Little Acorns: The next generation

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Ali Valentine has found a firm business footing in her homeland of North Wales, as Gun Trade News finds.

Her father Bob has been well known to the trade for years, but Alison Valentine has now crafted a reputation on her own merits. After working for the Beretta Gallery, she returned to the family shooting school in Llanbedrog, and has launched her own luxury brand, The Shoot Room. Here, she tells Gun Trade News about her childhood, her business philosophy and her raccoon-fur hats.

I was born on the beautiful Lleyn Peninsula, North Wales; and grew up along with my elder sister on our parents’ farm.

As a family we are passionate about the countryside, country life and country pursuits. Some 26 years ago my father established a shooting school, using the wonderful topography here. I’m bound to say it: he’s a great coach, and me being so impatient and eager to learn, he started me off aged eight. Twenty years on, and I’m his junior business partner. We have a full-time professional shooting school, covering 60 acres and with a lovely old traditional shoot room to boot.

As a child and a female at that, there was never anything suitable for me to wear – bulky shooting jackets designed for men were all that was available. Today, with a plethora of brands producing not only fabulously tailored outerwear for women but also children’s country clothes, we are spoilt for choice. Knowing these brands are already out there, I’d rather not try to reinvent the wheel. This is why I decided to focus my ‘By Ali Valentine’ products to accessories only. Accessorising your tweeds is, I believe, where the fun comes in.

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I know I’m fortunate to be born the daughter of a man established in the gun trade, and I hope my opinions are not blinkered, but on my travels I witness people wanting a share in the robust and healthy lifestyle that being in the outdoors delivers. Dressing well always delivers an important part of that ‘feel good factor’.

Our logo is part of that aesthetic, too. It features an Edwardian gentleman shooting with his wife perched behind on a shooting stick, applying lipstick holding her compact mirror. In fact, it’s a portrayal of how, during the ‘golden age’ of shooting, it became fashionable for women to accompany their men out in the field.

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It is not, however, a true portrayal of today, where, brilliantly, we are seeing more and more ladies in the line. I am a huge supporter of shooting and I take it as one of my duties to introduce more and more people into the sport.

By way of marketing I’ve launched www.alivalentine.co.uk, which allows online buying. A carefully managed database allows me to remain in contact electronically – and I do not forget the value of the printed word.

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I’m amazed and delighted by the reception my own branded products have had. The trick now is how to maintain this impetus, not only with web browsers, but also with the external stockists I have on board.

My business philosophy, and in fact my all-round philosophy, is that in a market that has grown rapidly over the past decade, you really do need to offer something different to succeed. The demand for finesse remains, but knowing what it was like to be that young lady wearing a bulky man’s coat, I firmly believe functionality is crucial.

With that in mind, you might wonder just how functional my huge raccoon-fur headbands are to shoot in. Take it from me – they’re practical, comfortable and they’ll certainly get you noticed.

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