With her womenswear retailer Blaiz, Stephanie Mordehachvili brings the best of Latin American brands to London shoppers.
London-based Blaiz launched as an etailer in 2015, stocking premium womenswear and accessories brands from South America, such as Arezzo, Shutz and Isla. Its first bricks-and-mortar store opened on King’s Road in Chelsea in January 2018, followed by a second in Marylebone last May. Prices range from £30 for a Bro Fitwear sports bra to £695 for a Iorane dress.
The business was founded by former finance professional Stephanie Mordehachvili, and now employs a team of 10. It has completed two funding rounds since it launched and, for 2019, is forecasting revenues of £1.5m-£2m.
What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
I confess I check my emails and messages (I do this multiple times in the night as well), although I should probably be meditating.
What was your first job?
I began my career in New York in investment banking at JP Morgan. I stayed in the financial world for a further nine years before beginning Blaiz.
How would you describe the brand in one sentence?
Blaiz is a multi-brand concept filled with surprising designers and beautiful finds inspired by the vibrant cultures of Latin America.
What’s your coffee (or tea) order?
Americano with soya milk, and lots of them.
Where are your favourite place to shop?
The malls in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and the Greek island boutiques. I am always looking for unique and unexpected pieces.
Last fashion purchase?
[Brazilian brand] Iorane sequinned dress for the Beating Hearts Ball [a fundraising gala dinner held by the British Heart Foundation]. You shimmer like a disco ball!
Emails or phone calls?
Emails mostly, but you can’t replicate a great phone call in writing.
Most important lesson you have learned during your career?
Treat all your counterparts with the respect you would like to be treated with, even if things aren’t going according to plan.
What would be your ideal office/meeting space?
Open-plan loft space with beautiful light, lots of foliage, art and inviting seating areas to inspire conversation – and with an endless supply of artisan coffee
What is your favourite part of the creative process?
That creativity comes to you when you least expect it. I have had many nights where I jolt awake with a creative idea that I make sure to write down straight away, as I often don’t remember them in the morning.
I also love to bounce creative ideas off my team to gain perspective.
What has been your proudest moment since you launched?
Opening our first store on King’s Road from our first funding round.
What’s the last book you read?
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. It is about the creation of Nike, and the challenges Phil faced through its journey. It is eye-opening to see how these global giant businesses have taken extreme perseverance and, of course, a little bit of luck. What the founders have in common is that they are obsessed with their company and even more obsessed with their competition.
Skiing in Gstaad. We have a chalet there and we take the little ones. Being in the mountains is magical.
Who in the fashion/retail industry inspires you?
I admire the true business people in the industry, as coming from finance I naturally view the fashion industry from a business perspective. The most prominent for me is Amancio Ortega, the founder of Inditex. It is just amazing how he made a whole Spanish town, A Coruña, into Zara’s home town, and how he grew the business into such an international success.
What is the biggest challenge facing fashion today?
Remaining current and responding to changing customer tastes, as well as the economic environment.
One piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Stay calm, view the big picture and enjoy every minute, even if the minutes seem unbearable (I did a lot of all-nighters in the office while in finance).
Who do you turn to when you need advice?
My mother, even at 33 …
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Pramming my two under-two babies around the stores, doing research into the retail landscape of our competitors.
What are you looking forward to most in the year ahead?
We have some exciting plans for the direction of the brand and the business, which we have got the wheels in motion for, and cannot wait to share.