#FutureFifteen: Meet The Movers, Shakers And Makers To Name Drop Now

#FutureFifteen: Meet The Movers, Shakers And Makers To Name Drop Now

They're the movers, shakers and makers of the future. From music to movies and art to apps, these are the hot new names to drop...

01. Musician
Kelsey Lu

‘The first note that I hit was like a reverberating sonic boom pressed up against my body.’ Instrumentalist/singer Kelsey Lu is explaining her first experience of the cello aged nine. She started out copying her older sister and playing the violin, but when she discovered a cello in her teacher’s studio and was allowed to take it home, she says that’s when she ‘immediately fell in love with it’. Born Kelsey McJunkins (Lu was a childhood nickname that’s stuck) in North Carolina, she grew up surrounded by music.

Her mum played the piano, and her dad was a portrait artist and a percussionist in a jazz band. ‘He was always blasting things in his studio,’ she says. However, pop music was an unknown genre to her. Raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, it was banned. Instead, Lu worked on finding her own sound, attending cello practice and dreaming of playing in a symphony orchestra. Aged 18, she managed to get a scholarship to study classical music at university. When her parents found out, she was forced to flee from home. Now, aged 26, they have managed to rebuild their relationship with one another. ‘When I perform, I feel consumed with tsunami waves of emotion. It varies from performance to performance and the energy that’s in the room. But as long as I feel a connection, I get very lost in that.’ It’s easy to get lost too while watching and listening to Lu perform. Her sound is hypnotic – a mixture of haunting strings and her lilting voice full of emotion.

And it’s clearly hypnotised others as well. She’s collaborated with Dev Hynes, aka Blood Orange, plays cello on Kelela’s forthcoming album, has worked with Sampha and, earlier this year, opened for Florence and The Machine. But Lu is also doing her own thing. In July she released her debut EP, Church, that was recorded in a Brooklyn church all in one take. ‘There are different stages that have brought me here. I’ve gone through experiences in music, life and art that have kind of led me to myself. I’ve been slowly working on my own things and figuring out what to do. So I think that’s taking off now.’

(Photographer Rodrigo Carmuega, Artist Pablo Thecuadro )


02. Shoe designer
Dora Teymur


‘Hands. Definitely hands. Not shoes. Shoes are the second thing.’ I’ve asked Dora Teymur what he notices first about a person. As a shoe designer, you’d think he’d have a bit ofa foot fetish, but it turns out not. ‘I don’t hate them, but I don’t like them, either.’ However, it all begins to make sense when you look at his collections, which he’s designed with the mantra ‘to hide the foot’ in mind. Free from toe cleavage-enhancing designs, instead you’ll find loafers, backless mules and little booties. Some come with a strip of studs or a septum-style ring. But it’s the baroque heel on many that’s become Teymur’s signature. ‘My design style is all about mixing different references from different decades and adapting them to today. It’s a mix of various nostalgic elements.’

A bit like Teymur himself, who says he’s always enjoyed dressing up. Today he’s wearing Levi’s and a balloon-sleeved shirt. Launched in 2012, Teymur’s shoes have quickly become fashion bait. Originally from Istanbul, he moved to London aged 17 to study at the London College of Fashion. He quickly realised that the student lifestyle of partying and Pot Noodles wasn’t for him. ‘I was like, wow, it’s not going to work out. I’m not a person to be a student.’

But instead of quitting, Teymur started his brand during his second year with support from his property developer father. His big break came when one of his friends, who worked at Browns Fashion, wore a pair of his shoes and was spotted by the head buyer. Opening Ceremony and Net-A-Porter quickly followed. Instagram has also proved to be a savvy sales move. ‘I post a style and it sells out within the hour. It’s amazing.’  When Teymur’s not sketching, you’ll find him at the barre. ‘I take ballet classes twice a week. My mother was a ballerina, but I never had the right posture to become professional.’ Lucky for all us shoe lovers.

