Matches Fashion, Mayfair

A pioneering response to the changing retail landscape
by Charlotte Roberts

With the High Street under threat and online companies such as Amazon doing so incredibly well, it’ll come as no surprise to hear that retailers are having to be imaginative (to say the least!) in order to reach their consumers. Matchesfashion.com has pioneered this change by becoming so much more than simply any other online fashion store.

They have taken over 5 Carlos Place, in the heart of London’s luxurious Mayfair to offer not just designer fashion, but events, private shopping and a creative broadcasting place with the aim to create a community for their customers.

Lovingly restored by Architects P Joseph, the house now feels more like the private home of a well-travelled couple; brimming with items they have collected on their travels.  The garden has a similar theme; that of a slightly eccentric Victorian traveller, and is a great space for visitors to envelope themselves away from the city on their doorstep.  Spread over 5 floors, you can shop and try on the full online store with the help of an iPad, whilst enjoying beautifully curated themes and collaborations from both leading and up-coming designers on the ground floor.  On the second floor there is an event space dedicated to all manner of events, from dinners and masterclasses, to debates and musical performances.

September 2018 offered cocktails with Mario Sorrenti and an exclusive signing of his book of never-before-seen photographs of Kate Moss, and a chat with East London fashion designer Lulu Kennedy.  Unfortunately my visit didn’t happen to fall on either of these days!

As I ventured further up the staircases I found a space dedicated to a bespoke shopping experience where you can book a stylist team to help curate your own designer wardrobe, and finally there is the broadcast studio where the house’s rich library of podcasts and films are recorded for broadcasts to the wider online community.

All in all, definitely one to watch. The way we shop is changing and Matchesfashion.com is paving the way.

 

Benamôr, Lisbon

One of Portugal's oldest and most beloved beauty brands

by Millie Edwards

LX Factory, Lisbon

An authentic regeneration of a post-industrial area

by Tracey Pollard

Beulah

Head of Sales, Sophie Caulcutt

interviewed by Charlotte Roberts

Fellpack, Keswick

Hearty, modern fare for fell-walkers in the heart of the Lake District

by Rosie Higgins

Grace Dent, the cumbrian native and once Evening Standard, now Guardian, restaurant critic is an understandably vocal proponent of her home-county. All the better for my family who spend a lot of time there, as the place my mother is also from. But whilst it is not unusual for Grace…

Schofield’s Bar

Co-founder, Daniel Schofield

interviewed by Zoe Schoon

You’re opening Schofield’s with your brother Joe, who won International Bartender of the Year in 2018.  It’s interesting how you’re both in the same field.  Can you tell us what drew you both to Bartending in the first place? Joe actually started working in a local pub at the age…

Imad’s Syrian Kitchen

Founder, Imad Alarnab

interviewed by Thea Rowe

After fleeing Syria, Imad was determined to rebuild his life and successful restaurant business in London. Imad’s Kitchen is authentic Syrian cuisine cooked from the heart. It must have been so hard leaving your home, and successful restaurants in Syria as a result of the war, what does it mean…

Holly & Co

Founder, Holly Tucker MBE
interviewed by Emily Spencer

Holly & Co is an online and offline community which supports, advises and champions the small businesses of the world.

As the founder of the hugely successful ‘Not on the High Street’ online store, what made you decide to set up Holly & Co?

After building and growing NOTHS for over 10 years, I had a unique overview of the small business journey, unlike anyone else has had. I was able to see first-hand that although every creative small business was unique in their offering, in fact, they pretty much went through the same journey. It quickly became clear, that now small businesses had marketplaces to sell (which really didn’t exist before NOTHS), what they actually needed was the more holistic side of things. Someone who could offer business advice for the left side of the brain, a place which gave colourful and practical advice on how to run a business, whilst at the same time inspiring, as well as creating a community of small businesses and a support network, as life as a small business can be very lonely.

Do you feel this new venture is more aimed towards the local resident, or is the internet just as important?

Holly & Co is made up of two parts; the online resource which has global reach, and the Work/Shop; which we call the heart of Holly & Co, which has a more local focus.

