Profile: Catherine Morris, The Rowland Company - Fashionably suited to PR/Catherine Morris has folded her business, Red Rooster, into Rowland

Orbital sanders turn Catherine Morris on. The founder of Red Rooster, who folded her fashion PR business into the Rowland Company this week, is really looking forward to getting her hands on some power tools. But this is not another of her projects to renovate an East End property.

Orbital sanders turn Catherine Morris on. The founder of Red

Rooster, who folded her fashion PR business into the Rowland Company

this week, is really looking forward to getting her hands on some power

tools. But this is not another of her projects to renovate an East End

property.



The ’merger’ with Rowland gives the 41-year-old the opportunity to

extend her skills in new areas such as interiors, cars and ... DIY

equipment.



But best of all, Morris says, the real benefit of the deal is that it

allows her to return to what she is good at: working with clients,

rather than wading through administration, worrying about office systems

or generally getting bogged down in the business of running a

business.



Last month, the agency Morris founded in 1991 with Tanya Lake split in

two, Lake becoming managing director of Red Rooster Beauty and Consumer,

and Morris becoming managing director of Fashion and Lifestyle.



The decision to form two separate companies was prompted by an offer to

buy the lease on its Regent Street offices and, she stresses, the split

was entirely amicable. Lake moved to new offices in Soho and Morris

rented space in Rowland’s offices. The latter has subsequently agreed to

transfer her clients and staff to Rowland and drop the Red Rooster name.

The agency effectively becomes Rowland’s fashion arm, with Morris at its

helm as director.



While Morris is keen to broaden her client base, she is far from casting

off her first love. Fashion is in her blood and her friends and former

colleagues describe her as ’having the best brain in that business’. Her

grandmother was a couture-level seamstress who first sparked Morris’

interest in clothes.



Morris, who was born in Manchester before emigrating with her family as

a baby and being raised in Canada, went to fashion college with the

intention of becoming a designer. She came back to England at 21 because

she was bored with Toronto and began work for the Burton Group in buying

and merchandising. After a couple of years, Burton offered her a press

office job, which was not something she had considered before, but which

got her involved in photo shoots, image creation, graphics and

branding.



Her proudest claim to fame during this period was getting Evans, which

specialises in clothes for big women, to use models ’who actually had a

bit of weight on their bones’.



One of her earliest contacts, and later most loyal client, was Red or

Dead, which had a concession in the Burton Group’s Top Shop. In those

days, the founders Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway had just left college

and had a market stall in Camden, rather than a multi-million pound,

ultra-trendy fashion house.



After a year as fashion editor of now defunct men’s mag Unique, Morris

became a freelance stylist, before working in Red or Dead’s press office

on a freelance basis, and it was Wayne Hemingway who suggested she set

up on her own.



Morris PR was founded in 1991. Within six months, it became obvious that

there was too much work for just herself. As a result, she teamed up

with Lake, who she had met at a dinner party and who was on the verge of

leaving Lynne Franks. Red Rooster was born, the name based on the legend

that roosters crow because they believe that if they don’t, the morning

won’t come.



The deal with Rowland frees her to get back to front-line work. PR

agency Origins partner Martin Evans, who has known her for 15 years,

says that she is an ideas person, brilliant at brainstorming, intuitive

and lateral.



She is never happier than when taking dead brands - the sorts of labels

that make the fashion conscious blanche - and making them cool

again.



This is the woman who got white stillettos into Vogue. Much as she might

be excited at trying her hand in other areas, fashion is her lifeblood,

as a slip of the tongue reveals. Talking about homewares and other

products she innocently remarks: ’That’s a whole new ball gown.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1987

Fashion editor, Unique

1991

Co-founds Red Rooster

1999

Folds Red Rooster Fashion and Lifestyle into the Rowland Company



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