Interview with Roger Allen, founder of The Midas I

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Our editor met up with Roger Allen, Founder and Managing Director of a bespoke gifting concierge service that is The Midas I.

Roger trained as an architect at UCL’s prestigious school of architecture, Bartlett, before working for a number of companies on projects ranging from large scale commercial buildings to retail design.

This led him to an increased specialism in retail and a focus on interior architecture. He gained invaluable experience working for several innovative retailers such as Guinevere Antiques, Selfridges and Dover Street Market.

It was in these spaces that he honed his eye on the art of perfect gifting, which he now practises at The Midas I.

The Midas I is an exciting new gifting concierge service, launched at the start of this year. How did it come to be?

The Midas I (TMI)  is really an aggregation of my 20+ years’ experience in architecture, design, and retail. I’ve always preferred working with smaller, more customer-focused businesses and designers, and the launch of TMI really reflects that.

And from a business perspective, bespoke really does feel like an area that has so much untapped potential; we are so saturated with “product” in today’s world, but the more we are exposed to the less personal or special any of it feels. We want to be the antidote to that.


You focus on finding unique gifts for your clients. How does The Midas I service work?

We work with a select group of artisans, artists and designers already, and our offering spans jewellery, and precious gemstones, confectionery, fashion, art, and sculpture, so we usually have a good idea of what might suit a particular client.

But the most important part is always understanding the client, who they are and what they are passionate about. I like to ask a lot of questions such as, where do you like to eat, where did you last go on holiday, what books, art, technology do you love, when do you feel most comfortable, and even asking clients about their sensory perception, relating to sense, smell and so on. While their material needs are important, we also like the more New Age aspects, to really get beneath each client’s skin.

It isn’t designed to be too probing or intrusive, but we do want to understand who our clients are as people before we suggest gifts. Once we’ve done that, we show them the work of 2-3 creatives we work with and discuss how we would like to personalise that offering. In terms of offerings, we’re happy to work on one-offs, but ideally, we would like to partner with a PA/EA for 10 months minimum, so we can show how we work across a number of gifting occasions such as birthdays, Christmas etc. Also, a time to inform you of The Midas Deca a quick precise made to order service. The Top Ten products or themes by TMI’s Artisans, slightly altered to fit your requirements in an instance. Our Top Ten Deca’s are periodically changed on the Home Page so there are always gift ideas that fit.


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What gifts are most in demand and do you see a shift in demand towards anything specific?

It’s so personal to each client, although the tailoring and fashion offerings seem popular at the moment, which may signify the fact that we have all been cooped up for too long and now want to go back out in the world – with our own personalised style!


Bespoke tailoring by Charlie Allen

The corporate gifting world is constantly looking for new ideas. Is the increasing diversity of today’s workforce, especially at the management levels affecting this?

The increasing diversity of today’s workforce just makes our job easier because it brings new variety and perspectives. And I have always believed that great creativity stems from diverse perspectives and ideas coming together – that’s why London is, in my opinion, the most creative place in the world (because we are united by being so different!).

Men of certain age and background dominated the executive suites of most corporations in the past. Is there a typical corporate gift recipient in today’s world? How are female executives catered for when it comes to gifting?

I’d say that women have shaken up the entire sector because they are more discerning about style, but also more exacting about what they do and don’t like. With men, it always feels that bit narrower in scope, from the perspective of specific gifts they might favour, but woman are prepared to be more open and adventurous.


Prince-Charles-receiving-bespoke-shoes-as-a gift

Prince Charles receiving a gift of bespoke shoes hand made by Gaziano and Girling

You also offer men and women bespoke tailoring and bespoke shoes. What are your clients’ main reasons for going bespoke? What’s the demand like for women’s tailored business wear especially?

The bespoke tailoring market pre Covid was growing hugely every year. I don’t have figures to substantiate this, but we work with 2 Saville Row tailors (and are associated with many of the others), and they have all talked about the importance of expanding their businesses to target women.

In terms of what people are seeking out, it’s interesting how it isn’t all business wear for women, although that is a big part of it. In fact, from speaking to our tailors, it often seems to be the case that women want an outfit that they can wear to work, and also to an event, be it social, or even a wedding. Maybe we can call that “value per wear”!

The motivations to paying for bespoke is however the same for both groups: Not only does it represent an “armour to face the world”, but they want a garment that fits perfectly, and above all, looks like it has been tailored for them. Believe me, people do notice when something fits that well! It looks expensive, even if understated.


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What additional demands does the drive to be more sustainable put of your services? Do you have a sustainability policy and if so what does that entail?

Because we work with small businesses and often individuals who craft and produce in their own studio or atelier, we have always been proud of how sustainable the production process is.

This ranges from the work of renowned sculptor Joel Parkes who produces wood sculptures made from wood often over 200 years old who only works with wood sourced from West Dorset woodland close to where he works, most of which is fallen or aged wood, so he really is the ultimate sustainable artist.

To an artist weaver called Akatue who works with her family connections in Ghana to craft bespoke baskets made from elephant grass indigenous to West Africa. Elephant grass is the most incredible plant and is genuinely sustainable because it’s easy to grow and so high yielding. And it has been used by product weavers in the north of Ghana for generations and is so strongly associated with West Africa.

On a more practical level, when it comes to transportation, we are now working with a freight company that offsets (planting trees) to their fuel consumption.


What does the future look for The Midas I?

We already have a growing customer base, but for the next 24 months coming out of Covid, we’d like to grow general awareness of the brand and its bespoke offering.

This will likely include the addition of around 5 more designers and artists (currently we are speaking to some of them), but we will not be looking to expand more than this because we will always espouse values of quality over quantity.


What’s the key message you’d like to leave for our readers in the PA and EA professions who are often responsible for sourcing their companies gifts?


That we at The Midas I promise to find you a one-off personalised gift that simply isn’t available in any store or online.

And our pledge is always to do this in the most hassle-free and relaxed manner possible!

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