Holly & Co online is available to everyone. We’re setting out to be a global resource, that can support, advise and inspire all small businesses. We have a community where people can discuss and network online, a stories library filled with original and curated content designed to inspire, a shop, a blog and a Pharmacy ‘first aid for business’ which is designed to demystify business.

Our physical Work/Shop showcases small businesses and is the first of its kind in the world, each month it reinvents itself to showcase a different artisanal industry. We’ve been the florists, the artists, the bakers…. everything from our products, events and food changes to reflect the theme. It’s a place of inspiration and enables me to really understand what it means to have a retail space on the high street. I’m passionate about championing the independent high street and starting a wider conversation about what needs to change to stop the clone towns, but I also believe in walking the walk (not just talking the talk). Having a physical space has been an eye opening experience for me, particularly having only been online for the past 11 years!

Will there be more shops in the future?

There are no plans to open more Holly & Co shops for now, the Work/Shop will be one of a kind, but we have big plans for Holly & Co…offline as well as online.

The shop has a very local / community vibe, if you plan to expand how will you retain this?

I believe you can take that feeling you receive offline and amplify it online. I’m firmly committed to the mission (always have been) in ‘scaling the unique’. It’s certainly not easy and most brands never achieve it. However, if you continue to have the goal of finding this magical formula at your heart, I believe the path won’t see you do much wrong.

What is your one piece of advice for anyone considering opening their first business?

Trust your gut! I’ve paid the price every time I decided to ignore it, or look the other way!

What are the current trends in the marketplace and do you see these changing anytime soon?

More and more I’m seeing people buy into the stories behind pieces. We went through a phase that continues, where all that matters is the hard side of retailing – price, service and delivery. I think we are now entering a period, where people care far more about the origin of what they’re purchasing. They are looking to engage, rather than continue on a vacuous journey of accumulating things.

Technology has given us more time back in our lives, and yet we all seem to have a compulsion in using that time to go faster. I think we’re now all waking up to a need to allocate some of that time to things that make us feel human, these include experiences, stories and origin.

Which brands are you most excited by and why?

  • NOTHS – excited to see what the next 10 years bring and how it will lead the way when it comes to selling products made by small businesses, within the freelance economy.
  • FREDDIES FLOWERS – I love watching the success of good subscription businesses.
  • GRAIN & KNOT – we’re now living in a time where hand-carving spoons for a living is possible. This passion for niche is what makes me get out of bed in the morning and grow Holly & Co.

Where have your biggest influences come from?

I’m influenced by ‘small’, and as I feel like I’ve not got every qualification going, when it comes to the inner workings of small businesses, it’s the nuggets of gold that I come across, right from the grassroots of these makers, entrepreneurs and taste makers that influence me the most. They always have.

Did you find that already owning a successful business created a springboard for the new company?

I built NOTHS over 10 years because I fundamentally believe in the importance of shining a light on small creative businesses. They bring colour to the every-day grey, and their power is set to grow as the freelance economy really takes hold.

There is no doubt that as the co-founder of a brand like NOTHS, as well as UK Ambassador for Small Creative Businesses, plus being awarded my MBE, doors have certainly been opened to me that would have been shut first time around. However, I have also been aware that all eyes have been on me this time as I launched Holly & Co, it certainly isn’t for the faint hearted!

Where do you see the brand in 10 years time?

Holly & Co will continue to go from strength to strength, I have no doubt of that. Its heart is one of seeking to do good, coupled with a fantastic team who believe in the mission as strongly as I do. With a strong and beautiful brand, there’s no limit to what we can achieve. The beauty in Holly & Co, is that it’s scalability is based on the community and people engaging with us. The bigger our community, the stronger our voice. A company built on these foundations is a powerful force to be reckoned with.

holly.co

Yolk

Founder, Nick Philpot

interviewed by Katherine Hajiyianni

Luna Mae London

Founder, Claudia Lambeth

interviewed by Charlotte Roberts

Bad Brownie

Co-founder, Paz Sarmah

interviewed by Thea Rowe

The Vurger Co.

