Following in Richard Branson's wake at Clarke's Interiors
1st December 2011
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Roger Clarke has always been in retail. He began with a Jewellers store in Richmond but a dangerous situation involving a gun being pointed to his head meant that he preferred the safer profession of supplying beautifully crafted furniture to local communities, after all, he explains tongue in cheek, he’s “a lover not a fighter”.

Interior design still met with his passion for “beautiful things” and at one point he had three stores: in Esher, Wimbledon and Chiswick. However, he prefers the less frenetic pace of a single store these days which he runs with his partner Suzi and store manager, Rebecca Wheatley.

Suzi’s first passion was hairdressing which she excelled at even though it wasn’t really the done thing. She won the L’Oreal Trophy one year which she remembers to be the height of “show biz glamour”.

However, when she reached her 30’s she decided to change career and trained as a teacher which she found “more meaningful”. She worked in Camberley training 16-19 year olds with special needs, helping them to make the transition into adulthood.

It was a tough job but she persevered for 20 years before joining Roger and Becky at the store. Suzi has recently introduced an upmarket range of tableware, photo frames, hand-made cards, gift wrap, Christmas decorations and much, much more.

Becky joined Clarke’s about 10 years ago when she was looking for a temporary job having left British Airways. However, she liked it so much, she stayed! She says there is a “unique family atmosphere” at Clarkes and she loves the contemporary furniture, fur throws and unique range of lighting options. She now has a 4 year old daughter who loves to tell her friends that her mum sells “sparkly, shiny things”. Roger happily admits that Becky runs the show. However, life was not always smooth sailing!

As a teenager, Roger chanced upon an advert in a newspaper for a “boy” to help man a 42 foot ketch which was setting sail across the Atlantic. The ad had been placed by Captain Chay Blythe, trained by none other than Neville Wood. Roger jumped at the opportunity and soon the pair set sail from Exmouth and headed across The Pond towards Miami marina. Upon arrival, the two parted ways and Roger continued his adventure hitch-hiking across America to Mexico!

The staff list wouldn’t be complete without Ellie, Clarkes famous German Short-haired Pointer. People regularly pop in just to see her, children stop by on their way back from school, and new customers admire how her colouring complements the glamorous furniture! She loves to ‘show’ customers around, have her tummy tickled and generally join in the fun.

© thebestofesher, 2011

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Ruby I

Member since: 9th July 2012

I run thebestof Esher and I'm passionate about local businesses and charities that provide a valuable service to the local community. If you know any good news stories or you'd like to write for us, contact...

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