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LONDON — Where others see history, Charles Aboah and his partners see opportunity.
Aboah, together with his wife, Camilla Lowther, and partners, Colin and Isabella Cawdor, are the founders of Compass Locations, a London-based internet company that scouts for photo and television shoots, corporate events, weddings and exotic holidays.
This story first appeared in the December 3, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The four deal in turreted towers à la Rapunzel, 18th century stone castles and stately London town houses with a lived-in feel. The partners are well-connected, so it’s no accident that most of the homes on the site belong to friends and family.
Colin is the 7th Earl of Cawdor, and belongs to one of Britain’s oldest aristocratic families, whose lineage goes back to Macbeth. A past Topshop campaign was shot on the Cawdor estate in Northern Scotland. Lowther, a creative agent whose clients include designer Julie Verhoeven and stylist Katie Grand, is a niece of the Earl of Lonsdale. Lowther Castle in Cumbria is one of the company’s locations.
Compass operates a Web-based library with 400 sites on five continents and in countries from Scotland to South Africa, although most of its work is U.K.-based. The partners pride themselves on conjuring the right mood for their clients.
“For a while, our fashion clients were all asking for ‘gilded squalor,’ ‘boho chic’ or what we like to call ‘oat bohemian.’ But now it’s a little more varied,” Aboah says.
The Web site — compasslocations.com — was founded a little more than a year ago and clients have included Burberry, Chloé, Tiffany, Max Mara, English, Italian and American Vogue, and British Telecom. Compass found the location — a grand London house on Cheyne Walk — for the latest Burberry campaign shot by Mario Testino.
On the site, clients can search by region or by feature — such as “rock garden,” “recording studio” or “cave” — download a photo and submit a request. Property owners hand Compass between 12 and 15 percent of the location fee, plus a one-time payment of $400. Clients pay the location fee and a $400 finder’s fee to Compass.
So far, says Colin Cawdor, all the requests that Compass has received have been almost too easy to satisfy.
“No one’s asked for a mine shaft or a lighthouse yet, but they can because we love a challenge.”