WHAT DOES A TYPICAL ‘DAY IN THE LIFE OF’ LOOK LIKE?
No day is the same! From setting strategy, reviewing business needs to attending buying shows across Europe to supporting on operational areas and styling new season looks for the web and our customers.
HOW DOES OLIVIA MAY CHOOSE THE DESIGNERS AND COLLECTIONS IT WANTS TO WORK WITH?
A point of difference in terms of style/cut ensuring the fabric quality holds the expression of the design. The quality and wearability are key, they need to be comfortable. We look for a story within the collection - print, colour or trend and that the designers passion comes through. We decipher what works together to make interchangeable outfits and check the reflection of the season before is felt to enable customers to wear past pieces. We always look for personality and strong identity which is true season after season.
WHY DID YOU SELECT OXFORD TO SET UP THE BOUTIQUE?
Its a cosmopolitan city with many nationalities therefore a good base to bring a select group of international designers. Its an aspired 'city to go out in' with many events, visitor attractions meaning its somewhere to go and get dressed up and a well-known city where customers will travel to.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES, LEARNINGS AND GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS?
My biggest challenges: letting go! - when it has just been you from the set up at the kitchen table to full 10+ team you have to accept a different role to focus on growth strategy.
My biggest learnings/achievements: Creating a business where people can grow and develop with the right structures and people. They have chosen to work with you and join you on this journey the least you can do is ensure it is exciting, stimulating and rewarding. Building recognition for the brands that offer difference and celebrate individuality in style and look when much of the high street offer is the same the challenge to be different and deliver to it - to actually do it is the greatest achievement!
HOW DO YOU SUPPORT SUSTAINABILITY OF THE FASHION INDUSTRY?
Sustainability is about making the supply chain fully transparent which we always look for with our designers. We buy in traditional seasons twice a year which removes us from buying mass-produced products on a monthly basis as 'fast fashion' does. We respect the designers' skill, craftsmanship and creativity meaning that a piece cannot be thrown away after one wear or season - quality provides longevity.
We focus on supporting customers in getting the best and most out of their purchases. The focus is about the quality of a piece so that it lasts beyond a season - and when the customer does want to part with their piece is still has life and enough quality to become a vintage piece!