Co-founder, Rachel Hugh

interviewed by Tracey Pollard

Rachel and Neil began The Vurger Co to elevate the humble veggie burger using the very best vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes, Rachel and Neil began The Vurger Co to elevate the humble veggie burger using the very best vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes. How has the fast casual dining…

The Marshmallowist

Founder, Oonagh Simms

interviewed by Emily Spencer

Founded by Oonagh Simms who was inspired by the Parisian’s passion for the confectionery treat, the Marshmallowist is the first producer of gourmet marshmallows in the UK. After studying as a chocolatier in Paris, what made you decide to focus your business in producing marshmallows? Well, I originally trained in…

The Swallow Bakery

Founder, Andrew Thomas

interviewed by Charlotte Roberts

The Swallow Bakery is a handcrafted artisan bakery and cafe, founded by Andrew Thomas who has taken influences from Australia, America and Scandinavia. You came from a fashion background, why did you choose to open a bakery? I guess you could have asked the similar question to Irvine Sellar, he…

Randy’s Wing Bar

Co-founder, Richard Thacker
interviewed by Dominic Tixerant

Inspired by North America and created in London, Randy’s Wing Bar launched in 2013.

At what point did the idea turn from a concept into a reality?
The idea turned into reality on our launch night when 200 people came through the doors of the pub where we did our first kitchen takeover. It was a true baptism of fire, and made us realise how much we enjoyed it and how much people enjoyed our wings. It also made us realise how much we had to learn. So we did!

As a young start up, what has been the hardest thing to deal with?

As well as having a great professional network supporting us and offering advice we’ve also met a lot of people and businesses who don’t want us to succeed. Some of those that consider themselves bigger players will do what they can to make things difficult for you if they feel threatened, but it’s important not to let them. Also due to competition and London rents, getting a foot in the door with landlords is often very difficult as they only want the big brands as they feel their rental income is more guaranteed.

What have been the main contributors to your brands success?

Our excellent product and belief in the brand is obviously key, but so too is hard work and listening to the advice of others who have been there before. We’ve always taken every opportunity to ask questions and listen to the advice of people who have been in the industry a lot longer than us, and although we’ve taken a few chances we’ve never thought that we knew it all, and are as aware of our weaknesses as we are of our strengths. Extensive research and analysis of all situations have also helped us in our decision making.

You set up with your business partner Andy, what would your advice be to any other entrepreneur’s thinking of starting up together?

Having a business partner that you can trust and respect is fantastic and key to success. You can bounce ideas off each other, make use of each other’s skill sets and know that there is always someone else there as dedicated as you are. It’s allowed us to make some truly great decisions that are reflected in every aspect of the brand and business. Compromise and listening to each other’s opinions is key and more often than not it leads to a killer hybrid idea!

What are your current plans for your brand/restaurant?

We have a modest but thorough expansion plan. We feel it is key to perfect each site before considering the next. Each site, although recognisable as a Randy’s Wing Bar, will be unique, it means that the role out plan is never quite the same and therefore each one will require its own special attention to detail. We are also currently working on bottling our sauces and are in discussions with a supermarket brand to get them stocked on the shelves.

Where do you believe the next exciting food hub will be and why?

Pin pointing one specific up and coming food hub is difficult. London is expanding and regenerating so fast that so many parts of London are becoming exciting. It doesn’t matter if you are in zone 1 or zone 3, it is happening. There is obviously a lot going on around places like Kings Cross, and Brixton continues to expand but I think Hackney has still got a lot left in it, particularly in and around Hackney Wick. I may be bias as I live east, but I think west London is a bit behind in terms of options and different offerings so I think there is a lot of potential to expand there.

www.randyswingbar.co.uk

Pampelone

Founder, Holly Anna Scarsella

interviewed by Emily Spencer

Kalimera

Founder, Télémaque Argyriou

interviewed by Alex Mann

Duke & Dexter

Founder, Hugh Wolton

interviewed by Dominic Tixerant

Swingers

Founder, Jeremy Simmonds

interviewed by Alex Mann

Founded by the Institute of Competitive Socialising, Swingers is based on a 1920’s golf-club set in the English countryside. Swingers takes crazy golf, street food & amazing drinks combining them all into one incredible social experience At what point did the idea turn from a concept into a reality? We…