(Photographer Rodrigo Carmuega, Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

03. Pop star

There is so much going on in the world and there are people with huge influence who say f**k all, and that pisses me off,’ says Milly Toomey, aka Girli, as she furiously spreads Marmite onto a piece of charred toast. Sitting cross-legged on a couch post-shoot with her pink highlighter-coloured hair, this 18-year-old is far from the apathetic teen stereotype. Earlier this year, she released her debut track online, So You Think You Can F**k With Me Do Ya. Think M.I.A. meets Lily Allen – all big power beats and cutting lyrics fused with sound effects like iMessage alert tones.

A typical line? ‘You know the two blue ticks shows that it’s been seen?’ ‘I used to describe my sound as brat pop,’ she says, but now I don’t like the word brat as that’s only used for women. Like you wouldn’t call the Beastie Boys brats, even though they’re f**king tongue in cheek!’ Growing up in north London with both parents working as stage actors, Toomey always knew she wanted to perform. Aged 15, she started doing open mic nights using a fake ID. She then turned down a place at The Brit School – ‘all the competitiveness and pop-star machine thing bugged me’ – for a spot at a music college in east London. It was there that she focused on her Girli persona.

‘I wanted a name that represented a strong female figure. Sometimes when I’d be wolf-whistled at by guys, they’d shout, “Hey girli!”, and I thought that’s an interesting pronoun – what does that mean?’ Unsurprisingly, she’s amassed a lot of female fans, who say how she is their role model and that her songs such as Girls Get Angry Too are their anthems. So, what’s it like being a female pop star in 2016? ‘The music industry is a boys’ club. I’ve caught myself trying to fit in, to be one of the lads, and it’s just bullshit. As a woman you do have to have thicker skin. I do what I do because I want to make people think.’

(Photographer Rodrigo Carmuega, Artist Pablo Thecuadro)
04. Actor
Callum Turner


When Callum Turner wanders into the studio, it’s fair to say most of the crew get a little flustered. He pulls off a beanie hat to reveal a ‘just rolled out of bed’ head of hair. ‘Sorry, it’s a bit of a mess,’ he says to the hairstylist with a grin. It’s that grin (with its hint of naughtiness) that made us put down our phones to watch him play a brooding twenty-something who embarks on an affair with a married Helen McCrory in ITV drama Leaving. It was the same on-screen charisma that had us hooked on the gritty murder mystery Glue, in which he played the possessive Eli Bray trying to track down his brother’s killer. But it was his role as the villainous Anatole in BBC’s War And Peace that really put him in the spotlight.

Growing up in Chelsea (not in an MIC way), Turner says he has always loved films. However, his childhood dream was to be a footballer. It was only after dabbling in modelling (he’s shot for both Reebok and Burberry) that he decided to go down the acting route. ‘I did a couple of courses and got a few jobs. But it wasn’t until about two years into being “an actor”, like on TV and stuff, that I was like, OK I really want to do this.’ Next up, he stars alongside Michael Fassbender in the fantasy thriller Assassin’s Creed. ‘He’s a hero of mine. I was nervous at first, but I think he liked what I did.’ Surprisingly, for a 26-year-old on the cusp of stardom, Turner is very unassuming when it comes to talking about career highlights.

‘Every job is a break – a chance to show how you can be different. It’s a constant evolution.’ And although Hollywood is sure to beckon soon, in the meantime you’ll find him hanging out with his school friends. ‘They’re super-supportive. But I get the piss taken out of me. Not because I’m an actor. Even if I wasn’t an actor it would be something else.’

