Feeling something between jealousy at his playboy party lifestyle and disgust that he has created a business off the back of a “reality star” celebrity status, we were totally prepared to hate Jamie Laing when we met at Freshers’ Fair. His concept of a ‘sexy’ sweet shop, with women parading around in underwear handing out lollies, coupled with his air-head attitude on Made in Chelsea, had us wondering just how he could be taken seriously in the world of business, and much less as an ambassador for start-up company Rockstar Youth. To our dismay, we found ourselves slightly admiring his bravado and realising that he was a lot more intelligent than he appeared on television. By Matthew Fletcher.
Rockstar Youth is an organisation which focuses on helping new business by providing a start-up loan of up to £10,000 and free mentoring from one of the highly successful entrepreneurs that work closely with the organisation. The mentoring scheme is aimed at 16-30 year olds either over a 6 or 12 month period, depending on the business idea. We asked Jamie why he thought this scheme in particular is one that will benefit students “The great thing about Rockstar is they mentor you with your businesses and help you understand what you can do to make your business better or make it a success and help build it… banks can give you loans and things like that but you’re just given money; you’re not mentored.”
It was clear to see that Jamie was very proud to be an ambassador for Rockstar Youth, but we wanted to get to know the reality star more and swiftly moved on to the all-star life and business of Jamie Laing.
Through the reality series Made in Chelsea we are all able to see the lavish lifestyle that Jamie lives, but with the recent financial crisis it is sometimes hard to see any effect on the super-rich. Yet Jamie assured us that even the most successful entrepreneurs have had issues with the economy regarding the new trend of online shopping “I think retail is quite a hard thing to get in to, I think everything is going online and I think people are stopping [shopping on the high street], cause no one has any time anymore. So people are stopping going to shops and stuff like that… like I said people don’t have time to go shopping and do these things. And if you are sitting at home and can go on your computer it’s a lot easier. Also people aren’t buying as much; people are stopping buying things so I think the financial crisis has affected me.”
Being on view to millions of people through both Made in Chelsea and his business Candy Kittens, it has occurred to some that a business such as Candy Kittens may have particular social responsibilities especially given that it is marketed to particularly impressionable generation. We put this idea to Jamie “I think that um, people relate to businesses as brands and I think people respect branding and the way their emotions and the way they operate they you know with a brand.” Yet there have been those who have suggested that due to Candy Kittens using younger women as a marketing tool, they promote a culture where women are objectified and dehumanised. Jamie explained that he felt the girls are not objectified at all, that they are appreciated for not only what they look like but also for their social talents “Well I don’t think they are objectified at all, I think what we do is we appreciate. Look I grew up with like 6 sisters so I always loved hanging around with girls… I think girls are really fun, and girls also are a lot better with people a lot of the time and so that’s why I wanted to work with girls. Guys are grumpy all the time, girls aren’t that grumpy they are always on it, they are always good”
Being an Uni graduate himself, we were curious to know what societies he held an interest with during his time at Leeds University, and how they may have affected his career decisions, “Well I did theatre so I was part of the theatre society so I did a lot of plays in my spare time while I was studying, and that was about it I just loved theatre and movies that’s kinda like my real passion.” So it occurred to us that perhaps being a celebrity was always in the back of Jamie’s mind, especially after studying a degree such as theatre, but apparently The Made in Chelsea star didn’t sign up for the show to be famous. He had a much more business-orientated focus in mind “the reason I sort of went on Made in Chelsea was because I… for three reasons: firstly, I thought it would be interesting to see what fame would be like, of course, because I think you would want to experience everything in time. Secondly I had a brand that I wanted to push and what better marketing tool than to go on a TV show that had 2 million viewers and push your brand; and thirdly, I love attention! So I thought why not let’s go and do it!” Attention has been something that Jamie has loved since he was a kid, he confesses to the Western Eye that growing up as 1 of 9 with 6 or 7 sisters (even he was slightly unsure!) the only way to get attention was to be loud “ that’s why I’m very loud – you have to fight for attention!”
Loving attention is probably a very useful trait to have when one is in the public eye as much as a reality star is, yet we wondered if there was ever a time where the attention got too much for even someone as charismatic as Jamie. “You can’t complain about that, you have chosen it, anyone who complains about the route you have chosen, you have a choice and it can play right or wrong for you. I’ve chosen this route and I can’t complain, you have to do it and you have to accept it ‘cause that’s what your choice is.”
So there we have it: Jamie Laing and his take on both business and celebrity life. From University graduate to successful entrepreneur/reality superstar it’s fair to say that Mr Laing is living the life many of us may envy. Yet although we may not all have fame and wealth in the world, Jamie showed us his “no regrets” tattoo that made us feel a little better about ourselves. As we asked to see the infamously terrible tat’, he chuckled and left us with one last piece of advice “Which one? The bad one? That’s my bro Pan right there. Growing up is a trick! Never grow up!”