Are you worth a King’s Ransom?

Meghan Hamilton-Wilcox and Komali Scott-Jones are the girl bosses behind King’s Ransom London (@kingsransom_ldn), a streetwear brand with a difference. The girls are born and bred Londoners, who first formed a friendship aged 11 at secondary school, and have been inseparable since. The dream is to get to a place where you have total creative freedom, can work with your best pals and inspire others. This is a dream they’ve achieved; all whilst still in their prime. I sat down with the girls at the Mall Tavern in Notting Hill and discussed absolutely everything from being brave to being shortlisted for their first creative prize earlier in 2016.

Komali: Obviously having the friendship element can be challenging because there are times where things are just about business.

Despite sharing a secondary school, sixth form and now a business together, the two girls took two different paths to King’s Ransom. So how did you get here? “I went on to work in production following Sixth Form as a runner and now I am working at an agency where creativity and production are combined.” said Meghan. “My passion for creative production began when I was in college, when I used to bunk off and go on shoots. One of which was a shoot for Converse, which was a turning point for me as it was then I realised production was a potential career path. I realised that I could use my creativity in that environment and also hire my friends and earn them money, and that to me was so fun, as the shoot literally consisted of raving at this amazing location which happened to be a cave, and having our first taste of shoot food. About four of us from the class were ill that day. Komali was one of them. For me that helped inform my decision regarding uni – they were passing out the UCAS forms in class, and i was like erm nah you’re alright. I’ve been working my way up since i was 17 and tried lots of different areas including post production, creative agencies and now i’m at an agency called J. Walter Thompson where we do a mixture of production and creative which is defo where i wanna be. I feel quite lucky to be in this position as i didn’t go to uni. “I went on to study English Literature at University of Middlesex. My parents worked really hard to put me through a really good school, and i’ve always been academic so i felt like university was the final step in the process.” Said Komali. “It is traditionally seen as a hiatus – three formative years where you can find yourself through being wild and doing the whole freshers thing.. I didn’t go for that reason, as i didn’t feel I needed to find myself, I just wanted to work. It’s not necessary to have a degree when you’re working In the creative industries. They do teach the essential things like how to process information, to apply yourself and how to cope with deadlines – which by the way are not just for christmas, they are for life haha.. But they’re definitely not required. You need to have a balance of the hard work too, a degree is not enough for a job as you will still have to do the hard work, like making teas and starting from the bottom. I think if you get that balance, then uni is never a bad thing but if you don’t and you think it’s a doss and don’t actually work out by your last year that it is a real thing then you’ll probably gonna have a hard time haha.”

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Personality is essentially the driving force behind King’s Ransom. Even the models are chosen because of their vibrant personalities, Meghan states, “It’s not just about having a face for our instagram, you’ve got to be invested in the brand and want to work with us” It’s not hard to want to though. The brand has connotations of royalty and generally being rich in life. Meghan continues, “You’ll never have a bland conversation with someone who wears King’s Ransom.” “It’s a natural progression, we wanted something that was purely our ideas, thoughts and feelings and where we can control the direction. The brand itself is built on something i felt was missing.” Said Komali, “There are lots of brands out at the moment and they’re FAD’s. Not to be shady or name any names, but people are wearing slogans that don’t mean anything to them, or point blank at all, across their chests. As consumers we should think whether it’s something you want to represent us as people. We’re not pushing out shit just to push it out. It’s about people like us, who want to mean and make something, and elevating that. Whether you want to be a rapper, singer, an athlete or a mathematician, we support you, as there are more important messages to push out than lip fillers and big bums. Big fake bums.”

Komali on Meghan “Super persuasive, really charismatic and charming when she wants to be. She’s also really caring, considerate and crazily confident. She does think very highly of herself which pans out because others naturally form a high opinion of her.”

Meghan on Komali “Extremely driven. A lot of people are afraid to be in the spotlight or achieve their highest potential, but that is something Komali has never been worried about. 100% she will get the job done if it kills her, and i love that about her.”