(Photographer Rodrigo Carmuega, Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

05. Illustrator
Maria-Ines Gul


‘I set myself the challenge of posting something every day,’ says illustrator Maria-Ines Gul on why she set up her Instagram account. ‘If you know someone is waiting to see something new, it helps you to keep doing it.’ When she says ‘someone’, Gul modestly means one of her 149k followers, who double-tap her bright, whimsical and charming drawings. Originally from Poland, she moved to London to do a Masters in visual communication at the Royal College of Art. Her first big break came when Tavi Gevinson approached her to work with her on Rookie magazine, a moment that Gul describes as ‘very surreal’.  Since then she hasn’t looked back, taking on commissions from the Tate and New York Times.

‘I’m very fast, so that’s one of my biggest advantages, but it also means that I say yes to a lot. The best projects are the ones that happen super-quickly, though; when someone says we need this by tomorrow.’ A self-confessed night owl, Gul says she’s trying to work to a more structured schedule, but it’s under pressure that she thrives. ‘I like the thrill and really need a deadline. If I have too much time, I just become lazy.’ Next up is a book cover for Penguin and she’s already collaborated with Gucci on its cruise collection show at Westminster Abbey, which was a bit of a dream come true for Gul.

‘Growing up, I wanted to be a fashion designer. Since then I’ve always wanted to be involved in the industry, but because I hadn’t learned how to sew I felt there wasn’t really a place for me.’ Although she does worry about the impact of technology on hand illustration, she also thinks it can be a positive thing. ‘Take Instagram. You can show your work, but also your personality. It helps you connect with people.’

(Photographer Rodrigo Carmuega, Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

06. Actress
Jenn Murray


‘I went for a really firm one. The man in John Lewis was like, “Are you sure?” And I was like, “Yes, I know what I like.”’ It’s post-InStyle shoot and Jenn Murray is telling me about how she can’t wait to get home to have a nap on her new mattress. After months of filming the upcoming adaptation of JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them, Murray has finally found the time to move house. With her porcelain skin and piercing blue eyes, it’s not hard to see why the bewitching 30-year-old was cast in the fantasy drama about a secret community of witches and wizards in New York. Growing up in Northern Ireland, films were always a means of escapism. ‘One time at school I was really unwell and my mum came to take me home. We watched The Money Pit with Tom Hanks and that’s a memory I’ll never forget. It’s like you don’t feel well, but you watch a story and you just feel better.’ Although acting was always the career goal, the path to get there wasn’t exactly clear. ‘I didn’t have anyone around me who represented that world,’ says Murray.

‘My father was a pharmacist, my mum was a teacher. My brother and sister are lawyers. So it was just a quiet dream that I had.’ But after deferring a place at university to try out for drama school, things really took off. Murray’s first big break came when she was cast as the lead in the thriller Dorothy Mills while still studying. ‘It was the hardest job, ironically, because it was the first thing I ever did. Most people start off with a few lines here or there, so there was a lot of pressure on me.’ Her next pinch-me moment came along with a role starring alongside Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn. ‘I’d read the book many times. It’s about grief, love and making choices in your life. It’s relevant to everyone.’ So what did she learn from her Oscar-nominated co-star? ‘Saoirse is really kind and low-key.

The best actors I’ve met have eyes in the back of their heads. I love people like that, who are quite understated but underneath there’s this power, which they’re not showing. That’s why when I was younger and wanted to act, I didn’t tell anyone. The child at school who wants to be an actor is always the loudest person in the room, the one who sings songs. But the best actors I’ve worked with are very shy; the people who observe.’

(Photographer Rodrigo Carmuega, Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

07. Fashion designer
Eudon Choi


‘That’s actually the worst moment. I just feel awkward about it. Maybe it’s my self-esteem,’ says Eudon Choi. I’m sitting with the Korean-born, London-based designer discussing what I thought was going to be the highlight of Fashion Week – taking a bow at the end of a show. But for Choi it’s actually the other part most designers hate that’s the most enjoyable for him – reading what the critics have to say. ‘I read them all. For me the most rewarding moment is when my collection gets positive reviews.’ Ever since Choi made his brand debut back in 2009, affirmative feedback both from stylists, buyers and writers has been the general consensus from women who love his clever feminine tailoring. Having originally studied menswear in Seoul, Choi was lured to London after reading about John Galliano and Alexander McQueen.

