The Stamford independent womenswear retailer on celebrating 10 years in business and what she keeps in her attic.
Marion Lindley’s career includes stints working as fashion designer Jean Muir’s personal assistant and design assistant at Paul Smith. After concentrating on raising her three sons, she opened womenswear retailer Attic in Stamford with her sister-in-law Kathryn White, stocking brands such as American Vintage, Second Female and Great Plains. This year she celebrates their 10th year in business.
When and why did you launch Attic?
Attic was launched in 2006. I had moved to Stamford a couple of years earlier and, although it had a large number of independents, there was a shortage of clothes shops, and certainly no one offering fashionable, well-priced, stylish clothes for women my age.
What did you do before launching the store?
Before Attic opened I had spent the previous 10 years bringing up my three sons. My first job in fashion was with Jean Muir as her personal assistant. My husband’s job then took us away from London to Nottinghamshire and I landed my dream job as design room assistant to Paul Smith. The company was quite small at the time and we were all very hands on. I did all sorts from grading patterns to making up swatch books and selling the collection in Paris.
You are celebrating your 10th anniversary this year – how does it feel?
I can’t really believe it’s been 10 years – the time has flown by. I wonder whether that’s because in fashion you are always working at least six months in advance, always looking forward, planning ahead.
What other indies do you admire?
I do like The Hambledon in Winchester – the store is beautifully styled with well curated brands and a lifestyle offering. I recently visited House of Hackney [in London’s Shoreditch] for the first time – it is quite unique with a clear vision and style, and exquisite fabrics.
What’s the best thing about running an independent store?
Being able to offer customers clothes I feel are interesting, not run of the mill, and well made that will excite them whenever they wear them.
What are the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge for me is managing the stock levels to ensure we keep new stock arriving throughout the season and, I’m sure Kathryn would say managing the cash flow.
You opened the store with your sister-in-law. What are the pros and cons of this?
The pros are that we knew each other a long time before we opened the shop, and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The con I suppose is that we never switch off from the business – there is always analysis of how things are going over the Sunday lunch table, with our husbands trying to offer us advice.
What’s your favourite part of the season?
I love the fact that fashion is always evolving and enjoy the anticipation at the start of each buying season, visiting suppliers and shows. Everyone gets very excited when the deliveries arrive in store, including our customers, which is great.
As a store owner you’re surrounded by clothes all day, do you still enjoy shopping?
I love shopping and find it energising and inspiring. I think you can find inspiration anywhere – I am always curious to see how stores dress their windows and put looks together, and how they merchandise in store. I’m not an internet clothes shopper – I like to feel the fabrics and see the true colours and would never buy without trying on.
What’s the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
I have several pieces of vintage Jean Muir and Paul Smith from the 1980s that I would never part with.
What of brand is currently missing on the market that you love to be able to stock?
We struggle to find on-trend dresses with sleeves.
Whom do you admire most in the industry?
I really admire Sir Paul Smith. He has a great curiosity and can find inspiration in the most mundane items. He has managed to build a global business and still remains a genuinely nice guy.
What do you do to switch off from work?
Yoga, running and cooking.
Tell us something not many people know about you.
I’m a big fan of Sunderland Football Club
What’s in your attic?
My attic is full of my husband’s sailing paraphernalia.
Favourite clothing brand?
Favourite places to shop?
Loft in Notting Hill and department store Liberty
Last fashion purchase?
An American Vintage jumpsuit
Biggest fashion splurge?
An Isabel Marant black crepe jacket
Last book you read?
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
Last film you watched?
Bridge of Spies
Saturday girl in a boutique
I’ve got it!