Our pop-up store: the story
by Elisa, Chief Wandered and Wandering Minds Founder
The blog has been a bit abandoned lately (and that’s quite the understatement), but I have a pretty damn good excuse. We opened our first ever pop-up store a little less than a month ago, and running an e-store AND a brick-and-mortar store at the same time is not easy.
Let me tell you how it all happened. A few months ago I attended a networking event for entrepreneurs at my old university (Oxford). This was my first networking event, and let’s be honest I’m pretty sh*t at it. And yet, on that day I met one of the founders of We Are Pop-Up, a start-up specialising in linking small businesses with pop-up spaces. He encouraged me to take part in a competition that they organised with Boxpark, the pop-up mall based in the heart of hip Shoreditch in East London.
So a couple of days later, co-founder James and I were pitching to Boxpark management, and well, we ended up winning 6 weeks free rent at Boxpark.
We opened our store on 11th April, after a couple of sleepless nights spent bringing all the stock and merchandising the space nicely. We had a party that night, where friends, online fans and strangers mingled and had a jolly good time.
How has it been going so far? Surprisingly and remarkably well. We’ve been able to get direct feedback on our products and get a grasp of the wide variety of customers Wandering Minds can cater to: from 20-something hipsters to the coolest German grandmother who must have been in her late 70s. It has been so cool to see how so many different people could fall in love with our products.
Come visit, we’re there until May 22nd.
Why we love Korean labels: Margarin Fingers
By Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer
You may have noticed that our little online store is full of Korean brands, from small indie-labels and one-man/woman operation to up-and-coming brands already very popular with the cool crowds of Seoul and Tokyo.
Our latest collaboration with a Korean label, Margarin Fingers
Why do we love Korean labels so much at Wandering Minds? It certainly isn’t the easy option. Dealing with Korean brands often involves a lot of communication problems, which can often be solved only by actually going there (which is great fun and we do often, but still not the most convenient thing when your office is in London). And there’s also the problem of sizing, with most brands only catering for a standard UK size 8, XS/S frame, which is not exactly inclusive nor representative of the reality of what girls look like in the West.
But our enthusiasm for Korean fashion brands remains undeterred by these difficulties, and here’s why: when we go to Korea to check out clothes and find new designers, we always, always get excited by what we see; I can’t say the same of European trade shows, which, let’s be honest, are quite a bore (and I’m off to Pure London trade show tomorrow, oh joy!)
Korean designers always seem to create things you didn’t even know you wanted. Effortless silhouettes with the coolest little details. Take our most recent designer collaboration, Margarin Fingers. When I saw their collection of simple separates embroidered with, wait for it, icebergs, I started laughing. But immediately afterwards I felt that I had always wanted to own a light grey sweater with icebergs on it, as well as, amongst other things, an asymmetric manga-school-girl pleated skorts. I just didn’t know I did.
How Wandering Minds is doing: Founder’s interview
By Elisa Eymery, Chief Wanderer at Wandering Minds
Our friend of many years, Lucie Goulet, writes the brilliant blog Fashion Abecedaire, which features her thoughts and opinions on the fashion industry, articles about her favourite films and TV series, and the odd bitching session about something that annoyed her. She interviewed me as part of her blogger’s adventure feature. I’ve copied her blog post, because, well, I’m saying really interesting things in it, so you’d better read it.
I met Elisa Eymery on my fifth day of living in the UK. I was looking for the infirmary at the French lycée and she happened to know where it was. She was wearing a Nile blue top with jeans and a tonal scarf instead of a belt, which I thought very cool. Nine years on, we’ve been to the same university, lived in the same student halls, hosted a radio show and been on holidays to Cairo together.
Last year, Elisa, freshly returned from a six-months trip to Asia, launched a project she’d been talking about since her student days:Wandering Minds, an online young fashion store stocking emerging, unknown brands sourced during her travels*.
The store has a buddy blog, No Experience, which features the behind-the-scenes of a fashion start-up as well as Elisa’s buying trips. I asked her about the importance of blogging to support an emerging fashion business, on the role of content marketing in generating sales and on her successful partnerships with bloggers.
