What screams luxury more than the smell of good quality leather on board a superyacht? Elizabeth Finch-Moore, managing director at Pemberton & Milner took the time to speak to Yachting Pages about their recent work.
When was your business founded? How did it come about?
I founded Pemberton & Milner Bespoke Leather Smiths in 2010, with Helen Mason-Belshaw joining in 2011. Having both previously been board directors of a luxury goods firm, the move to our own was a natural one. The significant difference was to make Pemberton & Milner a wholly bespoke entity with an incredibly strong focus not just on the product, but also on the customer service - personal and appointment only.
Collaborating with the client and guiding them to the best solution with our years of experience is not only great practice, but also can be a fun journey. Understanding that sometimes the little things are just as important, if not more so, is key. The experience of being in grand or chic surroundings can be undone if the smallest item does not live up to expectations. It's wonderful to get such great feedback or watch a clients' face light up when they have their bespoke item in their hands - a superb feeling.
In your own words how would you describe your business? How has it developed over the years?
We are a boutique business with a finite capacity within our workshop to produce luxury items each year. We are the antithesis of mass market, but with a keen eye on project affordability. Delivering a product that really fits with our clients’ wishes is key, whether that is a one-off game, small collection of items for an on-board bar, or a much larger undertaking that ties in multiple skills; we match the experience for everyone.
What makes you different from your competitors?
We mix the traditional with the contemporary; material advances and finishing techniques are constantly moving forward and we embrace that. We marry the progressive with a traditional skill base, never losing the luxury handmade element and never shaving the time it takes to produce a piece. We are unique in our truly bespoke standing, we can work from basic client sketches - once even from a drawing that was presented on a napkin!
Are you working on any new developments at the moment?
Currently we are working on a niche travel jewel box collection, listening to clients specific needs, we aim to produce a lightweight but formidable set that will take pride of place in any cabin or sit neatly within a safe.
What are the biggest challenges that you face in the superyacht industry at the moment?
The biggest luxury in life is time. It's also our biggest challenge within bespoke goods. Differing time zones and tannery shutdowns in Europe through August can sometimes add to this, however we are a resourceful bunch and have been known to fly into a tannery and fly back to the UK on the same day just to secure the right leather for a forthcoming project.
How is business? How have you been affected by the recession?
We have been fairly lucky, we set up during a recession and have managed to build the business through entering new markets whilst maximising client retention - especially in the boutique hotel sector.
What are your top tips in your industry?
Keep it simple and go for the best leathers you can on the budget you have. It is a false economy to buy lots of inexpensive items; a well thought out interior will require specific accessories to add to the owner’s or guest’s experience. Menu covers are the perfect illustration, chic well made, hand embossed and in a tactile leather will ooze luxury rather than functionality. All of our leathers, in the main, are already used in the superyacht, luxury automobile and private jet sector and as such live up to the same durability requirements.
What is the most bizarre client request you’ve received?
It was for a "bespoke toy box" with very specific dimensions and materials. The brief also included a bespoke paddle... More 50 Shades of Grey than for a canoe or board!! Yes, we made both.
What are the current trends in your sector at the moment?
Colour trends are fairly set within the creams, biscuit and ecrus of the spectrum, with flashes of colour coming into play on larger pieces. Design trends vary quite wildly depending on the client, either sleek, functional and tactile or ultra-glam with fashion detailing and made in bold statement colours. Ultimately the focus is on experience and the trend is to constantly push this to the next level.
What superyachts/big clients have you worked with that you can share?
Discretion is key in our business, we have worked on some exceptional projects on land and sea. Our clients are from all walks of life, but share one common element - they want something unique and inherently personal to them. Pemberton & Milner gives them the opportunity to fully explore their creative side whilst maintaining the elegance that is British handmade leather goods.
Who would be your dream client?
There is no ultimate client as such, each new project we work on has been as fulfilling as the last. We have met some really interesting people in our work with the superyacht industry from interior designers to crew, who always have a pressure-led life and we like to alleviate some of that.