Janus Cooper – Managing Director of Tetrad – is chomping at the bit. He tells us the company’s 200 employees – currently furloughed – are ‘understanding’ of the current situation, but everybody wants to ‘get back and get stuck in.’
Tetrad (named for its four founding partners, including his father and uncle) began in 1968. They began making furniture in chenille and leather, unusual and innovative fabrics at the time. ‘They were ahead of the game in everything,’ says Janus, ‘very creative’ people who understood the times and the fashion (and enjoyed the parties!) but who were practical too: snapping up factory space in Lancashire.
According to Janus, he entered the business himself ‘more by luck than by judgement’, but his enthusiasm is evident, even down the line. He is speaking to us on a dog walk with his boisterous spaniel – one way to burn off energy!
This is not the first time that Tetrad has had to rise to the challenge. A defining moment came eight years ago, when the company was going through a tough period, and they were at a Maison&Objet show in Paris.
‘A mate asked if he could dump his jacket on our stand.’ It was made from Harris Tweed® cloth, ‘and not a new jacket. It must have dated to the 60s.’ Something about the quality and its label spoke to them. ‘It was just right for our brand.’
Janus had been to the Outer Hebrides a few years before on an ‘horrendous’ sailing trip. (We know that the islands’ stormy waters are not always kind to sailors.) This time they flew up to the island where they were met and hosted by Lorna Macaulay, Harris Tweed Authority CEO. She introduced the team to the three island mills (and made time to take in a few of the island sites and beaches en-route). From this visit, Tetrad established a relationship with Harris Tweed Hebrides.
Now they work every year with the island mill. ‘It’s a great relationship. We share trends in fashion and furniture. Buying furniture is a longer term choice, so classic weaves and herringbones are always popular.’
And did it work – using Harris Tweed® cloth?
‘It transformed our business,’ says Janus emphatically, ‘It just flew.’
And what about him? Which are his favourites from the new range? The answer is in his home. The photos he sends are of his very own Aberlour chair and sofa. They are understated statement pieces, quiet show-offs, elegant in grey and rich in brown in their chosen Macallan Harris Tweed® check. What better way to sit out self-isolation than in a chair like this?
The more we hear about the workings of Tetrad, the less its success seems to do with luck. Clearly, for them great judgement goes hand-in-hand with great ‘luck’.
Browse the Tetrad Harris Tweed® collection: