My father was a shoemaker, but I didn’t go straight into shoes. I initially worked in structural engineering, but the recession in the mid-80s bit the construction industry quite deep. My father suggested I get into his trade and I subsequently went to cordwainers in Hackney on a handmade shoemaking course. I went on to get an apprenticeship with John Lobb and also worked at my father’s shop a little bit. I soon found work as a freelance shoemaker, making handmade bespoke shoes for the London houses.

It was during this period I met my now business partner Tony (Gaziano) whilst he was working at Cleverley’s. We soon decided to launch our own company, figuring with my shoemaking skills and his design skills we could make something of a brand. Opening Gaziano & Girling ten years ago, in 2006.

We’ve always had a retail space on Savile Row, initially sharing an address with bespoke tailors Chittleborough & Morgan, we opened our current 39 Savile Row store around two and a half years ago. Growing the business from nothing to where we are today, we now have an overall workforce of about 25 and are aiming to open more retail stores globally – we’re currently looking at Hong Kong for instance.

I’m still very involved with the production side of the business and live near our Kettering factory in Norwich. I split my working week between the factory and our London store. Most of the time I’ll come to London in a suit, whereas in the factory I’m a little more casual: jeans, a shirt and more casual shoes (still G&G, of course).

In terms of watches, I’ve got a few Rolexes and a Breitling. My everyday watch is a stainless steel Rolex Submariner. My first watch was also a Rolex actually, it was a GMT II that I bought aged around 19. I wish I’d kept it in retrospect. I tend to gravitate towards Rolex, they’re classic and quite frankly are also money in the bank. I do keep looking at other watches though. I like Franck Muller and keep thinking about getting one in rose gold.

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