Charlie and Chloe Luxton never stop… laughing. With a portfolio of successful businesses between them, they still find time to relax and enjoy their surroundings in the beautiful Blackmore Vale. Chloe is the founder of Bramley beauty products, and the couple count The Beckford Arms, Tisbury, the Talbot Arms in Mells, the Bath Arms in Horningsham and, more recently the Lord Poulett Arms in Hinton St George, in their stable.
How did you meet?
I met Charlie when I started at Cowshed because we shared an office at Soho House: I fancied him as soon as he walked through the door, and the rest is history!
What drew you to The Beckford Arms?
We remember coming off the A303 and following the sat nav through this beautiful arch. There was a lake on one side and a picture-perfect cricket pitch on the other and we were convinced that we’d taken a wrong turn! We carried on for a bit, thinking we’d be turned away once someone saw us, then ended up at a crossroads with The Beckford Arms. We had a whistlestop tour of the pub and fell in love.
What are the best and worst aspects of owning and running a pub?
There are very few businesses where a guest looks you in the eye and gives you such instant, personal feedback. A well-organised pub, with hospitable staff serving great food, is a unique situation. Get it right and it’s an extraordinary feeling; get it wrong and all hell breaks loose.
Would you share your top bar tip?
Drink the best wine you possibly can: the better it is, the better you’ll feel the next day.
Was one great business just not enough?
I have always loved natural products and used to make ‘flower perfume’ to sell to passers-by when I was little, so when I realised that the Beckford had eight bedrooms needing products, Bramley was born. Initially it was a collection of just six products – everything you needed in a hotel bathroom – but it has just grown.
How do you manage to stay calm and switch off your business brains?
I’ve started a weekly evening pottery class – it’s the only time that I get to completely lose track of time and create (not always that successfully!). I think it’s so important for one’s mental health. Charlie can lose himself for hours in an antiques or reclamation centre.
You’ve achieved so much together in 13 years… What’s next?
We’re not ones to rest on our laurels! We have a new fragrance collection for Bramley, a new restaurant called the Beckford Canteen in Bath come September, and a hotel opening on Corsham High Street next year!
What has been your proudest professional moment this far?
When the Duchess of Cambridge got in touch to see if Bramley could help her with a campaign to help those living in poverty during the pandemic, alongside some other iconic British brands. We were delighted to be able to help.
How did you navigate lockdown?
We really believed that schools would reopen after the Easter holidays, because the coronavirus would have been contained and all would be tickety-boo. We wouldn’t have coped if we’d known that it would still be going on two years later! During the first lockdown we juggled work and children between us and didn’t really get our heads around home schooling, but for lockdowns two and three we had help from Jack, the barman at the Beckford, who helped Charlie home-school our three children (who were five, seven and nine at the time). Bramley was able to safely stay open so I became crazy busy: our Hand Sanitiser Gel now sells at a rate of one bottle every 30 seconds.
Has lockdown taught you both anything in particular?
We thought it would teach us to slow down, but that seems to have gone out of the window now that we’re (nearly) back to normal. We all feel a little overwhelmed at the moment because everyone seems to be making up for lost time. But we’re so busy…
You’re a super animal friendly family: how did you discover the joy of pets?
We have ended up with quite a few animals – starting with our dog, Elsa, who is a bit of a Beckford institution. Now she’s 12, she mainly stays at home. We also have one-year-old Pepper, who has been known to steal a steak off a table at one of the pubs! We love our chickens, and we recently bought a tortoise for our son’s 11th birthday.
What are you best holiday memories?
A week down in Mousehole, Cornwall: we rented an Airbnb cottage on the harbour with an amazing sea view and jumped off the harbour wall straight into the sea. Unforgettable! It was probably the first family holiday we’d had when the children were all old enough to enjoy it, making it all the more relaxing for us.
Country or town?
Country! After studying and working in cities I was ready to get back to the green fields when we took over the Beckford. If I go to London for work, the best bit is pulling out of Waterloo, as I know I’m on my way home.
What do you think makes you a dream team?
We complement one another: Bramley supports the Beckford Group, and they support us so it’s a happy relationship.
If Chloe and Charlie took to the stage for karaoke, what would you sing?
Easy: Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. It was our first dance and is always a floor filler.