SØRENSEN

Founder Wayne Sorensen

interviewed by Emily Dumbell

A British fashion brand inspired by artists, drivers and butchers. Wayne Sorensen began working on SØRENSEN in 2015 and was inspired by the work ethic of archetypal professions. What have been the main contributors to your brand’s success? I found myself surrounded by an amazing group of individuals who are…

London Grace

Founder Kristen Hazel

interviewed by Alex Mann

Upon returning from New York, founder Kristen Hazel wanted to create a nail bar with quality products and convenient hours. London Grace has become an award winning nail bar, cafe and bar with their own collection of free-from nasties nail polishes. What is your background and how did it lead…

Pergola on the Roof

Founder Charlie Gardiner
interviewed by Alex Mann

Designed as a vision of the Mediterranean, Pergola on the Roof is a piece of sunny European escapism. Pergola on the Roof was inspired by founder, Charlie Gardiner’s love of European al fresco dining.

Where have your biggest influences come from?

My biggest influences in terms of Pergola on the Roof have come from spending a lot of time in France and Italy as a child eating al fresco, and in beautiful settings. I don’t think as an industry in the UK we do outside dining that well. Nothing is nicer than being with friends and family, eating the best food in a beautiful setting, and it not costing the earth. When we built Pergola on the Roof and were creating the concept, the way it looked and felt to the customer was the only thing I really thought about. If you get that right, everything else follows.

At what point did your idea change from concept in to reality?

With Feast in 2013, I had a conversation with my Director at my previous company, and we just said ¨let’s do it¨. We then navigated our way through the industry and the rest was history. When I left the company to start my own business in 2015 I took Feast with me.

With Pergola on the Roof, it started in January 2016 – I knew of the site at Television Centre and had known Ian Lindsley from Jefferson Communications, who is the Comms Agency on Television Centre. He put me in touch with Alistair Shaw who is the MD and we had a meeting at Little Feast in Shepherds Bush. I told him the idea, submitted a bid and then we heard in early Feb we had secured the site. I then had to turn Pergola into a reality, which was the hardest part. By April I think I was sleeping around 3 hours a night! Scariest thing I had done, especially due to the scale. A 550 cover restaurant on the roof of a car park in White City seems slightly mad, but when we have the best team who all pushed in the right direction and now here we are, 72,000 visitors through the door to date.

There has been a boom in street food venues recently, why do you think people find them so appealing?

I think its down to choice, the quality is next level and they are so available. 10 years ago it was hard to get amazing food unless you were in restaurants, now its everywhere. You can walk out of work and get a £7 buttermilk chicken burger that would be better than most restaurants.

What do you feel is the key difference between you and your competitors?

Hmmmm. Good question. For us it’s all about the product, the experience and then what the visitor thinks. As long as you nail that then everything comes with – although I’m not sure everyone adopts that thinking.

What were the biggest challenges you faced setting up Pergola?

The biggest challenge with Pergola was how will we bring 5000 people a week here.I didn’t want to sell tickets as I don’t like that model, I don’t think people should have to pay to go and eat.  We needed a combination of a strong food line up and the right concept, then you just need to back yourself and just go for it. Social media plays such a big part of it. We wanted to take bookings from day one so we now secure visitors and don’t just rely on walk ins on the day. We book out 70% and then leave 30% to walk ins. I think in our first month we had 11,000 people booked in, then by June 1st we were on 22,000. Now as I write this we are fully booked every day until we close, bar Sunday lunches. That is so important for us. Our drop out rate of bookings is around 4% so incredibly low, which means you are doing something right. As long as the place looks great, the experience is good and they enjoy themselves then word of mouth kicks in.

Do you see Feast/Pergola diversifying in the future?

