To build a more mindful company, start with offices in the English countryside. 

That’s easier to do when you’re Fairfax & Favor, a footwear company for rural British life turned luxury lifestyle brand. 2023 marks Fairfax & Favor’s 10th anniversary, and over the past decade, the brand has taken risks and weathered early growing pains without losing sight of its country roots.

No longer are the two co-founders, Marcus Fairfax Fountaine and Felix Favor Parker, stashing their inventory in Marcus’s mother’s attic and figuring out how to reach their audience. Now, they’re overseeing expansion and building successful teams, while ensuring they’re prioritizing wellness for themselves and their business.

I spoke with Marcus about the leadership lessons they’ve learned over the past ten years (including how charcuterie boards should be a part of team bonding), the importance of having a business partner, and how they’re always trying to rewrite the rulebook.

Photo Credit: Fairfax & Favor

Tell us more about Fairfax & Favor. Why were you passionate about launching your own footwear brand?
Fairfax & Favor was co-founded by myself and my childhood best friend, Felix, in 2013. The brand was born from our shared passion for creating the highest quality and fit-for-performance footwear for rural life with a stylish design. We believe our design and signature style sets us apart from all other footwear brands for those living in the country and gives customers the feeling of rural vogue.

In recent seasons, our collections have expanded and grown to include a range of versatile footwear that can be worn far beyond the country, finding a home comfortably in the town, too. The brand celebrates British culture and heritage, with equestrian influences weaving through designs. Our signature style brings together practicality, comfort, and style combined with design features including the renowned interchangeable tassel – a firm favorite with their customer. We also wanted to ensure we are inclusive as possible, hence making our core boot range available in 3 calf fits.

Throughout the decade building Fairfax & Favor, what are three main takeaways you learned as leaders? 

  • People skills – You need to make sure you have a strong team. Have the right people in the right jobs, because you can’t expect everyone to be good at the same thing. Skill set is key: if you find someone who has the right skill set for a role, you can expect them to flourish.
  • Freedom within a role – Once you get the right people in the right role, try and empower them as much as possible. I believe in giving people the freedom and empowerment to exceed on their own.
  • Mentality – Once you are confident with your team, lift them up and help them succeed. Almost have a mentality that you work for them!

    If you get all those things right, then you are on to a winner!

As business founders, how have you maintained a personal wellness practice?

Routine is key! I stick to a set morning routine and always make time to write in my gratitude diary! This has been a game changer and I believe has made me a positive person.  In addition to this, exercise is critical – I have found that this is the best way to switch off!

How do you create wellness within your team?

We feel like this is really embodied in the environment of our HQ, with it both being the central hub of where the brand started and set in rural Norfolk in the British countryside. We are lucky to have the fresh air on our doorstep and encourage the team to make use of time outside. 

We have also implemented ‘Wellness Wednesday’ – this initiative involves the full team, and allows us to engage and relax with each other. Our team has participated in yoga and walks, to name just a few – on these days, we also provide lunch. Pizza and charcuterie boards are always favored among the team!

What inspires you as designers and entrepreneurs? How do you continue to find new sources of inspiration?
The love for our customers! We aim to make each customer feel special and part of the Fairfax & Favor lifestyle and community — their opinion matters, and we listen.

The needs and desires of our customers always have and will be the driving force behind our ambitious brand. We work with a young and nimble team, who are constantly exploring new avenues and ways of engaging with customers. Our team is empowered to take informed risks and use their initiative to drive the brand forward – we want to rewrite the rulebook to deliver a great brand our way! 

Photo Credit: Fairfax & Favor

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered?

Definitely getting the brand off the ground back in 2013! We took many risks, and not all paid off. 

Our first mistake was storing our first batch of 390 boxes of shoes in my mother’s attic. Logistically, it was horrendous, and sweeping the boxes clean of dust each time we needed access to them was a nightmare! Still, we had our first collection of products, we had them stored somewhere safe, and we had a plan: to sell to wholesale by knocking on their shop doors and hoping they’d pay and take them off our hands (and out of the attic!). This was easier said than done…

One shop bought £80 worth of shoes, another agreed to take ten pairs and pay on sale, while another took some of our stock but, now we think of it, never actually paid. We made little money from this and didn’t clear much stock!

But we did learn something from this failure. If we ever wanted to clear the 300-plus pairs of shoes that were cluttering the attic, we only had one option: sell directly to consumers.

This changed our whole business model, and we entered our first show season in the UK, which was the best decision we made and has shaped the brand into what it is today.

Photo Credit: Fairfax & Favor

What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own business?
My main piece of advice is to have a business partner. Especially in the early days, it’s so important to have someone to bounce ideas and support what you are doing. (I hope Felix would say the same thing!) Though, you must be aligned with your business partner, and want to achieve the same end goal — it’s kind of like a marriage!

Another benefit of having a business partner is that there is always someone to celebrate with. Success by yourself is not that fun! But it’s also important to have them to evaluate the low times – we pick each other up and encourage each other to put our best foot forward and strive for success. 

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Feature image credit: Fairfax & Favor


  • Beth Doane

    Founder & Chief Visionary Officer | Author | Speaker


    Beth is an award-winning author, writer, and brand strategist. As co-founder of Main+Rose, she works with the world's most iconic leaders, world governments, and Fortune 500 companies.