Ali Hall and Julie Lavington quit their jobs at the top of the magazine industry to found their own womenswear brand, Sosandar. They spoke to Drapers about their journey from headlines to hemlines.
With a combined 40 years of experience at the top of the magazine industry, Ali Hall and Julie Lavington, respectively former editor and publishing director of Look magazine, packed in their careers in publishing last November in order to launch their own womenswear label, Sosandar. The brand launched online on 19 September.
Why did you decide to launch your own brand?
Ali: Julie and I had always wanted to run our own business and it’s something we’ve talked about a lot. Between us we’ve spent more than 40 years listening to women talk about what they want from their wardrobes, and what was missing.
How long did it take to create the collection?
Julie: We left our jobs at Look at the end of October 2015, and the business started the day after we left, on 1 November. We didn’t even have a week off. It’s been very fast from literally a blank piece of paper to a full team of people, a full collection and a website ready to launch.
How did you work together to create the collection?
Ali: Having worked together for 10 years, we instinctively know what each of us is going to do without having to discuss it. It’s basically like we’ve been married for 10 years!
How much control do you have over the designs?
Ali: It’s the same sort of set up as we had at Look. I look after the creative side of things and Julie looks after commercial, but we both know everything about the business. Because this was the first collection, we’ve both been completely involved in the design process from the word go.
How would you describe the ethos of the brand?
Julie: The brand was born out of what women told us, rather than what we wanted for the brand. They also really want content and inspiration. We’re in the perfect position because we have experience of creating this kind of content. We’re integrating the content throughout the website, so people can come to us for content as well as clothing.
What inspired you in the design process?
Ali: We got inspiration from all sorts of places, from street style, from trends. We have been caught snapping women on the street – we take pictures of what they are wearing and ask them about it.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned so far?
Julie: Every day has been a huge learning curve. You have to be absolutely focused on what you’re doing. Never lose sight of where you’re going, you need to completely believe you can do what you say you’re going to do. Just never give up, even if you’re knocked back. When it’s your own business, it becomes all the more important.
What has been the highlight so far?
Ali: Getting to the point where we’re a week away from launch. We’re here, we’ve actually done it and now we’re about to launch, which is the most exciting bit. November last year we had a business plan and it’s a great sense of achievement to be here now.
Favourite places to shop?
Ali: Zara is my favourite, but I mix it up.
Julie: We’re both high street shoppers.
Ali: Julie and I are very similar, but I have a four-year-old. So I went to an all-inclusive in Menorca with a kids club, and Julie went to St Lucia.
Last book you read?
Ali: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
Julie: I’ve just read the sequel – After You
Last film you watched?
Julie: The Intern with Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro
Ali: I was a junior reporter in Cheshire
Julie: I started as a classified sales rep at a specialist magazine publishers
Julie: I’d do something in fitness – I’m one of those people who gets up at 5.30 to go to the gym
Ali: I love travelling, so something where I could go and stay in expensive hotels