Oliver Tomalin, founder of LOVE BRAND & Co.
‘I’m a father of two and a very happy dad. It’s just the most amazing thing to be a parent. My wife and I struggled to have children, so it was a total miracle when we had our baby boy and then we very quickly had our daughter. It wasn’t what we bargained for! But every day is a blessing.
I’m lucky to have had a great father myself. Dad is a travelling banker, so business and travel runs in the family blood. He worked all over the world as a young man, which was very inspiring. I was born in Hong Kong and my sister and I grew up in all these wonderful places. That definitely rubbed off on me; LOVE BRAND & Co. is a travel-inspired, beachwear concept. You can absolutely see where that came from!
He’s been the most amazing dad to me, both as a mentor and as a kind of angel for the brand. He believed in the mission and the whole idea from the off. Since day one, we’ve been committed to donating a percentage of our revenue to helping save elephants and endangered species. He’s been the biggest fan and ambassador and I wouldn’t have the business today if it wasn’t for him.
Since I’ve had my own children, I’ve realised how amazing it is, the way they become immersed in your world, whatever you’re doing. I didn’t ask for my son’s favourite animal to be elephants, he just picked that up from me! I promised my daughter that we’d go to Africa to see some elephants or, as she calls them, ‘ephelants’. The pandemic got in the way of that, so we ended up going to see some at Whipsnade Zoo, which was definitely a pretty special memory for me.’
Alexander Stileman, founder of Stileman Lighting Design
‘Becoming a father is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. My daughter, Ellie, is 19 months old and most of her life has been spent in lockdown, so I’ve been by her side for the majority. I think that’s quite unique and might explain why I am by far and away her favourite parent. Ellie says ‘Daddy’ a hundred times a day and I wake up to that noise on the monitor, which is literally the best alarm ever. We actually have another daughter on the way now and I’ve told my wife that the next one will prefer her!
Fatherhood has flipped everything on its head, really. Everyone says children change things, but I think you always underestimate that. Ellie is all-consuming and has given me a lot of drive and focus. The best days in the office are the ones where she comes to visit. I try to get her in as an intern, to sit at my desk with me, as I used to do occasionally with my own dad. Ellie is very creative, curious and likes to take things to pieces like I do myself, to try to understand how they work. Seeing her process things for the first time is extraordinary.
A highlight of the last year was taking Ellie to ballet lessons for the first time – I definitely see the Royal Ballet in her future! But really, just spending time with family now is the best.’
Taymoor Atighetchi, CEO and founder of Papier
‘I’ll always be grateful to my dad (baba) for planting in me a love of art. Being the son of an antiques dealer meant always being surrounded by art around the home. Naturally, I became intrigued by these beautiful objects, and would ask about them – where they were from, how old they were, how they were made.
Dad would often take me to museums and was a far better companion than any curator could have been, in part because he would tell me how much everything would cost if it ended up at auction – you don’t find that in the audio guide!
I remember he once sent me, aged 15, to Sotheby’s with his auction paddle and got me to bid on his behalf for a particular (expensive) object. After a terrifying bidding battle, I ended up winning the item. The whole auction house was staring at me in complete bewilderment. I played it very cool, but I’ve never been so scared in my life!’
Will Elliott, art dealer and founder of Elliott Fine Art
‘Every year, my father and I try to do a cultural trip together. Last year, we went to northern Greece (Thessaloniki and the mountains of Epirus), following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, with whom I’ve been obsessed since an early age. We had a great time hiking, visiting ancient sites, eating in amazing tavernas, listening to podcasts in the car while Dad drove and talking non-stop! Now we are planning a trip to Athens and the Peloponnese.
I think being a father means having patience and dedication, above all. Whether it was driving me around the country every weekend as a boy to play sport (which, of course, I never appreciated) while pursuing a very busy career; not losing faith in me through my difficult and apathetic teenage years; or providing me with guidance and advice now in my own career, Dad has always been there whenever I’ve needed him, without fail. We have very different personalities and ways of seeing the world, but that is highly complementary, which means Dad often sees things I don’t, and vice versa.’
Freddie Briance, CEO of New & Lingwood
‘My abiding memories of my dad, and of our relationship as I was growing up, are largely based around the activities we do together. For example, my dad and I have always played chess. Usually, whenever we need to talk about something, he invites me over for a game. We’re pretty evenly matched. He used to take me to chess tournaments when I was nine and we’d slip off to the arcade in the breaks between games. It’s a slightly nerdy part of my past!
My dad is a very active person and the only way to really pin him down is with an activity. So we go out together often to play really awful golf! The main thing is, we can catch up while we’re doing it. Both with chess and with golf, we’re not too competitive with each other. We both have stressful jobs, and I associate the activities we do together with relaxing times, wherever we are.’
Jojo Regan, founder of Manors Golf
‘I’m one of six children so we’re a big family, but when my parents split up, Dad would always try to organise something exciting to do for the time we spent together. I have fond memories of growing up and going on trips with him. I’m lucky enough to have gone to the North Pole twice with my Dad. The first time was when I was 16 – when I was three weeks away from doing my GCSEs! – and then we went more recently when I was 22. Dad actually broke a world record for the fastest overland crossing to the South Pole. I’ve been on a lot of adventures with my Dad and it’s an important part of our relationship. It’s moments like these that put everything into perspective.
Dad has always been supportive of everything I’ve wanted to do and has always encouraged me to get out into the world and challenge myself. I did have a place at university, but he advised me to take a year out first and explore. Instead of taking up my place at university, I ended up working with him for three years in corporate finance, then starting my own company. I used to run a digital agency, which I sold last year to focus full time on my golf clothing company. We’re 18 months in, but making some pretty exciting waves in the industry. Dad has always been brilliant at giving me support and I definitely tend to take a higher risk route thanks to him.’