Sarah Simpson is a lawyer focused on technology at Taylor Vinters, London. It was while presenting at the inaugural FashTech conference in London that we happened to meet this incredible woman. Having taken a great interest in Brooke's presentation, Sarah met Brooke after the event. Since then she has become our go to person for all things legal within the creative and technology realms. Always professional and open minded, she has become an invaluable member of the team and we were overjoyed when she agreed to not only star in a photo shoot at the Taylor Vinters office at Tower 42, but also agreed to be interviewed for our blog.
We met up with Sarah at Tower 42 in London for the shoot and styled Sarah in our Maurits dress. Below you'll find our conversation with her where she discusses her career, her personal style and gives advice to those seeking a similar career.
BROOKE ROBERTS: WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK?
SARAH SIMPSON: I was really interested in law from an early age. My parents’ friends are lawyers and I’ve always looked up to them. At the age of 15 (such a long time ago!) I was lucky enough to go on work experience at one of their firms, Watson Ramsbottom in Blackburn. I really enjoyed the experience, but it was totally different from my current role. I mainly worked in their family law department, but after going to university and studying at law school, I found I had a greater interest in the commercial/corporate side of the law, rather than family law. Before I went to university I did almost change route after developing a passion for fine art and fashion design, but rather than pursue a career in fashion I decided to stick with my original plan and follow my dream of becoming a lawyer. I’m lucky that I now have the best of both worlds and can combine both interests by advising amazing fashion technology brands, such as Brooke Roberts Limited, on their intellectual property and general corporate/commercial queries.
BR: WAS YOUR CAREER PATH A STRAIGHT LINE OR MORE OF A WANDERING TRAIL?
SS: My career path has been pretty clear. Knowing that I wanted to be a lawyer from an early stage has dictated a fairly direct route. However, I did study Philosophy and Theology at Durham University, just to make me stand out from all of the other applicants I had to compete with for a legal training contract. I knew that I could always pursue a career in law using the transferable skills I developed during my degree and really enjoyed having the opportunity to study something off the beaten track.
BR: WHAT DREW YOU TO THE INDUSTRY, AND MORE SPECIFICALLY, WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BECOME IMMERSED IN TECHNOLOGY?
SS: I undertook a legal work placement at school and loved every minute, so since then I've always focused on becoming a lawyer. I love the fast paced, ever changing and challenging environment of the law. I also love working alongside and learning from the inspiring legal brains that are my colleagues! As far as my sector goes, I’ve always been a bit of a geek and tech has only fuelled my nerd-like guilty pleasures. I'm fascinated by anything techy, particularly anything that combines technology with fashion, so a career as a tech lawyer was a natural fit.
BR: WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ASPECT OF YOUR WORK?
SS: Definitely the brilliant clients I work with. I'm lucky that I get to meet and work with some incredibly talented and creative people who are at the forefront of technology. These people are also great fun and extremely interesting, which makes my job even better! I love hearing about their new concepts, watching their ideas come to life and seeing them grow into highly successful businesses, all the while being lucky enough to help them achieve their goals both from a legal and from a commercial perspective.
BR: WITH THE RECENT TECHNOLOGICAL BOOM, HOW HAS THE LEGAL LANDSCAPE CHANGED? WHAT NEW OBSTACLES, IF ANY, DO TECH LAWYERS FACE?
SS: I am much busier, but in terms of the specific legal issues I am presented with, the fundamental questions asked by my clients have not changed. The majority of my clients' legal questions centre around brand protection, general intellectual property rights, commercial contracts and investment. Clients often have questions around employment or property related issues, but since I'm not a specialist in this area I wouldn't like to offer my advice. I'm lucky that I work for a firm like Taylor Vinters, a full service international firm, that employs fantastic lawyers who specialise in these areas and who I can refer such questions to. I do find, however, that I love my job even more since I have more opportunity to work with fantastic clients who have hugely exciting and cutting edge technology businesses.
BR: WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO THOSE LOOKING TO FOLLOW A SIMILAR CAREER PATH?
