Anna Scaife, founder and creative director of ‘Anna Lou of London’, started her business in 2004 at a market stall in Portobello. Her jewellery was selling so well that Anna wanted to branch out, so she took her collection to Harvey Nichols, and much to her surprise they bought the whole collection! Anna’s collection has since grown and now has over 250 pieces. It’s a fun, youthful collection and in a few short years the flagship and diffusion ranges are stocked in over 200 stores!
Could you tell us about your fashion background?
AoL - I don’t have any formal fashion training but my business Anna Lou of London began when I sold my hand made bracelets on Portobello Road market in 2004. From there it was learning on the job and luckily I seem to have had the right mix of creativity, initiative and natural business sense. Jewellery has been close to my heart for a very long time. I always make things that I personally want to wear and I can’t help it but I’m always emotionally attached to every collection. I make it fun, confident, wearable and always colourful!
How important is the online aspect of your business?
AoL - Selling online has been tremendously successful for us. And we have worked with Adaptive Consultancy who have done a fantastic job working with us to improve our internet marketing efforts as well. The increase in our website size and sales is so much larger that we are having trouble keeping up with it, but it’s a problem we are grateful for! It’s how more and more of our customers shop these days and if they see one of our pieces in a magazine they can purchase it online in an instant. At this stage we only have one boutique in London so it’s often the best way for Anna Lou of London fans around the country and throughout the world can buy our accessories.
You also do wholesale - did you start this when you first began selling?
AoL - I started selling wholesale after I sold to our first customer Harvey Nichols in 2004. Now we now sell wholesale to many department stores, online companies in many different countries with Japan being the largest market at the moment. We have a concession in department stores Takashimaya and Hankyu and will working with L’EQUIPE” the clothing brand of BIGI group, directed by designer Yoshie Inaba, and they’ll be taking Anna Lou jewellery from Spring Summer 2010.
How has the recession affected your business? What changes have you experienced?
AoL - We’ve noticed consumers are being a touch conservative with their purchases – buying more classic items that will last them through different seasons. They also do their research before purchasing which is why our website is so important. Despite the recession, accessories are still items that consumers will splurge on as they can be worn with any number of outfits or freshen up clothes that are already in their wardrobe.
From a business perspective, we need to be more careful than ever with stock levels and forecasting.
Have you done collaborations with other companies?
AoL - Yes, we’ve worked with Nokia, Rayban, Reiss, Urban Outfitters, Stardoll, Oliver Bonas, Lovely Lovely and Laura Lees.
Which exhibits do you do? LFW, Pure etc
AoL - Premiere Classe, Paris.
What advice do you have for new accessories designers?
AoL - If you are comfortable in everyday life then that will come out in your designs. Make sure you always have sketch book in your bag and by your bed at the ready…you never know when ideas will come to you. On the business side, think big but grow organically. Often businesses fail when they grow too quickly and they can’t service their customers.
Celebrity Clientele: Kelly Osbourne, Kate Moss, Madonna, Kate Winslet, Peaches Geldof, Lily Allen, Emma Watson and Paris Hilton.