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Chrissie Rucker is a British Businesswoman, founder and Director of The White Company. After leaving school at 16, Chrissie worked for a wedding dress designer and as a receptionist at Conde Nast, from where she moved into fashion journalism.

Chrissie Rucker

During a refurbishment of her boyfriend’s home, Chrissie found it was impossible to find white home-wares in national retailers that were both affordable and good quality. After extensive market research she found that white bed linen, table covers, towels and china, were generally either poor quality and cheap or luxury items that were too expensive for the majority of consumers. From this quest sprang one of the most successful retail enterprises of modern times. Chrissie launched The White Company as a mail order business in 1993 with the aim of providing excellent quality white products at an affordable price. She left her job as a beauty journalist on Harpers & Queen and started to build the business from scratch, with a £6,000 legacy from her Grandmother and a small government grant.

She produced her first mail-order catalogue, a 12-page leaflet, on a computer in her boyfriend’s attic, delivering her first orders in her sister Jo’s Mini Metro. The company was an instant hit, turning over £258,000 in its first year.

Chrissie’s mission for The White Company was to specialized in supplying stylish products, principally in white, not traditional, not cutting edge, just beautifully designed, simple, elegant pieces, timeless but with individuality and style. She also wanted a company that made its customers feel welcome and provided an unparalleled shopping experience across every channel.

The company has developed according to phases in her own life. In 1996, after the birth of her first child, The Little White Company was introduced offering children’s bedding, clothes and nursery furniture. The desire for pretty nightdresses when she was pregnant led to a nightwear line. Year by year, fragrances, clothing, gifts, Christmas products and garden furniture were added to the mix. Sofas and chairs are now shouldering their way in. What started as a 12-page brochure now runs to 130 pages. A staggering 10 million copies are sent out in Britain a year, four million in the United States, roughly on a monthly cycle.

“I had a young, naïve approach to the whole thing and just thought I’d give it a shot. Never in my widest dreams did I imagine it would grow into what it’s become today”. This year her company expects to turnover £180 million. In addition to the mail order businesses, The White Company has 56 stores in Britain and 11 franchise stores abroad and employs 1,300 people. Her business sells everything from £20 scented candles to £200 cashmere jumpers, and while she has branched out to shades such as ‘biscuit marl’ and ‘cloud grey’, Chrissie remains obsessed with all things pale. The White Company has made Chrissie one of the wealthiest women in Britain, with an MBE for services to the retail trade. She lives with her husband, Nick Wheeler founder of the Charles Tyrwhitt shirt company, their four children and three dogs in Buckinghamshire.

Chrissie’s mission for The White Company was to specialized in supplying stylish products, principally in white, not traditional, not cutting edge, just beautifully designed, simple, elegant pieces, timeless but with individuality and style. She also wanted a company that made its customers feel welcome and provided an unparalleled shopping experience across every channel.

So, why is she a #Houseproud hero?

The genius of The White Company is that it aims to sell not just the whitest, fluffiest towels but the idea that serenity and a good night’s sleep reside in the flickering of a scented candle, the crispness of a cotton sheet or a spritz of White Lavender pillow mist. Even people who don’t necessarily think of themselves as White Company disciples find sooner or later that they are sleeping in Chrissie Rucker’s Egyptian sheets and slouching in her Hydrocotton robes. She’s introduced a whole generation to the perfectionist world of handworked ladder-stitching and embroidered French-knot flowers. The White Company us an amazing retail success story. She says

“I like everything to feel calm and peaceful. For me, what using white does is bring that calmness, peacefulness, serenity. We all have such hectic lives, living on the end of our iPhones, constantly in touch. The real beauty of white is that whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever your style, it works brilliantly. It’s a perfect canvas, a starting block. I would hate anyone to think we are trying to dictate: anyone creating a home can layer on top of that their own personality.”

Want to find out more?

The White Company on Twitter