Shaper: Howard Harrison

Show aired on 19th August 2017


Howard Harrison

Previously a lawyer in South Africa and and investment banker in London, New York and Zurich, Howard quit corporate life 13 years ago to found Knomo. He was frustrated with commutting and long office hours and didn’t want life behind a desk to his narrative for the rest of his career.

Knomo is a brand focused on creating perfect accessories such as beautiful and functional laptop backpacks; travel bags; phone cases; and tablet covers. Knomo products are now sold all around the world via and into more than 1,500 retailers in over 40 countries. Knomo is currently opening its second store in Covent Garden. The brand’s mission statement is “Life organised to LIVE FREE” and is focused on inspiring people to do the unconventional and seek freedom in their lives.

Howard comes from South Africa and lives in London. Prior to Knomo Howard was a lawyer in South Africa and an Investment Banker in London, New York and Switzerland. He holds an MBA from Insead.

Follow Howard on Twitter @howardmharrison.

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I guess I was dissatisfied in a corporate life and quite frustrated at the end of it and so that’s what gave me the inspiration to start Knomo.

I like to tell myself that all those years that I invested were well spent. I am not sure that’s the case.

Often businesses start with an itch where you have a personal need and you think, ‘I can do something better’.

We found a local designer who created some product for us, and the product looked ugly. You couldn’t flog it for a tenner at a flea market.

In 2008, many people left corporate lifestyles and found their own personal freedom, and Knomo is about that. I see this whole economic change as really being a catalyst for what will help us drive the brand.

If you could lead a life that is much more free and flexible I think you’ll be a happier person at the end of the day. So for us the aspiration is to become a brand that is about adventure, but an adventure in an everyday life.

There’s no way you can be successful as an entrepreneur without wanting it. My exterior may be calm but I am incredibly deliberate in everything I do.

I’ve done many ultra-marathons or long sporting events which take a lot of discipline and take a lot of preparation and that’s what business is about. It’s about preparation and putting in the hours.

The ambition we have is less about a revenue number or a profit number and more about creating a long lasting brand that people will buy into and love and see real value in.