What I Know About Style

Linda Simmons

Mary Portas’ Living & Giving, Notting Hill


Mary’s Living & Giving shop manager Linda Simmons-Mason on sharing, shopping and how she spends an ideal day in west London

What’s the concept behind the Living & Giving store?

The Living & Giving brand is not just about the shop; it’s a life philosophy. It’s about collaboration of people’s ideas, beliefs and values. It’s about creating and sharing. It’s about people giving time, energy and passion. And most importantly doing what they can. It is based on the idea of a cooperative – with community involvement at the heart of each of the individual shops. Living & giving should not just inspire the community; it should bring the community to life.

How did you get involved with Save the Children?

I have always been interested in anything to do with childrens’ charities and when I saw this amazing opportunity to work with Mary on the Westbourne Grove shop, I couldn’t pass it by.

Why did you choose Westbourne Grove for the first Living & Giving shop?

For the first London shop, Westbourne Grove offered an ideal location within an already established community of independent boutiques.

We hear there’s a waiting list for the store’s vintage Chanel bag collection. What else is particularly highly coveted?

Our handbag range extends beyond Chanel and has proved immensely popular with designer donations from Mulberry to Mischa Barton.

What’s your top tip for shoppers?

Shop when you have time to compare prices.

And your golden rule for independent shops?

Engage with the local community and businesses to develop a good relationship.

What’s your most memorable moment of the three series of Mary Queen of Shops?

Seeing the volunteers realise what can be achieved for Save the Children through embracing change.

What’s in your secret address book?

The Tabernacle.

How would you spend a lost day in west London?

Have brunch, then shopping with my daughter along Portobello Road.

What’s the most expensive item you’ve bought?

An Alexander McQueen dress from Mary’s Living & Giving Shop.

If your home was burning down, what three things would you rescue (other than family)?

I’d probably grab my handbag first, making sure my phone and sunglasses are inside; then my mother’s vintage jewellery.

What’s the best thing you can do in London without paying for it?

Visit the V&A Museum.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Spending the day in my pyjamas and reading fashion magazines.

Where’s next?

Lots of late-night events in the lead-up to Christmas at the shop on Westbourne Grove. Plus, the new shop is scheduled to open during December in Primrose Hill.

Mary’s Living and Giving Shop for Save the Children, 177 Westbourne Grove, London, W11; 020 7727 6166

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