I hope so, but for the moment what we are doing is right for us. We’re a seasonal business based around summer and winter, we don’t want to go into full time restaurants as its not what we do. We’ll leave that to the professionals!

http://www.pergolaontheroof.co.uk

Kricket

Co-founders Rik Campbell and Will Bowlby

interviewed by Alex Mann

Frame

Co-founder Joan Murphy

interviewed by Alex Mann

Potage

Founder and CEO, Georgia Cummings

interviewed by Alex Mann

BLOK

Founder and CEO, Ed Stanbury

interviewed by Alex Mann

BLOK is a fitness space in Clapton E5, located in a refurbished victorian tram depot. Founded by Ed Stanbury & Max Oppneheim, the BLOK philosophy is that training is about more than just breaking a sweat. Ed, What is your background and how were you led to opening BLOK? I…

Noble Rot

Co-founders Mark Andrew and Dan Keeling

interviewed by Alex Mann

Wine brought together Mark, head buyer at independent wine merchant Roberson, and Dan, who was once the MD of Island Records. After launching their wine magazine (Noble Rot) they’ve finally fulfilled their dream of opening a wine bar and restaurant. When did Noble Rot, turn from an idea into a…

Skinny Dip

Co-founder, James Gold

interviewed by Tracey Pollard

James Gold, Richard Gold and Lewis Blitz co-founded Skinnydip after seeing a major gap in the fashion accessory market. You have achieved so much for such a young team, is your age an advantage or a drawback? I think the biggest advantage of our age is our lack of fear.…

L’Olfattoria Bar a Perfums, Florence

A unique fragrance bar
by Charlotte Roberts

At L’Olfattoria, Bar a Perfums the sole objective is to help visitors discover a scent that captures their true essence. This unique concept, a fragrance bar, is the creation of Renata Da Rossi, who with her husband Giovanni Gaidano, is the founder of Cithera Sas, a Turin-based importer and distributor of perfume.

Although situated on Via Tornabuoni, one of the busiest streets in Florence, the entrance is discreet with a narrow corridor leading into a beautifully ornately decorated boutique. We felt like we had discovered a hidden gem! There were probably eight perfume brands that had been selected by their experts to retail. They sold a total product range from each of the brands including perfume, candles and room fragrance. This small selection of brands focussed our attention as consumers and meant we were not overwhelmed.

One of the most important factors was the level of service and knowledge of staff – most have worked with the store over 10 years and have an unrivalled knowledge of products, the different fragrances and tailor to peoples tastes. This level of personal service was outstanding, we left as satisfied customers!

Angels and Gypsies, Camberwell

Modern tapas restaurant signifying Camberwell's gentrification

by Harry Badham

Ask a lot of people what they think of Camberwell and the only answer usually involves Danny’s famous Camberwell carrot (because it was invented in Camberwell and it looks like a carrot……duh). But change is definitely afoot, at least to the non-Withnail generation. Perhaps it started with the brave opening…

Devi Garh, India

Heritage hotel and resort in Udaipur

by Ivor Peters

After an hour of sucking in our breath, dodging overladen lorries carrying marble on the national highway to Delhi, we arrived at the kilometre long driveway leading to our hotel, with its stark silver on black signage. The imposing sight of Devi Garh, the 17th Century fort cum palace occupies…

Black Barn Winery, New Zealand

A boutique vineyard and destination in its own right

by Joanne Wilkes

I first stumbled across Black Barn Winery in New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay in 2011. It was a chance encounter but it was one of those perfect moments. Most wineries in Hawkes Bay keep it simple with a cellar door where you sample some of the best wines that New Zealand…

The Apartment by The Line, New York

An unassuming entrance in Soho leads to a trove of unique products.
by Nigel Gillingham

The Apartment is the joint innovation of Creative Director Morgan Wendelborn and stylist du jour Vanessa Traina. The group brings together a collection of extremely well-compiled lifestyle products presented in the setting of an unassuming Apartment. The entrance is via a self-effacing entrance that sits amongst high profile and luxury fashion brands within the heart of New York’s Soho.

An elevator located directly at street level delivers you to a third floor world of eye–catching pieces, during fairly selective trading hours, or by appointment only; this is secondary space in the extreme. It is a fairly ‘typical’ 1600 sq. ft. Soho Loft space, designed to represent a living space that anyone would aspire to reside in.

