teams. A typical day could involve anything from a development meeting with the design and pd teams, phone calls and meetings with suppliers, a strategy meeting with the sales team, tradeshow preparation with the marketing team and a collection sign off with all departments.
What’s the best thing about working at Christy?
The people, the product and the heritage. I’m part of a brilliant team who support each other through good times and tough times, and make each other laugh pretty much every day. We get to develop great product ranges across all our brands, and through careful product sourcing we can be confident that not only are we developing great quality product but it is sourced responsibly ensuring the environment and the people making the product are respected and protected at all times. Lastly, it’s great to work with a brand with so much history. It’s our 170 year anniversary this year and it’s satisfying to know we are still producing homewares to be proud of in the same city that it started in all those years ago.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
It is always rewarding to see our product in the press, on-line or even in TV shows such as home make over programs and even Downton Abbey, and it is always good to see any collection signed off and launched after all the hardwork that goes into designing and developing the range by the team.
What is your favourite Christy product and why?
That’s a tricky one – I can’t choose just one! Our Jaipur accessories are really soft and cosy and come in a gorgeous range of colours. And I love the colours and textures of our Brixton and Carnaby Stripe towels and Fina mats – all of which have I have at home.
What is your favourite quote/book/podcast?
I enjoy the Mary Portas and Desert Island Discs podcasts. Mary Portas and Lauren Laverne are inspirational in their own right and they interview really interesting and inspiring people across the business and cultural sectors. I read a lot but am hopeless at remembering names and authors. At the moment, having moved fairly recently most of what I read is to do with garden planning and decorating.
What is your hidden talent?
Er, I don’t think I’ve discovered it yet? Perhaps, that I used to be grade 8 cello and piano when I was younger and can just about remember the Elgar cello concerto, although I’m a bit rusty these days.
When you are not at Christy, what is your favourite thing to do?
At the moment, whilst we’re on lock down, it is spending time with my family when I’ve finished working – walking, film nights, trying to home school with my daughter. I also like to garden, run and do yoga to relax. In normal times I enjoy pretty much the same things – just without getting my head round how to teach phonics – plus going to the cinema, galleries and out for food and drink with friends and family.
Who inspires you?
From a work and business point of view, Mary Portas. Her book, “Work Like A Woman” is really inspiring and she talks a lot of sense when it comes to the world of work and to communicating and working with those around us. Also anyone who has the confidence to stand up and make a stand for the environment and for human rights. For such young women, Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai aren’t held back by worrying about what others will think and have had a huge impact in their respective areas. Oh and David Attenborough, who is simply a living legend.
If you were stranded on a desert island what would be your 3 luxury items?
Anything I can listen to listen to music on. Sunglasses and sunhat – are they a luxury or an essential? An outdoor survival book, and if the sunglasses and sunhat aren’t a luxury a Christy Cabana beach towel.
What’s your favourite desk snack/drink?
My team would say flap jacks and cookies from the canteen, obviously chocolate, and I’m known for grazing throughout the day so I also normally have fruit and nuts squirreled away too, plus water and several cups of tea.
Are you a morning person or night owl?
I think I am a late morning person these days! It takes me a while to wake up in the morning but equally I am definitely not a night owl!
Join us for our Meet the Christy Team Q&A next week where we will be introducing Amanda King, the Christy Visual Merchandiser.