You’re the founder of The Place London, can you tell us a bit about the concept of the store?
The idea behind the store is to offer clients, especially women, clothes that will make them look beautiful. I promote talented designers (young and also mature) and house their collections in a warm setting.
What drove you to set this up?
My passion for fashion and retail, and the belief that I could bring something different at a time when big brands dominate cities across the globe.
How does this role compare to your previous position as CEO at Browns?
It doesn’t. The scale is different. We employed 90 people at Browns and at The Place London we are 5. I opened The Place London in Paris in 2019, mirroring the women’s and men’s stores. We have a team of 4 there. It was something I had wanted to do with Browns, and as I had previously lived and worked in Paris for more than 20 years, and this excited me, it still does. The stores are located in a beautiful iconic street rue de L’Odeon in 6e that leads up to the Jardin du Luxembourg, a bit like being near Hyde Park.
The common thread with my past role is people, and I enjoy building teams.
How do you select your designers?
Alexandra de Witt is a talented fashion consultant – and also my partner in life – who helps me find designers. I also ask my teams. The designers must have a style and understand the importance of quality and value. As the stores are quite small (700sft), I am limited to the number of designers we carry, and customers like the fact that they can find something fresh and different.
What is your favourite thing about the work you do?
I really enjoy discovering talent, and usually, the person behind the product is interesting. In Menswear, I am developing a brand, “Leathersmith of London”, established in 1839. They make diaries, notebooks and small leather goods, which I am taking into lifestyle products (shirts, knitwear, outerwear) and selling in both my London and Paris stores.
Describe your perfect day in West London.
I am an early riser, so somedays combine a swim followed by a game of tennis, and then I go to work. Connaught Village is a delight because it’s far away from the hustle and bustle of town and only 5 minutes away on a bike from Mayfair. What tops the day is when customers shop in my stores. It’s a validation of my work.
What are your must-haves for an ideal shopping experience?
A warm welcome and knowing what you are talking about especially when it comes to a designer or/and a product. Customers are well informed, thanks to websites and social media, so you need to be on your toes. Shopping today is entertainment, so why not have a good time!
Why is it important to support local businesses more than ever post-pandemic?
If customers don’t support local businesses they will disappear. So providing that local businesses offer great service and product, with a genuine hello, and hopefully “something that will suit them and they will like, customers will return. Let’s face it, you have to have a good reason to go into town!