Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Lou Lou Chats with 'Jemima Vine' designer, Jennifer Markham

One of my most worn style of shoes this Autumn/Winter has been the smoking slipper look. Therefore, I was very excited when I came across new footwear brand, 'Jemima Vine', who have some fantastic smoking slippers in their collection. I like to wear heels, but very often find that style doesn't always equate to comfort when it comes to shoes. Therefore I end up wearing flats for my daily commute and back and fore to meetings, and heels in the office. But with 'Jemima Vine' it appears that I just might have found the Holy Grail when it comes to shoes: stylish shoes that are still comfortable.Yes, they do exist! Jennifer, the designer behind the new label kindly agreed to answer a few questions for my blog.

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Describe ‘Jemima Vine’ in three words.

Beautiful AND wearable.

'Matilda' court shoe in python, available at www.jemimavine.co.uk from Friday, £149


She is a woman who is incredibly stylish in a very British way; spirited with little quirks and details.  I had an image of her in my head and I just thought that the name really captured her.  

Please tell us more about yourself.

I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia and moved to London in my early 20s.  I worked in the City in sales and investment roles for about seven years, but I always hoped I would be able to tie my interests in fashion and business together and run my own company.  As I was often running to meetings and through airports in stilettos, I recognised that I needed a more comfortable alternative that wouldn’t sacrifice on style.  I also realised that I was increasingly buying clothing that I could style to wear for both work and weekends.  This gave me the idea to develop a range of chic but highly versatile footwear, from flats to mid heels, bridging the gap between ballet flats and stilettos. 


Does ‘Jemima Vine’ have a signature style?

Polished and sophisticated, individualised with detailing and high quality materials that nod to current trends.

Would you say ‘Jemima Vine’ is more classic, or trend-led?

There is definitely a trend led element in our styles, both in structure and in materials and detailing.  At the same time, we would love our shoes to become wardrobe staples that are worn for seasons to come.  We are very focused on crafting each shoe to a very high quality, so we aim for them to have a real trans-seasonal element as well.

There are lots of lovely shoes in the collection, but have you got a particular favourite?

For Spring Summer 2013, I think that our Edie Dalmatian print slipper with neon pink trim is the quintessential flat.  Monochrome is becoming a huge trend this year and adding splashes of neon pink makes these shoes so fun, but in a sophisticated way. Some customers have reported back to us that this style is the most comfortable flat they own so it is very wearable as well.

'Edie' slipper with neon pink trim, available at www.jemimavine.co.uk from Friday, £159


What has been the highlight for you since starting up ‘Jemima Vine’?

I love hearing from customers that they wear our shoes all the time and some have even come back for a second colour in the same style.

Looking back, is there anything that you would have done differently?

It is very early days and there are so many different decisions you can make relating to all aspects of a new business.  You have to make the best decision you can at the time and feel decisive about it (which I think is better than procrastinating) and then adapt as best as you can when things then take a slightly different path to what you expected (which they will!).

What motivates you?

Creating products that I really love and that others will feel the same about.  Having a passion for the task at hand and an opportunity to be creative in my work.  Meeting lovely and interesting people along the way.

What’s in the pipeline for ‘Jemima Vine’ in 2013?

Our Spring Summer 2013 capsule range grows at the end of this month with the launch of the Edie slipper in Dalmatian print and neon trim and the Matilda, a chic court in this year’s hottest heel height – the midi (in python leather and Dalmatian calf hair).  We will build up to a full collection for Autumn Winter 2013.

What advice would you give to people who are looking to start their own fashion business?

I do have a business background but did an excellent short course at London College of Fashion with Toby Meadows, writer of “How to Set Up and Run a Fashion Label”, an excellent read.  This focused me on the questions I needed to ask myself before I wrote my business plan and got my head around issues in business that are specific to the fashion industry. 

Cash flow is the crucial issue for any business, and is even trickier to manage in the fashion industry because you have a lot of upfront costs to create a collection each season and will only start getting your money back when your product is in store or online in at least a few months time.  Understand a) costs you will have to pay for as you develop, manufacture and promote your product, b) when cash will start flowing back to you from sales and c) how you will manage that nasty gap in between the two!

Where can we find ‘Jemima Vine’?

On our website at www.jemimavine.co.uk.  We also host shoe parties where we bring our range into offices and homes, so we would love to hear from anyone who would be interested in organising one.

Top Tip?

I just finished reading Clare Balding’s delightful autobiography “My Animals and Other Family” and she said something about having to have confidence within yourself in order for others to have confidence about you - very true, it just doesn’t happen the other way round!

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