Everton Campbell runs The Hip Store, an independent men’s fashion boutique in Thornton’s Arcade. It was the first to stock Vivienne Westwood, Diesel and the Plectrum range by Ben Sherman. Interview by Neil Hudson.
“I’ve been running the store since November 1987 but it seems like we only opened it yesterday, even though I know it’s not – the fact I’ve now got grey hairs tells me that.
I am most proud of my wonderful wife Tracey and my beautiful daughters Annabel, nine, and Marney, four. I met Tracey on the day the planes went into the Twin Towers on 9/11 but we only married last year. We had never really bothered about it before, it didn’t matter to us that much, we were happy enough and besides, so many married couples end up getting divorced. What changed our minds I think was the children, they are getting older now and it just felt like the right thing to do for us.
“The one thing I couldn’t live without is my iPhone, it literally never leaves my hand.
Apart from the busy job of being a dad and running a store that carries stock from several different labels from all over the world, including Ralph Lauren Comme Des Garcons, Norse Projects and Stussy means a lot of calls during different time zones and emails bouncing back and forth to suppliers to ensure we are getting the best stock that often isn’t available elsewhere else in the city. About 60 per cent of our sales are now online to places like America, Asia and Australia.
“It also means I can keep an eye on how Leeds United is getting on when I can’t get to the match, as I’ve been a Leeds United supporter for as long as I can remember.
My first job was a car mechanic’s assistant under some arches in Holbeck.
I went to Matthew Murray High School and when I left at 16, I was really into cars, so I just went into that, although I didn’t do it for very long. I think I was only there a couple of weeks, after which I became a computer programmer and after that I went to work for British Olivetti computers on Coal Road in Seacroft, which had to be the worst job in the world and was the thing which made me realise I didn’t want to work in an office or for anyone else.
“From there I worked in a punk fashion shop called X Clothes and after that a vintage rockabilly shop on Boar Lane called Billy’s. It was while I was doing that the opportunity came up of renting a space in Thornton’s Arcade.
At that time, there were no fashion boutiques catering for young men in Leeds. We rode the wave of the rave culture and made regular trips to New York bringing back vintage Adidas and Nike sneakers, we were the first in Leeds to cater for that. At one point, we even ended up running our own club night at Digby’s in York Place – the event was called Hipnotic and we worked with two local DJs called Nightmares on Wax, who were on the up at the time, plus we used other guest DJs from the Hacienda and Schoom in London.
“My childhood was great. My late father was a fantastic joiner, my mother a wonderful nurse at the LGI.
“We grew up in Beeston, I had three brothers – Davon, Michael and Mark – plus an elder sister, Sharon.
I was one of the lucky ones, I had the best parents, brothers and sister so I only knew kindness at home. I enjoyed sports and represented my schools for football and tennis, had trials at Yorkshire Cricket Club, which gave me the opportunity to learn to be a team player and make lots of friends.
My first love was my primary school teacher in school when I was four. It was just a crush.
To relax I like to swim and go to the gym. I’m a very active person and I like to unwind by exercising.
Something that might surprise other people is I’m very shy which you wouldn’t have guessed but I get by being able to converse in different foreign languages when on business trips using my strong Yorkshire accent which I am very proud of.
“The best advice I have is learn from yesterday, live today, hope for tomorrow.
If I could meet anyone at all, it would be arguably the greatest sportsman of all time, Muhammad Ali.
The last time I cried was just the other day when I chewed on aluminium foil with my filling. Not a good idea.
“The best thing about Leeds is it’s a great place for self-starters in business. Twenty-five years ago when my business partner and I set up the shop we were the first to bring a lot of designers to the city, making a point to be innovative in what we were selling and going that extra mile, sometimes quite literally, to find clothes that simply weren’t readily available in the UK.”