Julie Oxberry

CEO and co-founder, Household

Julie is considered one of the leading influences in modern Retail, Hospitality, and Experiential Brand Design. With a career spanning over 30 years and an enviable list of loyal clients, Julie has established a deep understanding of how UK and global consumer behaviour and thinking have evolved.  

Julie co-founded Household as a company of creative experts focused on innovation design for brand and experiences across retail, entertainment, hospitality and well-being. They are focused on creating better futures with brands and their fans globally. 

She contributes regularly to publications, design awards judging, seminars and panel discussions on a wide range of topics relating to brand, retail, and hospitality.

1. What values are most important to you as a leader? 

  • Vision
  • Communication
  • Entrepreneurial spirit/resilience
  • Empathy/authenticity/humility 
  • Honesty/transparency
  • Respect
  • Humour and a strong sense of the absurd.

2. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

Leaders who infuse energy, passion and connection into their actions and behaviours, with a clear vision and integrity, who have a deep sense of purpose and responsibility to create positive change. There are many, but two spring to mind through their words, actions, and beliefs:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion of gay rights, women’s rights, the poor, and many other marginalised groups, in the US Supreme Court of all places! “Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
  • Maria Eitel, Founder of The Nike Foundation and Girl Effect.  Girl Effect believes that by removing barriers and creating opportunities for adolescent girls improves not just a girl’s life, but that of their family, community, and nation. Its goal is to help 250 million young girls below the poverty line through four key areas: ending early marriage and delaying first birth, enhancing the health and safety of girls, increasing secondary school completion, and improving access to economic assets. The work of Girl Effect has already helped millions of girls in poverty around the world. Maria believes that safe, diverse, and inclusive workplaces lead to stronger and more profitable businesses and unleash creativity.

3. Best piece of advice you have been given?

In business: By our original NED as we waded through two recessions: “Hold your nerve!”

In life: “(Don’t) Hold your horses!”

4. What would you tell your younger self?

Get on with it! I’m still telling myself that now. But on reflection, taking time out after university to live in the USA, travel, study design, learn the drums, go on TV, and kick my shyness into touch was the best grounding for setting up a business. Variety really is the healthiest spice in life.

5. What has been your most important or profound lesson as a leader?

Create a shared sense of purpose. It’s important to create this among employees and encourage them to work together towards a common goal, through a culture of transparency and accountability.

Give context. Having honest conversations with employees about the bigger picture and how the company is doing, is vital. Be open, empathetic, inform and listen to employees, and continually engage with them..

Be aware of your limits. You don’t need to know the answer to everything. Focus on what you know and seek sound advice from experts you like, for those things you don’t know. Then help the team develop answers, support, guide, and stand behind them when they are successful

Don’t put on a ‘face’. Be always your true self and have the strength to be different and vocal.

Embrace Risk. Even if the outcome may not be successful

Create an inclusive culture. Listen more than you speak, value diversity, welcome mistakes, reward originality and appreciate the unique differences of others.