Graduating with a Masters in womenswear from the Royal College of Art, he started working with Sienna and Savannah Miller on their now defunct fashion label, Twenty8Twelve. His eponymous brand came about quite spontaneously. ‘It wasn’t even in the plan to do my own business,’ says Choi. ‘I was just sick of touching cheap fabrics. I wanted to create something beautiful of my own.’ Three years after going it alone, he made his on-schedule London Fashion Week debut. Now he’s ready to take it to the next level with help from the British Fashion Council (earlier this year, he was awarded business support through the form of grants and mentorship). But although Choi reads all the reviews, he himself is his biggest critic. ‘I used to have OCD, so I am a perfectionist. I know it’s never going to be perfect. When starting a collection the uncertainty makes me very anxious, but once I start creating it’s very satisfying.’

(Photographer Rodrigo Carmuega, Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

08. Writer
Scarlett Curtis


‘It’s a complicated thing, because you don’t want to be defined by them and I don’t want to feel I’ve got where I am because of them.’ Scarlett Curtis is talking about her parents. It’s a subject that’s hard to avoid when your dad, Richard, has written the majority of the UK’s favourite films – think Love Actually and Notting Hill – and your mum is the popular broadcaster and writer, Emma Freud. Although it would have been easy for Curtis to piggyback on her parents’ names, she’s actually done her best to avoid it. ‘I want to keep my work to myself,’ she says. ‘It can be difficult, but I think it’s about what you’re doing and how well you do it. Although you can feel self-conscious, you just have to get on with it, do your own thing and whatever you’re doing will shine through.’

Curtis started out blogging from her bedroom at the age of 14 when she became very ill and was forced to drop out of school. ‘I found massive solace in writing. I was isolated from people my age, so I started to make friends online in the blogging community and through Twitter.’ Aged 17, she recovered physically, but began to suffer mentally. ‘I had quite bad anxiety and depression. It was new to me, and I felt so ashamed and alone. Writing about it was a huge aspect of me getting better. It’s part of losing the stigma.’

Now, living in New York where she’s studying a mixture of international development, politics and English literature at NYU, she also writes part time and has been published in the majority of the UK glossies and broadsheets. Similar to her hero Lena Dunham, Curtis isn’t afraid to delve into the more taboo issues. ‘I’ve met Lena a couple of times. She’s my number one person. I think a lot of celebrities can be scared about expressing an opinion, and I love that she’s come out so strong.’ With the political election looming, Curtis explains how she feels really lucky to be living in the States at such a time of change. ‘You can feel everything is becoming more divided, but you also get a lot more people realising that actually we’re not done with the movement for race or womens’ rights, and they need to use their voice. Online writing can be criticised, but everyone has a right to start or join the conversation.’  

(Photo: Rosie Kane, Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

09. Photographer
Coco Capitán


Capitán almost didn’t become a photographer. Having been an A student at school, the Spanish 24-year-old thought that she might study law. It was only during her final exams, when she was spending all her free time taking pictures and doing odd jobs to be able to buy film roll, that Capitán realised she could make a career out of it. ‘I was always a really well-behaved child,’ she says. ‘I think I was a little annoying about it, but I thought that if I was good my parents would let me do what I want to do. So then when I was 17, I was like “doing photography is my rebel moment’.”

She moved to London to study it and hasn’t looked back since. Although she only graduated from the Royal College of Art this year, Capitán has already shot campaigns for Mulberry and Paco Rabanne. And when we speak she’s just returned from shooting another project for Gucci. But Alessandro Michele didn’t have her shooting one of the supers in his amazing creations, instead he simply told her his favourite Italian coastal spots and asked her to go off and photograph them. ‘I think brands are taking bigger risks – you don’t need a model to show the clothes in a campaign any more,’ says Capitán. ‘You just want to share an experience. It’s all about saying, “Join us, be part of this and you’ll be cool”. I think that’s how marketing works now.’

