A couple of days before my birthday in July I found out Captain Tortue had made the very difficult decision it had to close operations in the UK and Ireland. My boss and the CEO flew to our UK office to help me deliver the devastating news - not my best birthday ever having to make my team and the office team redundant and tell the independent consultants they could no longer continue their businesses. It was a distressing and crushing day, yes I know no-one had died but lots of people were hugely affected. CT had been operational in the UK and Ireland for over 10 years, relationships, achievements, fun times, businesses and customers, memories made and incomes were gone or would be forever changed.
As consultants broke the news to their customers everyone said the same - we don't want to lose Captain Tortue clothing ! With Brexit and increasing costs, fuel, skilled labour, sourcing of eco materials , it just isn't feasible for Captain Tortue to continue to operate in our markets, although it continues in Europe. Anyone who has ordered something from Europe and faced the customs bill on delivery will understand. My boss Catherine Fournet was inundated with messages and she came to me with a suggestion. For the CT brands to stay in the UK it would have to be run by a UK team and UK company, the margins are very tight and with the economy looking 'challenging', it had to be a logical/factual decision, not just one from the heart. (If it had been a simple heart decision it would have been an immediate and easy big YES!) So off I went to see 'the Accountant' to whom I will be forever grateful. 'It's interesting' was his response, let's set you up a company just in case and go get me more info. The research started, Catherine helped along with Sandrine from CT finance and two weeks later we signed an exclusive license agreement! At the start of the discussion I consulted with 3 of the top sellers, Michelle Kovacs, Amelia Taylor and Sophie Beddow - did they think we could make it work and importantly did they want to make it work - YES! So next we formed a team and picked a bunch of super lovely, kind, skilled and just downright positively wonderful people - Alison Falconer, Ruth Sweeten Dewhurst, Sue Marsh, Caroline Tait, Lisa Yelland, Lisa Sinfield, Karen Savage, Emma Wilcox, Alison Mcrae, Sharon Miller, Lizzie Phillips, Angela Yorke, Susan Mannion all said yes we're in! The Dream team was briefed on the challenge ahead and the vision of Tortue Limited and so the team was formed and then Sarah Wagstaff-Till and Jennifer Campbell contacted me and the Dream Team got even better!
So we're all on a big learning curve, we all know we have to work very hard to make Tortue Ltd a viable business, we can only do it altogether. We know ultimately the numbers have to add up, but we are prepared to work for it to continue doing what we love - selling gorgeous clothes to lovely customers and helping people feel fab in what they wear. The start of this story wouldn't be complete without a mention again to my fab Accountant Julian (and his wife who is now of course wearing CT and telling everyone she meets all about us!) and to Aurelie my other new best friend who is the Logistics Assistant for Captain in Aix and who has had endless patience with me while I've learned all about how complicated it is to move 26 boxes from a warehouse in Aix to my little warehouse space in Southampton.
So if you've read this far thankyou! Please stay in touch - we are planning on making this a fun adventure and we'd all love your support.
Tortue Ltd Managing Director - the one who picks, packs and posts your gorgeous outfits and accessories to you !! (formally CT Sales Manager).