The lightning bolts of joy that glimmer through the life of Jo Tutchener-Sharp.

Jo Tutchener-Sharp was already a professional powerhouse long before she ever dreamt of launching a superhero-fuelled fashion house whose signature lightning bolt motif has become beloved of legions of women and children alike. Having set up and been the MD of Seen PR, her reputation as a highly successful beauty public relations dynamo was affirmed – and might easily have remained so for the rest of her working life.

All that changed, however, after Jo underwent life-saving brain surgery, which forced her to spend a lengthy period of time away from her children and, eventually, to re-evaluate. It was after that gruelling experience that she knew that she wanted to do something to actively give back. And so, in 2016, Scamp & Dude was born, its mission to comfort children and to bolster them with special superpowers when they were forced apart from loved ones at times of high stress.

As well as the instantly recognisable leopard and lightning bolt collections for women and children, Scamp & Dude also sells Superhero Sleep Buddies – and for every one bought, they donate another to a child who has lost a parent or who is seriously ill themselves. Similarly, for every one of the brand’s Super Scarves sold, another is donated to a woman with cancer or a mother of a child with cancer, thus empowering those in need with an extra dose of something super, just at the hour they could do with it most.

Here she tells us of the travel plans she’s making to blow her kids’ minds; the life-changing moment Liberty decided to take her whole collection; and the job that once saw her washing the same pair of Calvin Klein pants on repeat.

Favourite place in all the world?

It is so hard to choose one place. My childhood home has to be up there as I feel instantly relaxed when walk through the door when visiting my parents. They live in Shropshire and I love going back to wander around Shrewsbury. Saumur in the Loire Valley in France is one of my favourite places too, also mostly due to happy childhood memories. I love the Caribbean (St Lucia is a favourite), Thailand and Maldives for escapism: magical beaches and time to really switch off and recharge. And my in-laws house in Spain is another favourite, it’s so full of fun.

Dream holiday?

I like a complete change of scenery, somewhere I can completely switch off. A desert island is the ultimate for me, so I love The Maldives – not one of the flashy resorts, I prefer a more low-key beach hut style island, no shoes allowed. We love Windjammer Landing in St Lucia too. It’s been perfect while the kids were small but now they’re getting bigger we are up for some more adventure and are keen to show them the world. We’ve made a list as a family of all the places we want to go. We sat around the table with a globe and discussed ideas together. I want to take them to Brazil, Costa Rica, Thailand and Japan first. I want to blow their minds. My eldest Sonny (10), who is obsessed with history, wants to visit Egypt to see the pyramids and is keen to go to Athens. Jude (7) just wants to go back to St Lucia!

Proudest professional moment to date?

Securing Liberty as a stockist when I launched Scamp & Dude is still the proudest moment of my career. I went to meet the buyer to present Scamp & Dude without a single sample. I talked her through my business plan, showed her all of the designs and told her the story. She said it was the most special brand she had seen in a long time and that they would love to take it all. It still gives me goosebumps thinking about this. It’s hands-down one of the proudest moments of my life. I went straight outside onto Regent Street to call my parents and husband and burst out crying.

Your dream future project?

I have a really exciting project coming up later this year. I’m working with four brilliant women in the public eye to design a collection to raise money for some very special charities. I can’t wait to tell more, but it’s a really exciting project.

Who has been your most inspiring mentor, professionally or personally?

In my previous career in PR, I would say my biggest mentors were Raoul Shah (founder of Exposure), Gillian McVey (founder of Purple) and Millie Kendall (Ruby & Millie). But when it comes to Scamp & Dude, a mentor is something that I’ve been missing. I’ve used podcasts to feed my brain and to teach me what I didn’t already know (which was a lot – production/forecasting etc) and I’ve received support from a lot of people like Sarah Coonan at Liberty and Holly Tucker (founder of Not On The Highstreet). But when it comes to a mentor, this is something that is really missing. I need to find one, especially now we are moving onto the next stage of the business where we are no longer a start-up. I’d love the support of someone I admire and who has created and run large successful fashion businesses. Any offers gratefully received!

