Serial entrepreneur and star of Channel 4’s hit TV series Posh Pawn, James Constantinou, tells us about his life growing up in Weybridge and selling Queen Victoria’s underpants.
I was born in east London and moved to Weybridge when I was eight years of age. I spent much of my time back and forth to the East End as we had strong family ties with the area.
My earliest memory is shutting my dogs tail in the door of my father’s ford Cortina. It was really disturbing and I was so upset by it….The dog wasn’t too pleased either.
I went to Heathside School in Weybridge, but struggled at first due to not being up to speed with the rest of the kids. I was expecting to do a bit of colouring in but the other kids were reciting Shakespeare at the time.
My parents ran their own businesses and were always working, perhaps this is where I got my interest in making money and the workings of business.
The idea of becoming a high-end pawn broker evolved from being surrounded by what I thought were wealthy friends living in million pound mansions that almost overnight had the rugs pulled from under them by the banks. 2008 was a turning point and the banks were no longer lending. My friends had assets but no access to funds. I was fortunate as I had funds and liked their assets, it wasn’t brain surgery, well I didn’t think it was anyway.
I set up my first shop in Weybridge because I lived locally. Plus as an area it has a reputation for being the home of the wealthy well-heeled elite and obviously during the good times they had built up a bank of assets. So it was a case of right place at the right time.
The best thing about my job is not knowing what the day may hold or what it is that may land on my desk or walk through the door. We have seen Queen Victoria’s underpants, fossilized whale vomit and moon rock.
I think the show is so popular as it gives a real insight not only into the business but the clients lives. People are often amazed that the posh can also need cash in the same way anyone else would. I think this peep into their lives is the key to the show’s success.
I chill out at the weekend and have just taken up cycling. Both me and my fiancé Claudia enjoy eating out, long weekends away and keeping fit….in that order.