The owner of London indie Love KR tells Stephen Spear whether she has any regrets about moving from wholesale into retailing.
Why did you pick last year to go into retail?
I live on Kensal Rise in north London and this great little space opened up next to the train station, sparking thoughts of retail. I loved working in wholesale, but the chance to do something of my own sent shivers of excitement down my spine. I went for it and, thankfully, it all went through very quickly.
Didn’t the tough economy put you off?
I figured it was about managing costs and that’s been the case. I don’t employ and my buying is super-tight. But that doesn’t mean I’m playing safe, product-wise. You have to go for what you love and hopefully the customers will respond in the same way.
Did you learn a lot in wholesale?
Yes, most recently at [womenswear business] Oui Group for three years – which was a great experience and they were really supportive of my move. In 10 years working under Harry Rogers [formerly of Aitch/Naughty Clothing Co] I learned every aspect from design and product development to costing and importing. At [Italian clothing and textiles firm] Miroglio I was brand manager for womenswear label Caractere and looked after key stores like Harrods, Selfridges and Fenwick and spent a lot of time visiting high-end indies. It was around then that I started thinking about opening my own shop.
What’s been the best bit of moving into retail?
The buying. I love clothes and fashion, so it would be, right? But there are loads of fun elements and satisfying ones too. Getting the logo right, for instance – I worked with a designer to create something classic, a bit art deco and timeless, but also brought up to date.
Do you have any regrets about making the leap?
No, although managing everything myself has been a big adjustment. I wake up excited about the good bits more often than I do worrying about the negative.
Are the brands supportive?
Amazingly so. They’ve let me make small orders and replenish often. I’m aware of the pressure brands come under to stick to their delivery schedules, but I have a different agenda now and they have been really accommodating.
How did you arrive at your brand mix?
I targeted independent brands that I love and felt my friends would. I also felt it was important to have a mix of price points, which has worked well.
What’s worked best?
Sara Berman’s hippie chic dresses have sold really well, with suede ankle boots from Hudson – a real urban glam look. Every footwear style from Hudson has been great, it’s a fantastic design-led brand at a great price. Maison Scotch is strong on everyday separates, and its chinos and T-shirts have been exceptional. Des Petits Hauts’ knits and blouses come in beautiful colours and fabrics perfect for teaming with jeans. I’m selling lots of scarves; Danish brand Becksöndergaard has been amazing and Lily and Lionel’s oversized silk python scarves sell like hot cakes.
What is your fashion must-have?
New boots or shoes are always a lift. Also I love a statement handbag and I’m looking forward to my Sara Berman (pictured) ponyskin one for this autumn.
What autumn 11 trend are you most looking forward to?
The 1960s trend, with sharper coats and cleaner graphics.
What store inspires you and why?
I love Wolf & Badger [in Notting Hill, London]. It has a great concept and a fantastic website.
Who is your style icon and why?
I love the look of cool 1960s girls like Jane Birkin, beautiful, cool and sexy.
- Paula Fitzpatrick is owner of contemporary womenswear indie Love KR of Kensal Rise, north London