This Father’s Day we are celebrating the men who have made us who we are. Whether that’s a father, a step-father, an adoptive dad, an uncle, a mentor or just someone who has always been that ‘father figure’ to you, these are the men we learn from, look up to and are inspired by.
We wanted to delve into this unique relationship more – the lessons we learn from each other, the support we get. We got in touch with two of our members, Jon and Doug Ashby, the father and son duo behind London butcher Ashby’s. A family business for the last 48 years, they share some of the generational wisdom they have acquired over the years.
LSC: What is the story behind Ashby’s as a family business?
Jon Ashby: My father Robert Ashby opened the doors in 1950 and I joined him in 1971, aged just 17 years old, at our old shop in Leadenhall Market.
LSC: What kind of man was Robert Ashby?
JA: I learnt everything from him. He was a master butcher and a true gentlemen. From cutting to buying meat, and most importantly, customer care. He was very well-respected in the trade and a real character!
LSC: Did you always hope your son, Doug, would join the business too?
JA: I always hoped but wasn’t sure he would! I was extremely pleased when he did … even just as a driver to start with.
LSC: And, what about you, Doug? Did you always plan to join your father at Ashby’s?
Doug Ashby: Absolutely not! I didn’t want to get up as early as I’d seen my father get up since I can remember. But after being made redundant in financial recruitment I needed work and Dad said I could do some delivery driving. And that was 10 years ago. The rest is history.
LSC: What is it like working with him?
DA: Dad has always influenced me from a young age – even before I worked with him –and it is mostly through our work and his work ethic. It’s about always being reliable, working effectively and honestly. Confidence comes from being comfortable around anyone, socially and also in a work environment. My sister and I were always encouraged to be as outgoing and sociable as we were comfortable with from a young age.
LSC: What three words would you use to describe each other?
DA: Charming, caring and kind.
JA: Hard-working, honest and great company.
LSC: What is the secret to Ashby’s and your father/son partnership?
DA: I’m not sure it’s a secret! It’s good produce and excellent service. This is a competitive industry, especially in London, and you survive by providing a personal service. When you call up Ashby’s you will speak to an Ashby, which is something a lot of our chefs still love.
JA: When it comes to our relationship, it comes down to love and trust, as well as maintaining what we have achieved, keeping it in the family.
LSC: How do you dress for work? Did your father influence this?
JA: My father always taught me to make an effort, starting with clean shoes. He would say: “If you can’t shine up top, you can always shine below!” As a result, I am always well-presented, usually wearing our brand logo somewhere. I have seen plenty of styles and trends come and go … and then come back again! I don’t ever want to look like mutton dress as lamb. I’m older now but my style has remained, I like to think, like a London gent at the weekend, perhaps. My style always gives me confidence – I’m probably confident because of it.
LSC: HOW Does your style give you confidence, doug?
DA: I don’t think I can honestly step outside and feel confident if I don’t feel a bit stylish. It doesn’t have to be to latest in fashion fads, I just want to be comfortable and confident, knowing I look (sort of) good. I try to dress fairly classically with a bit of colour. It’s why I loved LSC when I first heard about them. If you’re starting with an excellent sock, you can’t let the rest fall by the wayside! You’ve got to see it through.
Early riser? Head to Ashby’s Bermondsey office between 4.00am and 2.30pm, Monday to Friday to see some true master butchers at work. www.rsashby.co.uk
Shop London Sock Company’s Father’s Day edit now to find your own father figure that special, dad-worthy gift.
Have a story about a man in your life and how they inspire you that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you on [email protected]