Bravery is defined as courageous behaviour or character in Gemma Collins’ favourite book (The Oxford Dictionary). With 2016 officially being the year of change, being brave as an individual within the ‘millenial’ generation is stepping out of the norm, listening to your gut and following your dreams. King’s Ransom’s values are rooted in bravery. Where, the country’s arts budgets are being cut, and creativity is becoming increasingly discouraged in schools, not to forget our current political climate where risks surrounding starting a business are higher than ever – believing in your vision is key. However, bravery is in the eye of the beholder. Komali related, “I’m not sure if i’ve done anything that loads of people don’t do everyday that is overly brave.” “I thought you were brave through choosing to study English at university for the people that you love.” Meghan says, “It wasn’t just a logical decision as obviously it is one of your passions but it was also a selfless act. I’d also say that although many may say, I don’t think starting King’s Ransom was brave, i think it was a very logical, obvious decision. It was quite organic, as it’s something we’ve always wanted to do. What i do think is brave is when someone is emotionally vulnerable – i admire that a lot in people when they put their emotions on the table. I think bravery is seen as these big amazing milestones when in daily life it’s actually the small things that matter. Like telling someone you love them, or that you’re worried about them. It’s simply not being selfish.”

The face of fashion is constantly in a state of change, with young entrepreneurs starting brands that allow it to be easy to identify with as opposed to your usual topshop and other stories. The message of a brand is now as important, if not more important, than the clothes themselves, as it allows consumers to feel more connected with the brand. This is why starting a brand is seen as such an exciting concept. Being allowed to potentially disrupt the status quo visually is a target one and all want to meet. So what are the key pointers to starting your own brand? “To be bleak, don’t think it’s a doss. Like i’m just gonna put something on a t-shirt, and it’s gonna be really easy because it’s not. It’s fucking hard work and it takes over. Start a creative instagram if you want something light-hearted because starting a brand is not. It’s a huge commitment of time and money.” Komali begins. “You have to be ballsy, make sure your brand’s ethics match yours and don’t ever apologise for what you want in life. Always be nice and respectful but understand that you are in charge.” Meghan continues. Like most creatives, the girls run Kings Ransom as well as having a day job, with Komali working as a Junior Booker at Premier Hair and Make Up, and Meghan as a Production Assistant at J. Walter Thompson. Which obviously isn’t easy. With there being no option to drop the ball at any time, it makes making it all happen all the more harder but in turn so rewarding. “I feel like it’s just about finding time to fit in what you love. Anyone who says i am so busy i couldn’t pick up the phone or can’t make time: a) thinks too much of themselves; or b) can’t function in life. There is definitely no consistent time when me and Komali will leave work, so we have to work on King’s Ransom in the morning, wherever we can really” says Meghan. “There are times when it feels quite harsh, like you wake up and work, go to sleep and work – this is usually the case when there is a big project on, but we try to be as on it as we can, and find time to fit fun things around that. I mean it is tiring to work sometimes, but i literally love production on a nerdy level so it’s fine.”

Meghan: Some of the time as a young person you won’t be in charge of your career. We can feel massively frustrated at work as you won’t always be given the opportunities you feel you deserve.”

As of 2006, according to research conducted by the Cambridge department of Technology, only a fifth of the UK’s annual consumption of clothing was manufactured here in the UK. With London being home to some of the world’s best fashion education institutions, it is so important to support British talent, as there is so much of it, and it is more economical to buy via the UK. Sustainability is at the heart of King’s Ransom, as it should be at the heart of every brand – don’t you think? “As a brand it is so important to us to remain conscious of it. All our stuff so far has been made here, which reduces air miles and we keep a track of our carbon footprint it and the effect the products have on the world. It’s all good running around taking photo’s etc, but if you killed a rainforest just because you brought out a t-shirt it’s not worth it!” Meghan highlights, “I think that we must all remember that we are here for a short period of time, i mean hopefully the brand will live on as a legacy but the world is here even longer than that and we have to remember that. Your great great granddaughter will still be rocking King’s Ransom but if they cannot breathe clean air then what is the point.”