It’s targeted at the well travelled, the understated, and those who like nothing more than to indulge in the constant search for the most interesting curation of lifestyle ‘objects’ and homewares. An original concept with a definite individuality, with a coordinated e-commerce platform (beginning life as an online retailer), and enough appeal to sit within the ever-changing retail landscape today.

Space Ninety8, Brooklyn

Amongst the modish cafes, bars and industrial space of Williamsburg, New York, lives Space Ninety 8

by Rupert Bentley-Smith

Hay Design, Bath

Bath flagship for this iconic Danish homeware brand

by Nigel Gillingham

Vintage Village, Paris

A concept store based around genuine vintage and antique pieces from Habitat

by Ed Corrigan

Palomar, London

A modern Jerusalem menu and creative, crazy environment

by Nigel Gillingham

Chefs from Jerusalem’s coolest restaurant Machneyrda have not disappointed with The Palomar at 34 Rupert Street, London. Following its opening in May 2014, this restaurant seems to have received nothing but positive praise. The modern Jerusalem menu and the creative, crazy environment is inspiring and the non stop showmanship, theatre…

Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon

A modern take on a food court

by Tracey Pollard

There has been a market in this building since 1882 and it was once the most famous fish market in Europe but in May 2014, part of the market hall reopened as the “Time Out” Food Hall,  housing 35 of Lisbon’s top chefs and restaurants. Set within a beautiful building…

Rapha worldwide retreats

An international cycling retreat

by Rupert Bentley-Smith

UK Cycling is now reportedly worth a massive £2.9bn, and is a huge factor in the lifestyles of many. Bruce Gillingham Pollard has experienced first hand the growth of cycling, witnessing the emergence of a number of concept stores, and in addition, new more targeted bike shops such as Look…

Riad el Fenn, Marrakech

Five Riads converted into one
by Ed Corrigan

There has traditionally been a choice for travellers staying in Marrakech: the traditional but perhaps ‘compact’ accommodation offered by the riads within the Medina, or one of the luxurious sprawling hotel complexes just outside the city walls. Riad el Fenn attempts to bring the best of both, offering traditional charm with modern indulgence – it is in fact five riads converted into one. As such it has a variety of boutique rooms, 3 swimming pools, two bars – even a roof-top putting green in the shadow of the Koutoubia mosque tower!

The décor is a genuine mix of modern luxury and traditional Moroccan craft and each area of the hotel is treated sensitively and offers a different vibe. It retains plenty of nooks and hideaways for reading, snacking, sunbathing, or snoozing. Just as much attention (not to mention investment!) has been paid to the pieces of art which are dotted at every turn and include works by Bridget Riley, Terence Donovan and Antony Gormley.

The fashion conscious amongst you will be impressed by the matching Ralph Lauren polo shirts and Birkenstock sandals worn by the ever attentive staff! Riad el Fenn has an excellent location close to the main square (Djemaa el Fna) but also to the city walls, making it quick and easy to find when you arrive in this disorientating city, and also easy to navigate your way out for a day trip.

Uniqlo, Le Marais, Paris

Old meets new in Uniqlo's new flagship store

by Woody Bruce

The Marais is almost as old as some of the first inhabited parts of Paris and still maintains some of that old world charm, it is the only area in Paris that has preserved the narrow streets and architectural styles of the Medieval and Renaissance-era. In stark contrast to the old…

My Cup of Tea, Rome

A former cave, turned secret studio packed full with design wonders

by Rupert Bentley-Smith

This Roman cave, located in Via Gregoriana, is a secret studio packed full with design wonders. My Cup Of Tea was originally an events trend spotting company, which more latterly opened a retail arm, portrayed as less of a shop, and more of a “creative space”; operating a carousel of…

Cagliari, Sardinia

Traditional, yet captivating retail experience in Sardinia

by Rupert Bentley-Smith

Viewed and spoken about as a ‘laboratory’, Loredana Mandas’ shop in Cagliari is somewhere for people to watch and experience the fascinating process of her creating hand-made jewellery typical of Sardinia’s history and the island’s deep craft traditions. One of the few filigree jewellery artisans in southern Sardinia, the shop…