SS: Be yourself and let your personality shine through. Be persistent and determined. Once you realise what area of law you love, get as much experience in that area as you can and take as many opportunities that are available to you.
BR: WHAT DEFINING MOMEMT MADE YOU REALISE YOU HAD PICKED THE RIGHT CAREER?
SS: Arriving at Taylor Vinters in London from my old firm in Manchester, having the chance to work in the fashion technology sphere and attend fab events such as the FashTech London events where I met Brooke! For me, helping people like Brooke just brings everything together and makes my job feel so worthwhile.
BR: WHATS THE BEST PIECE OF PROFESSIONAL ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
SS: My husband, Callum, is a great mentor to me. His advice is not to be afraid of taking on new challenges. Callum constantly encourages me to seek new opportunities that might put me outside of my comfort zone, so that way I never become complacent and continue to push myself to progress. BR: AND THE BEST PIECE OF STYLE ADVICE?
SS: The best piece of style advice I have ever received was from my Mum when I was at primary school! My Mum is incredibly stylish. The advice was to “find your own style - don’t follow the crowd”.
SS: I met Moin (Brooke’s fiancée) at a FashTech London event, Brooke had a pop up stand there and gave a fab presentation on her brand. I was instantly drawn to the amazing patterns Brooke had designed from CT scans, and spoke to Moin who kindly explained the concept. I was absolutely blown away! Initially the designs attracted me, but when I heard about the concept too I became an instant fan of Brooke’s work!
BR: WHO INSPIRED YOU MOST IN YOUR FORMATIVE YEARS?
SS: My Mum. She’s an amazing and very talented woman. My mum had me when she was quite young; she is an incredibly intelligent lady, but she didn’t have the chance to go to university. Nevertheless, whilst a full time mum (I can’t remember a time when my mum was not there for me) she progressed to become one of the top Births, Deaths & Marriages Superintendent Registrars in the country and now oversees offices in the Lancashire area. She has always managed to juggle a demanding work/life balance that I can only hope to mirror when I start a family.
BR: WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LONDON STORE AND WHY?
SS: Apart from Brooke, who is obviously an amazing designer, I’ve always been really interested in vintage clothes, so it would be a vintage shop. There is an amazing one off Brick Lane called “House of Vintage”- it’s like an Aladdin’s cave! BR:
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MAGAZINE/PUBLICATION?
SS: At the moment I’m really into a London publication called Jocks & Nerds, and it’s free! They’ve got some really fantastic photographers on board and their articles are varied, interesting and edgy.
BR: WHAT PIECE OF CLOTHING DEFINES YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
SS: I recently visited my favourite Manchester vintage clothes haunt – Retro Rehab on Oldham Street – and bought a fab purple 70s wrap around dress. Can’t wait to give that one a spin!
BR: DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE GADGET? WHAT IS IT AND WHY?
SS: Because I had been trying to get myself ready for my wedding (BR: which has happened since or interview, congratulations Sarah!) I’ve been using a misfit shine. It's an activity tracker that can be interchanged from a pendant to a bracelet. It does what it says on the tin and looks good as a fashion accessory - always important in the fash-tech sphere! I’d highly recommend it!
BR: WHAT’S YOUR CURRENT FAVOURITE/MOST USED APP?
SS: My favourite app is my Mixcloud app. it's an app that enables DJs to upload their latest mixes for Mixcloud subscribers to listen to. My husband is a DJ and that's how I got into using it. There's some really interesting stuff on there – I’d urge you to check it out if you haven’t already!
BR: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS OR ASPIRATIONS FOR 2015?
SS: Professionally, to spread the word about Taylor Vinters and the amazing services we can offer start-ups – particularly the free one-hour consultation we provide to all of our prospective early stage technology clients. Personally, I made a New Year’s resolution to go to more of my husband’s DJ gigs. So far so good, I’ve only missed two so far this year!
Sarah wears the Brooke Roberts AW14 Cornelia Dress
Photography by Nancy Gibbs