Gwyther says being prepared is the key to success
'Working for Mario Testino was like university for me'

Huw Gwyther is publisher and founder of the style and arts magazine Wonderland. He won the funds to launch the magazine on the BBC's Dragons' Den series.

What did you want to be as a child?

I always loved magazines – Smash Hits and The Face, then Vogue and Harper's Bazaar – because I escaped reality into an amazing fantasy. So I wanted to be someone who put a magazine together.

Did you go to university?

I was encouraged to do anything but fashion design at my boarding school. But I did a fashion foundation course at Ravensbourne and then a BA in fashion design at Central St Martins.

Was the BA worth it?

I learnt a lot but it was the contacts I made that were most important. After graduating, I was offered a design job in Paris, and I was introduced to the photographer Mario Testino and worked for him for four years in Paris and London.

What were the best and worst parts of it?

I enjoyed every single second; working for Mario was a bit of a university for me. Then he got me a job with the fashion magazine V in New York. I had become his studio manager by then, but I wasn't learning anything new and he saw that.

How did you set up on your own?

I realised I didn't want to work for someone else, so I came back to the UK and did a business plan and approached investors. When I heard about Dragons' Den I knew the panel of five had the money to get my business off the ground, even if it meant I'd have to go on TV. Four people dismissed it as too risky, but Peter Jones took a gamble. I raised £200,000, including Peter's investment, and that was enough to start.

Do you consider yourself to be successful?

Not yet.

What's the best decision you've made?

Sticking to my guns about what I wanted to do, even though it was risky.

Your interview tips?

Be prepared. Before Dragons' Den I wrote a huge speech and memorised it non-stop for a week.

And your CV tips?

It should summarise your achievements and ambitions. I wouldn't read anything longer than a page.

What motivates you?

I want to look back on my life and see myself successful in publishing. Success means something I'm in charge of and enjoy, giving me a decent income.

Who are your heroes?

I look up to Mario, a much cleverer man than people think, and Tom Ford, who's an incredibly smart businessman in a creative field.

How do I get to be where you are?

Find the magazine or the person you admire most and work for them, even if it's for free. Learn. Only start a business if you know it inside out.

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