For Capitán, the most important thing when working with a brand is trust. ‘Most will let me work in film and they’re excited about it. But at the same time, they’ve become really spoilt by digital imagery because they can see the pictures straightaway. I think people sometimes forget about the quality of printing.’ And although her portfolio is filled with amazing images of celebrities she’s worked with, including rapper A$AP Rocky, Capitán says they are never her favourite subjects. ‘You don’t have that much freedom, as you have to have so many approvals.’ Instead, you’ll find her most excited by her personal projects. ‘When I was a teenager, I lived in Beijing for three months and it was intense. I’d go out on the street, ask people for their pictures and end up in the strangest places; sometimes even dangerous situations. You definitely get distracted when you’re looking through a camera lens. I think the older you get the more scared you get, which is why I’m going back there in a week. I’m so excited.’

(Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

10. Set designer
Robert Storey


When it comes to career highlights, for set designer Robert Storey it’s hard to know where to start. He’s created giant Perspex shoe plinths for Nicholas Kirkwood, filled Hermès’ windows with ginormous moss-covered stones, built futuristic LED light-filled rooms for a Nike presentation in New York, installed oil-slick black flooring at the Tate Modern for Christopher Kane and spent an entire day hand-folding paper sculptures for Vionnet. He also counts Louis Vuitton, Victoria Beckham and Kenzo as clients. It’s even more impressive when you discover that it’s only been eight years since Storey graduated from Central Saint Martins, where he studied fine art sculpture rather than spatial design.

‘I was kind of starting to actually design the space that the sculpture sat within, because for me the experience of seeing a sculpture was about being inside a space which was then relevant to the sculpture itself. My thesis was actually about the importance of the environment for a sculpture.’ After graduating, Storey hotfooted it to New York. ‘I had such a great time, I wanted to stay for longer. I had a friend who was an agent that looked after a set designer and he was like, “Why don’t you assist her?”. It kind of clicked into place that you could be very artistic and creative – make props and apply all the things that I learned during my art degree and my own artistic sensibility.’

Aged 23, he opened his own studio and now has a team of 12. ‘Sometimes when I walk in and everyone is sitting at their desks, I’m like, “Oh my god, this is really scary!’’’ With everyone hunting for Instabait, what’s Storey’s take on social media? ‘In the last few years, one of the things that’s been added to my brief, which was never there before, is to create “an Instagrammable moment”. I have absolutely no qualms about it at all. I mean, naturally I would want to create one. Instagram has actually encouraged people to work with special designers like me, because they need to create these immersive experiences that people get to see first hand, rather than a two-dimensional thing in a magazine.’

(Photographer Rodrigo Carmuega, Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

11. Activist
Carys Afoko


It’s four days after the Brexit result when the InStyle shoot takes place, and political activist Afoko is fuming. ‘Most people in Britain are better than what’s going on now and I think that’s what’s so depressing about it.’ In between hair and make-up, she goes outside to Skype her friend about iStreetWatch, a website they launched a couple of hours ago inspired by the post-referendum results to track racist and xenophobic harassment in public spaces. ‘Being a Londoner is such a big part of my identity, so when something like this happens and you feel quite powerless, it’s good to think, “What exactly is happening? What do I have control over and what can I do?”’

Growing up in Brixton, south London, Afoko says her household was always quite political. ‘My dad is a refugee – he came over from Ghana. My mum is Welsh and was working for a refugee council,which is how they met.’ It was at school, while the Iraq war was unfolding, that Afoko realised she could make a difference. ‘Loads of us at school went on protests. That was the start of me wanting to change things.’ She credits being a Londoner as a big influence on getting into politics, but the final catalyst was going to university. ‘I studied politics at Oxford. I grew up in a family that wasn't very rich, then went to university and met some very privileged people. It was a big culture shock. I was like, “Oh my god, who are these posh people?”’

