Over 30 years of fitting in the Virgin family

During the final fitting for my Virgin Galactic spacesuit, I had the pleasure of reliving countless memories with Karen Sparrow – who has been part of the Virgin family for more than 30 years.

Richard Branson

Karen joined Virgin back in 1987 and has journeyed from the skies to the stars with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic. 

It was wonderful to sit down with Karen and recount some lovely memories – from helping Karen serve drinks on-board to modelling new uniforms on several different catwalks over the years. 

Richard Branson and cabin crew

Karen became a Virgin Atlantic cabin crew member as soon as she turned 21-years-old. At the time, we had just 200 people in the team and were flying two B747 aircraft between London and Miami, and London and Newark. In 1995, Karen moved into the uniform department and helped launch one of my favourite collections designed by Elizabeth Emmanuel.

It’s been wonderful to cross paths with Karen over the years. As we discussed different hues of blue for the Virgin Galactic spacewear, we remembered everything from the time she came to our house in Holland Park to present the Virgin Nigeria uniforms, to co-ordinating Virgin Atlantic ‘s uniforms designed by John Rocha. This design went on to change the face of the entire Virgin Atlantic workforce as part of the millennium re-brand.

Cabin Crew

I remember receiving an e-mail from Karen back in 2009 with the news she had been headhunted by the London 2012 Olympic Committee to lead their uniform programme. While it was sad to lose Karen, I encouraged her to seize the opportunity. When you run your business like a family, you need to support the paths your people follow, help them to fulfil their potential and welcome them back with open arms if you can.  

Karen Sparrow and Richard Branson

Fast-forward to July 2018 and Karen did just this and became Virgin Galactic’s Onboard Experience Manager. Given her history and experience in the industry, it seemed only fitting (pardon the pun) to get Karen’s help in designing our future astronauts spacesuits.

I couldn’t be more impressed with the design that Virgin Galactic and Under Armour delivered - with big thanks to Karen’s dedication and expertise. 

From the sky to the stars, it’s been quite the journey and I’m looking forward to making more memories with Karen for many years to come.

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