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

I would love to live by the sea. And I hope one day I will. My husband and I often talk about where we will live when the children have left home and we’ve retired and it’s always by the sea, maybe in Italy or Provence – or maybe we haven’t discovered the perfect place yet, but the sea will definitely feature.

What book is on your nightstand/ kindle right now?

I have a stack of business books that I am hoping to read but I find it really hard to find the time. It was one of my new year’s resolutions to find more time to read as currently I only ever manage to when I’m on holiday. It isn’t going so well for me so far though! I absolutely love Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, which is one of my all-time favourite books.

Best binge-watched TV show?

Line of Duty. We didn’t watch this when it first came out so binge-watched every single series during lockdown. We absolutely love it.

Top podcast of the moment?

How I Built This by Guy Raz, I love hearing how other people have built their brands. You can feel very alone running a business and listening to interviews with other brand founders about their business journey really helps.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

A hummingbird, so I could live in the Caribbean and fly around sticking my beak in flowers all day.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

As a teenager, I wanted to work on Smash Hits Poll Winners Party (showing my age). For those too young to know what that was, it was a pop concert/awards show in the 90s. I did actually end up working with the BRIT Awards for sixteen years – I created a spa backstage to pamper the artists as a side hustle – so I feel like I achieved that teenage goal.

Worst job you’ve ever done?

I used to do the PR for Calvin Klein Underwear when I started out. We only ever had one sample of each new style and had to get as much press coverage as possible, so I used to take the samples home after shoots to wash them so they could be used again. I can’t actually believe I agreed to this. You can imagine the state of some of the underwear at the end of a shoot, which then went into my own washing machine at home. That’s dedication for you.

Favourite dish to cook?

My husband is the best cook in our house – he is absolutely brilliant and cooking is definitely one of his USPs! His roast dinners are the better than any I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant. I do make a mean Spaghetti Bolognese though and my Japanese salmon with spinach is pretty good too. But cooking isn’t my strong point…

Favourite café/ restaurant?

I love Wheelers in Whitstable. I love oysters and they even have Guinness-battered oysters too which are divine with shallot vinegar on top. I also love Bar Esteban in Crouch End, which is a brilliant tapas bar. It is one of the places I miss most since moving out of London. Also Chisou in London, which is the best Japanese restaurant ever. Try their Horenso Salad, butter fish sashimi and prawn tempura and avocado hand rolls. I dream about them.

What tune always makes you want to dance?

I can’t not dance when Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk or Pharrel Williams Feels come on.

Favourite website or app?

Instagram and WhatsApp. I am really impatient, mainly due to my workload and needing answers really quickly, so WhatsApp is essential for me – much to the annoyance of my team. Instagram is my main marketing tool for Scamp & Dude. It’s such an important part of communicating with our community, so this is a favourite too.

Most useful thing on your desk?

Laptop of course, but that’s boring. So I’ll say my Pantone books. I’m never far away from them as colour is so important to Scamp & Dude – I am always looking up new colour clashes to try.

Favourite building?

I love the chateau in Saumur, partly because it’s beautiful and when it’s dark it looks like it’s floating in the sky, but also because it comes with lots of great memories as we used to holiday there as kids with my parents.

Favourite Instagrammer or tweeter?

Mamas Still Got It – she makes me laugh out loud daily.

Your screensaver?

My two boys and my niece and nephew on holiday in the sunshine.

What would be your epitaph?

Life is short so live it. Have adventures, travel the world, work hard, take risks, burn your candles, wear your best pants and dance on tables.

By Lydia Mansi
May 2022

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Lydia Mansi

Lifestyle Editor

Lydia is an all-round lifestyle guru, tireless champion of women in business and our resident expert on beauty.