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Members of the King’s Ransom Community are all striving for greatness within their daily lives and supporting one another, helping them to reach their goals. What is the best thing about being young and creative in London? “You can be out at completely different events, on completely different scenes, meeting completely different people 7 nights of the week… It feels endless here.” says Komali “There is no excuse for you to not be in the right place meeting the right people to help actualise your dreams. It’s so amazing to be in the city where so many different movements have been born like for example music genres from punk to grime. There’s just so much history, and you don’t have to watch it through your phone screen or google it – you can actually live it and i think that’s one of the biggest influences. It’s definitely shaped me.” “There are 8.7 million people in our London bubble. A lot of the time in society, people cut themselves off and don’t learn about each other’s cultures but in London you have no choice.” continues Meghan “There’s foreign food, colour and smells everywhere – it’s impossible to be ignorant. Like if you are ignorant in London, you have specifically chosen to and you are a special person. You’ve been given every opportunity to not be a dickhead, and here you are being a textbook dickhead. Londoners have an understanding – a love, an appreciation for difference. I feel like our generation as a whole has woken up to it more, there’s been an increase in the feel of community.”

Meghan: “You’ve been given every opportunity not to be but here you are being a textbook dickhead.”

In February this year, during a conversation with two American friends, Great Britain was described with admiration for our opportunities for young creative people in our cohesive society, which is sad because that’s no longer the picture that comes to mind when you think of GB. On June 24th 2016, we were all shocked by a result that no one saw coming. The UK voted to leave the EU in a referendum that was brought into existence, non-ironically, by a self-serving politician who didn’t see the possible consequences of his actions. On a recent trip to Copenhagen, a Danish man heckled “it’s your fault Trump is here!” When we informed him that it was in fact not our fault, as we were British, he responded with Ah, you guys voted for Boris. In the land of the Danes, a nation famed for its peaceful communities and Hyyge, it was not what we expected. But it affects us all. How do you feel about Brexit? “Well, i think we may of just covered that with the dickhead response! I think there was a lot of misinformation. The main things are that, firstly, here in London, 59.9% of the vote was Remain, and also that our generation mostly voted to remain.” highlights Meghan, “I was working with a creative the other day and he said the best projects he’s ever worked on are where the older people look after the logistics and make sure everything is running and the younger people are there to inspire and give energy. And that’s what we should be doing.” “[Komali]: I think the result was a joke. The worst thing is that it fed into sadly the inherent, and now quite covert, racism and xenophobia that exists in this country. It was a poorly run campaign, with both sides both failing to give the true realities of what a result for either side would be like.” continues Komali, “Personally, it’s going to be a nightmare when we do finally leave, as at work i have artist’s i have to get to Paris at a day’s notice, and, practically, when there’s the possibility of travel becoming less easy so close by it doesn’t make sense. I’m sure we’ll adapt as we always do. Also, all these f**kers stepping down as soon as the sh*t hits the fan, it doesn’t fill you with confidence does it. Hopefully it won’t be as brutal as everyone is saying it is going to be but i’m not too hopeful.”

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Moving forward in 2017, “we’re just concentrating on designing our new collection. It’s a long process of finding the right fabrics, getting every last detail correct.” Komali continues “I don’t wanna keep trotting out stuff that is available from like five different labels, it is more about producing stuff i want that I can’t find which in theory is quite difficult as what you’d want to curate your vision is not available everywhere. It sometimes feels like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall.” “We have recently released our limited edition bomber jacket which i am incredibly proud of.” said Meghan “It’s an MA1 Flight Jacket but we’ve renamed it the MK1, because of ‘Meghan and Komali’ but also in memory of my Uncle who passed away, and was very influential to me and educated me about the history of fashion, about why the reasons behind designs of the MA1 and its functionality.” Originally, the MA1 bomber was originally lined with a fluorescent orange as when air service men hit the water they could turn their jackets inside out so that when planes flew over during the war they could see them and weren’t stranded. And secondly, it’s also suitable for wear in sub zero, -15 to be exact temperatures. “We do like to take our time with stuff and have a consistent work rate. If something doesn’t fit with our brand, it won’t go out. It’s about quality and not quantity.” concludes Meghan. And that is what it’s all about for Kings Ransom; being the one amongst many.

KR recommends:

Kate Cutler: @bangbangnails – Manicurist, signed to Premier Hair and Make Up

Vinn: @darkhorsevinn – Photographer

Chidera: @theslumflower – Blogger

Nyanza D: @nyanzad_, http://nyanzad.tumblr.com – 21 year old illustrator from London.

Hamish Stephenson: @hamishajs – Film maker and photographer based in London. Represented by DMB Represents.

Keep up with the KR Girls on: 

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