Shaper: Oliver Tress

Show aired on 18th February 2017


Oliver Tress

Oliver Tress is the Founder and Managing Director of independent British lifestyle retailer, Oliver Bonas. Having left university with an Anthropology degree, at the age of 25 he opened the first Oliver Bonas store on London’s Fulham Road, bringing together homeware, accessories and jewellery he had found in the Far East, the UK and Europe. Olly’s inspiration for Oliver Bonas, and his love of design, came from his childhood travels and living in different countries across the world.

There are now 59 stores across the UK, as well as an online store. Today, Olly is still at Oliver Bonas and is as committed to design as ever, helped out by an amazing team who share his passion for bringing new ideas to life. They have fun and follow their company motto: ‘Work Hard, Play Hard & Be Kind.’

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Follow Oliver Bonas James on Twitter @OliverBonas.

“Let’s be clear about this – and any of my friends listening can confirm – I am not an academic person and I wasn’t one of the world’s great anthropologists…”

“I am interested in human behaviour and I am interested in the ideas that humans share regardless of where they are from.”

“I had no idea about business and just thought it was something quite easy to do – and had no idea of all the intricacies, so it was actually very painful. The first few years were tough.”

“I was very driven and I think you really need that as someone who is starting their own business. If you haven’t got an incredibly tense sense of wanting to achieve something, I think most people would fall by the wayside.”

“I think people who know me now, they laugh, they joke about the fact that Ollie will change his mind but they know they can absorb that and quite often make me change my mind back to my original decision without me noticing.”

“You can’t take the general climate for granted and things can change dramatically and in such a way that…you could really find that your business can’t survive.”

“I kind of love the fact that it is not about me at all really now…it’s very much about the group and really they are driving the aesthetic and I am sort of a passenger who happens to be somewhere near the steering wheel.”