Interview with the Berkshire founder of Scamp & Dude
PUBLISHED: 15:41 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:41 03 January 2020
After undergoing life-saving surgery, Jo Tutchener-Sharp wanted to give something back, so she launched a collection of superpower-infused products...
"From something dark came something light," says Jo Tutchener-Sharp, who lives in Cookham Dean in Berkshire. Jo was inspired to create Scamp & Dude in 2016 after her life took a difficult turn. "It all started with a terrible headache," she says. "Never in a million years could I have imagined what was to come. Being told I'd suffered a brain haemorrhage and that I had a lump on my brain is something I'll never forget as long as I live.
"Discovering that I would need life-saving brain surgery when my children were only one and three years old was terrifying and the fear of leaving them without a mother was devastating. Facing death gave me an overwhelming need to help other people, so I made myself a pact that if I made it through the surgery, I'd dedicate my life to helping others and giving back."
Jo had to leave her sons for 10 days while she had the surgery, which left her with one side of her head shaved and 20 staples. "I hated being apart from the boys, but there was no way they could see me looking like I did, it would have been too upsetting for them," she says. "The heartache and separation anxiety we all felt inspired the creation of Scamp & Dude. I wanted to create a brand that helps children feel more secure when they're apart from their loved ones. I came up with the name Scamp & Dude after the nicknames of my sons, along with the slogan 'A Superhero has my back', to tell children that someone is watching over them, even when they can't see you."
A Superhero certainly had Jo's back when she recovered from her surgery and Scamp & Dude launched into Liberty London in November 2016, 10 months later. Jo's Superhero Sleep Buddies enable you to tuck a photo of a loved one into the pocket on the back. These animal comforters sit on the bed watching over children while they sleep. Plus, for every one sold, another is donated to a child who has lost a parent, or who is seriously ill themselves. Every item of Scamp & Dude clothing has a special Superpower Button - a signature lightning bolt - to give children a burst of Superpowers when they need it.
Jo went on to open a shop in Highgate, and her Scamp & Dude collection is now also available in Selfridges and John Lewis, as well as Liberty. The brand's leopard and lightning bolt print sweatshirts have become a cult buy. The adults' version has been seen on the likes of Liv Tyler, Emma Willis, Fearne Cotton and Robbie Williams.
"We are also very proud to have collaborated with some amazing brands," Jo says. "We've created a collection of limited-edition leopard and lightning bolt candles, and a kids' Superpower Spray with Soho House brand Cowshed, and we've collaborated with Superga to launch a collection of trainers."
Her Super Scarves, modelled by Billie Piper, are also proving popular. "For every scarf sold, we donate another to a woman with a life-threatening illness, or to the mother of a child who is seriously ill. We want these women to know we are thinking of them, and that we have their back," says Jo.
Scamp & Dude recently launched a limited-edition collection of Swag Bags with Purpose; multi-use zipper bags designed by a host of inspiring collaborators with 100% of the profits from each sale going to a charity close to their hearts.
The line-up includes Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Stacey Solomon, Giovanna Fletcher, Anna Saccone, Style me Sunday's Natalie Lee, The Fashionable Pan's Debbie Le and Lauren Laverne, all hand-picked by Jo and all working together to raise money for the diverse charities. Jo says: "As much as I love designing the collections and running campaigns, it's important to me to help others along the way. It's how Scamp & Dude began, and it will always be the most important part of who we are."
Family-wise, the four of them and their cat, Chopper, have moved out of London to Cookham Dean. "We stumbled upon the village, having originally been looking for houses in Marlow - it's a hidden gem," Jo says. "There's an amazing sense of community, with lots going on. We've been enjoying the countryside, the space and the nature; we still get excited seeing red kites, owls and deer in the garden, and there is something calming about being close to the river. I love shopping in Marlow, there is a buzz in the town and great shops. One of our favourite things is walking to the pub on a Friday evening and the boys love walking home with torches! It's idyllic and we keep pinching ourselves that this is where we live."
In 2020, Jo has even bigger goals. "I hope to broaden the collection even more. We have just launched pyjamas, robes and maxi dresses, and are launching swimwear, water bottles and wellies this year," she says. "Another goal is to become more sustainable. We have been working on this a lot this past year, and are launching some weekend bags made from recycled plastic bottles, and our swimwear will also be made from recycled bottles. It's an important issue; something we all must take very seriously.
"Kindness and courage are at the heart of Scamp & Dude, and the aim is to spread our superpowers far and wide to as many people as possible."