Hello all and welcome to another instalment of our Proper People blog. This month we have decided to feature Ribble Valley native, Robyn Isherwood. Event consultant, festival director and LANX boot wearer.
July has been a promising month here at LANX. As I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s been a welcome sight to see lockdown restrictions ease and the UK at last opening back up. The sun has graced us with its presence and the LANX Shoe Shed has had a busy July travelling up and down the country to various events and festivals, meeting customers old and new. Life almost feels, dare we say it, “normal”. A year ago, however, this was a very different case…
Rewind to July 2020: The UK was amidst a global pandemic, lockdown restrictions were firm and limited to “bubbles” of no more than 6. Every event, concert and festival was cancelled for the foreseeable future. While it may now seem like a distant, disturbing dream, at one point the only sources of entertainment were: banana bread baking, awkward Zoom quizzes, or a Joe Wickes workout.
Just when it looked like summer 2020 was cancelled, the UK’s first socially-distanced festival launched! Gisburne Park Pop Up offered live music, table-service food and drinks, plus private glamping - all within the Covid-safe guidelines. And, as luck would have it, all this happened to be just down the road from the LANX HQ. Located in a thousand-acre Ribble Valley estate, the festival hosted a line-up of ticketed events spanning the summer, and was regularly attended by the LANX staff. It was here that we got chatting to the event’s founder, Robyn Isherwood.
Lancashire born and bred, Robyn tells us she had a passion for events and hospitality from a young age. Her dad ran the local Rugby club, and she remembers as a teen trying to take charge of the bar and rearrange the place: “I knew that I wasn’t really allowed back there, but I was so determined to make it work and my love for the hospitality industry just grew and grew from there!”. During this time Robyn also planned two local sixth form proms and a number of new year’s eve parties, knowing that her future lay in events.
Leaving the rolling hills of the Ribble Valley behind, Robyn went on to study International Hospitality Management at Oxford Brookes University, as well as doing a placement year at the Admirable Crichton in London.
“From there it just went up and up. The roles got bigger and the events got bigger!”.
Photo credit: Lillingston
After various roles in and around London, Robyn decided to set-up her own events, travel and concierge business: Encore Lifestyle. Despite its initial success, Encore was no match for the abominable year of 2020. As many a business owner can relate, her industry was hit hard by the pandemic, and so Robyn packed her bags and returned up North to stay with her parents during lockdown. The intended month’s stay quickly turned into a year, but while many people were busy stock-piling and Netflix-binging, Robyn was hard at work developing and launching the first festival of its kind: Gisburne Park Pop Up.
An outdoor, table-serviced festival was an unheard-of concept at the time, for which Gisburne Park was acclaimed globally - picking up headlines in Forbes, The Times, and The New York Times, to name a few. Not a bad feat for a Lancashire lass! The success of the summer line-up led on to a variety of ticketed winter events, including drive-in fireworks nights, socially-distanced Santa’s grottos and drive-in pantomimes. With 2021 came another lockdown, but for Robyn came the launch of a second business: The Estate Festival. Much like Gisburne Park, the socially-distanced concept remained the same but in a new location down South and on a bigger scale, boasting a 70-tent glamping village.
Now back in London, Robyn is focusing again on her business, Encore Lifestyle. One day arranging private events for high-net-worth clients from her Soho House office, the next stomping through muddy festival fields on-site in Lancashire and Bedford. It was this contrast of city life and countryside living that we found fit the LANX profile so well. Since first launching back in 2018, our ethos has always been: “For the boardroom to the bar”; in short, we make business-casual footwear in which to look good in for any occasion. It was during the research stage of our AW21 women’s range that we invited Robyn to come on board and help with the development of the collection. As we considered this to be our first proper women’s range, we were determined to take our time and get it right, approaching a number of different women along the way to critique the range and offer their opinions on the styles. Robyn’s input was invaluable throughout the development of the range, playing a key role in how you see the styles today.
After many months deliberating over design and fitting, at last came the fun part - testing. A firm favourite for Robyn throughout the process was the Dinckley Sand boot, and so this was the lucky style first to be road-tested. Reporting back, Robyn told us:
“Considering I was wearing them brand new and out walking in excess of 20,000 steps a day they were amazing! You can feel the quality when you put the boots on. You can feel that they are going to last, the soles especially. And they really do withstand everything - one of my sites flooded and they were fine! They also cleaned down perfectly.”
“We took a variety of styles to the Gisburn Park event in May and loved styling them with different outfits. Testing out both how they worked and looked. Everyone loved them and I had most of the girls asking me when they were launching! They’re a really great range and I can’t wait to see where LANX can take the brand with them and develop more versions and more ranges. I’ve loved being involved!”
The AW21 women’s collection is available now online and in our Whalley Warehouse Shop: lanxshoes.com/collections/womens-footwear