After graduating, Afoko moved back to London and is now communications director at SumOfUs, a digital campaign organisation. Remember those sexist beach body billboards? Well, Afoko and her team were the ones who started to campaign, demanding that Protein World apologise and remove them from the Underground. ‘I think the more digital campaigning and social media campaigning I’ve done, the more I’ve realised that most people do care. I mean, they’re busy and they all have lives, but actually if you ask them to do something, like just a tweet or an Instagram, they will. And it can make a difference.’

(Photographer Rodrigo Carmuega, Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

12. Spatial designer
Noé Duchaufour Lawrance


If you’ve ever visited London’s Sketch restaurant, had a stopover in an Air France business class lounge or bought a bottle of Yves Saint Laurent serum, you’ll have seen a Noé Duchaufour Lawrance design. Although they’re different – from giant egg-shaped loos to a curved, purple gradient bottle – they all have something in common: the line. Lawrence is pretty obsessed with lines, which he describes as ‘his language’. ‘You have the inner space of an object, which is something you are connected with, and you see the dimensions of an object, which is the volume. Then the outer space is related to it, although it is outside of it. You can create a space within a space and not stop the line.’

It’s this idea that becomes most clear in his furniture design, especially in his most recent collaboration with Hermès on a sofa and dressing table that he created for the fashion house. ‘Furniture is what drives me to design. Interior design comes with work. It’s more a job to be honest; it’s less of a passion than furniture.’ Surprisingly, Lawrence never studied design, instead opting for sculpture. ‘I knew aged 11 I would do design,’ he says. ‘My stepfather tore a page out of a magazine for me about a man who was a sculptor, an artist and a designer. That connection really interested me.’

For Lawrance, the combination works naturally. ‘Furniture is very close to my personal language and way of thinking. It needs to be functional, but you can let it become a little bit more artistic – it’s like a usable sculpture.’ So what are his pet hates when it comes to design? ‘Anything that’s made for effect, just for show. And even more if there is a coloured light on it.’ Is this a trend he’s seeing a lot of. ‘Everything has become design and no one knows what it is any more. The problem is, every student who’s doing a new piece becomes fancy, going on Instagram and Facebook. There is a high level of communication, but not a high level of quality.’ For Lawrence, he prefers to remain in the background working away, a bit like Céline’s Phoebe Philo rather than, say, Jeremy Scott. ‘As creators we are connected to the same vibration in a way that we try to do something pushed by passion and to make it happen through a production. I’m just a bit quieter about it.’

(Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

13. Artist
Hannah Perry


‘Being an artist is about vulnerability, not being afraid to make mistakes. The stronger you feel these things, the deeper you go into your creativity,’ says the installation, music and video artist Hannah Perry. In an era where everyone is self-publishing and self-promoting online, it comes as a surprise to find that Perry’s website has a password. ‘I want people to view the work as it is. For me, it’s important to experience it, to feel it,’ she says. ‘A lot of the videos/installations are immersive.

Documentation online doesn’t present the best reading of the work viscerally.’ With a BA from Goldsmiths University, Perry went on to do an MFA at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Since graduating in 2014, she’s been featured in exhibitions around the world, including New York, Warsaw and Amsterdam. Perry describes her music and video work as ‘therapy’. ‘Right now I’m writing a lot of hate mail – salty unrequited spam emails that I’ll never send; collecting seemingly general but targeted posts to people who will know damn well what it’s about – like target marketing. I’m also in the middle of making some pretty imposing phallic sculptures from traumatised metal and liquid latex. The relics of some kind of skewed, stereotyped role play, where the end credits roll up on a car crash sex scene,’ she explains.

