Alex Proud, owner of Proud Galleries talks to Kingsroad.co.uk about celebrity customers, running a successful business and King’s Road heritage. Proud Galleries has been going strong since 1998 and now has galleries and event spaces across London. Proud Chelsea opened at 161 King’s Road in November 2009.
What's the story behind Proud Chelsea?
Following the success of our central and Camden galleries, we wanted to open a dedicated gallery space in a fantastic location and when I came across the site on the Kings Road, it was too good a spot to pass up. The Kings Road has such a fantastic rock & roll heritage so it fits perfectly - our gallery used to be Apple Tailoring owned by the Beatles.
What do you love about King's Road?
I love the Kings Road's cultural heritage and buzziness - it really is different from any other road in London.
What are your favourite places to shop on King's Road?
I love Partridges in Duke of York's Square for their amazing food and the shop at Proud Chelsea for photography books, which make perfect presents.
Can you reveal any famous customers who have been into Proud Galleries in Chelsea?
Mick Jagger came to our launch, Bob Geldof has been in, Janice Dickinson... Proud Galleries has always attracted famous faces.
Where do you like to eat out locally?
There are some brilliant restaurants in Chelsea. Tom Aikens, (43 Elystan Street), The Pig's Ear (35 Old Church Street), eight over eight (392 King’s Road), Picasso Cafe (127 King’s Road). We have a great shot of Picasso Cafe from the 60s.
What's in the gallery at the moment?
We have an absolutely stunning exhibition of Audrey Hepburn portraits by the late, great, Bob Willoughby, which includes some very rare original and vintage prints, printed and signed by Willoughby himself. This is one of the very best exhibitions we have ever had the privilege to host in terms of stunning archival photography and investment opportunity. Downstairs we are displaying the very best of our permanent collection including iconic shots like the Sgt Pepper Album cover, David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs and Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
The new Moby album, 'Destroyed', which was launched at Proud Camden last week in conjunction with his first UK photography exhibition.
Three things you can't live without?
My ipad, my wife and my children…but not in that order!
Who are your favourite local personalities?
There are some great Chelsea personalities, lots of them came out of the woodwork when we had our 'Sex, Drugstores and Rock 'n' Roll: A History of the Kings Road' exhibition. They have all lived and worked in the area for years and knew all the faces in the prints we exhibited.
What's your top tip for running a business and what would you do differently?
Communication is key: make sure you know what is going on at all levels in your business. And learn how to manage a balance sheet! Everything I’ve learned has come from the successes and failures that came along the way, so I wouldn't do anything differently – or I wouldn't be where I am today.