What gave you the idea for Violet May?
I was a business woman working in the online space running a web design & development agency so I had all this technology to hand- my PC, my Palm pilot etc and nothing fabulous to put it in- I looked for stylish, gorgeous items and no one was really doing anything. So the idea for luxury carry-wear for the boardroom was born. We started out with laptop bags and as our range has developed we are moving more into the lifestyle accessories space with our blackberry purse which doubles up as an evening clutch and the recent addition of travel accessories.
Your background is online-there is a lot of press currently about the rise in online sales- is this also your experience?
Yes absolutely. Given the current situation in offline retail in the UK and USA we’ve responded to this by focusing on growing the Violet May brand online in those particular territories through our online boutique www.violetmaylondon.com and developing our wholesale markets in the Middle East region where the offline market is still buoyant. We are launching in Bahrain in the New Year with a wholesale concession in a luxury lifestyle store.
As an up and coming luxury brand I think there is a real opportunity for executing a fantastic brand experience in the online medium- we’re in the process of creating some beautiful online advertising programs for next year which really make the most of what the medium has to offer. I think that the more mainstream luxury brands are still trying to define how to work digital into their brand offering whereas we are coming at it from the other direction.
What are the most important aspects of having an online business?
Aside from getting all the basics right such as a great online shopping experience and great online marketing programs we believe in providing a luxury service as well as a luxury product! I worked in the USA for ten years and have a very American approach to customer service.
We often get lots of compliments from our customers about our service levels- we respond promptly to questions, we provide as much information as possible during the shopping experience and if something is not exactly as the customer would wish we sort it out straight away- no quibbles. I think that people often assume that an online business is quite an anonymous medium - I actually find that my customers really engage with the brand and like to interact with us either via email, comments on our blog or the telephone if they need support with something.
I have been amazed by how much support, encouragement and ideas I receive from my customers- and I always, always listen to what they want!
What is your favourite item from your collection?
Without a doubt my Gold Python Blackberry Purse- ever since I designed this purse I have used it every single day- it’s a signature piece that glams up an outfit but is also super practical.