When it comes to everyone being a videographer nowadays, what with iPhone footage and Snapchat, Perry has an open attitude. ‘It’s great that there is that space to be creative or expressive. We had the same conversation when snapshot cameras came out in the 80s, and we will have it again. But being able to inspire people is not about tools; it’s about making people feel and be felt.’

(Artist Pablo Thecuadro)
14. Filmmaker
Samantha Michelle


‘I’ve had agents take me on and then drop me because I wouldn’t go to their house for drinks or be their girlfriend.’ Actress-turned-filmmaker Samantha Michelle is talking about her experience of Hollywood. ‘I come from a loving family and had a 3.9A f**king grade point average from NYU and Oxford. But I still found myself in situations where I was entertaining these disgusting propositions, because the film industry is so competitive.’ It’s this notion of ‘the boys’ club’ that Michelle explores in her first short film The Dark Side Of The Sun. ‘I wanted to start a discourse about sexploitation on the casting couch, but this time with gender role reversal. The world of film is foul when it comes to the treatment of women.’

Starring Jack Fox, it made its debut at Cannes earlier this year. Encouraged by positive reviews, Michelle is now in the process of writing and turning it into a feature-length movie. When it comes to saying no to sexploitation, Michelle doesn’t think the perpetrators were that shocked. ‘It was more like, “OK, next!”’ You’re a dime a dozen.’ As well as the casting treatment, the type of roles available to women is also frustrating for Michelle.

‘We live in a culture where females are supposed to be Bond girls – sexy, violent, glamorous and slightly in the background at the wills and whims of men. The content created promotes that type of myth.’ In order to change this, Michelle thinks the best approach is a different type of content creation. ‘You need to work with the system in order to change it. My film doesn’t seem like a didactic piece of cinema – it’s entertaining, but at the same time it evokes questions rather than communicating one singular message.’

(Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

15. Digital innovator
Daniel Murray


Grabble founder Murray has just flown in from a business trip to Berlin. He’s clock-watching as he needs to leave for the airport again shortly for a flight to Barcelona. In the past month, he’s ticked off meetings in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Paris and New York. ‘My body clock is a bit all over the shop,’ he exclaims. Bearded, with thick-rimmed glasses and wearing trainers, Murray looks like a stereotypical app developer, but he’s adamant that’s where the clichés stop. ‘I think the biggest misconception people have about app developers after thinking we are geeks, is the assumption that we have had this light-bulb moment and know what the market wants. But that’s bullshit.’

Instead, for Murray, his fashion app that lets you grab pieces you like from various online shops and store them in one place to buy came about after various other attempts. Having worked in creative advertising for a bit, he and his current business partner Joel Freeman decided to go it alone. Their first business, a QR code card-playing platform failed. ‘It was too early, people were still using Sony Ericssons,’ he says. This was then followed by an attempt at a Pinterest-style business. ‘We ran it for a year until we realised it wasn’t going anywhere as actual Pinterest had taken off.’ It was when Murray and Freeman changed their mindset and thought about what works well on a phone that the idea for Grabble was born. ‘People like single-use apps,’ says Murray. ‘That’s why Tinder is great. So we created a Tinder for fashion – you swipe right on the pieces you like.’

Launched in 2013, it immediately went viral. ‘It wasn’t a secret. I read so much about how to trend on Twitter etc, and then I followed it to a tee. I locked myself in a room for a week and just made it happen.’ Last year, Murray and Freeman received a £1.2 million investment from a consortium of investors keen to get involved in the start-up. Now they’ve begun to consult with brands to help them develop their own mobile apps. So why does Murray think his app has worked? ‘We’re totally comfortable with changing our business model. We’re pragmatic. We look at the metrics and see what’s working and what’s not. Even if something sounds like a good idea, if people aren’t using it we get rid of it. You have to go where the money goes.’

(Photographer Rodrigo Carmuega, Artist Pablo Thecuadro)

This originally appeared in the October issue of InStyle out now

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