Why did you decide to title the blog No Experience?
We wanted the name of the blog to reflect another aspect of our identify as a fashion start-up. Our store name, Wandering Minds, reflects the fact that we’re all about travelling and exploring the world to find cool, eclectic pieces.
No Experience emphasises the ‘young start-up’ aspect of our business, which we are quite proud of, although it also comes with challenges. We have no (or at least very little) experience in the fashion industry, or any industry for that matter, as the average age of our team is 25, but that’s not a bad thing. It pushes us to think logically and creatively, and to rely heavily on our instincts as young fashion consumers.
Why was it important for you to have a blog alongside your online store?
In business terms, it is unthinkable for online fashion stores not to have a blog. It allows us to express our personality as a retailer and it inspires trust amongst our potential customers. Trust remains a major issue for unknown brands/stores online, so having a well-developed, up-to-date blog definitely helps establishing confidence.
The blog is split into five sections, Behind-the-scenes being my personal favourite. How do you decide what to post and how do you make sure it stays true to the Wandering Minds ethos?
Behind-the-scenes is also my favourite section, but it is the most difficult to write. We always wanted to talk about the behind-the-scenes of running a fashion start-up, because it is fascinating and not many people write about it. But we’re also trying to portray ourselves as an established company, as we don’t want people to think we don’t know what we’re doing. Everything we do, from photoshoots to our fulfillment process, is on a very low budget. It’s the only way for us to survive as a company, and most people don’t even seem to notice; we get emails from people who seem to think we are a multinational sometimes!
So we’re in a bit of a dilemma at the moment regarding the tone of the blog: do we take a risk and emphasise the ‘home-made’ aspect of Wandering Minds, or do we try and emphasise other aspects unrelated to the start-up life, such as our fashion viewpoint, our sources of inspiration…
You sell an extended selection of products in the store but only feature a few on the blog - how do you choose them?
I used to always add links to our products in our blog posts, but I don’t feel obliged to any more. I try to write about things I really want to write about, so that the tone of the blog doesn’t feel forced or overly commercial. There are other places to do hard selling, and I don’t feel our blog is the right place for that.
That being said, if I write about my style inspiration, whether it’s a style icon or a really cool movie, I sometimes include links and photos of our products that would really work if our reader would want to emulate that style, and for that reason the products that I feature are often my favourite ones.
Have you noticed a link between the products you feature and how well something sells?
No I haven’t. However, I find that people who have first read the blog, and then visited the store, are a lot more committed to browsing the store, as well as finding more about our company and our concept. Our blog visitors spend quite a bit of time on the ‘about us’ page on our store. The blog definitely has been a great way to create a positive bias towards who we are as a company.
Why did you decide to blog on Tumblr?
We really weren’t sure which platform to use at first, but Tumblr seemed the easiest one to customise nicely, as well as having a social element with the dashboard and people being able to follow you very easily.
However we’re increasingly thinking about switching or also having a Wordpress blog, because it also seems like a great platform for people to stumble upon content they might like.
Quite a few bloggers have worn your clothes recently. What role are bloggers playing in the expansion of a recently launched startup like yours?
Bloggers have a huge direct impact on our sales performance. Whatever a blogger wears, their fans will buy! They can become quite angry when a particular item of clothing worn by their favourite blogger sells out, which is quite funny. Blogger collaborations are crucial to the survival of our business, and is also one of the cheapest and most effective way to promote our store.
For prospective customers who hadn’t heard about us through bloggers, it gives us additional credibility since a lot of people visit our press page, where we record the blog posts where we are featured.
How do you see No Experience evolve in 2013?
We need to find the right balance between sharing our start-up experience with our followers and keeping enough distance to be taken seriously.
We also need to write a lot more often, and I’d like to link our newly created Instagram account to our blog, to give a new dimension to the Wandering Minds behind-the-scenes narration.
Another big step for the blog will be the launch of our ‘shop by city’ feature on the store, where shoppers will be able to shop designers from a wide range of cool fashion cities. This new dimension will be accompanied by the creation of city-specific content by local bloggers, which should make for some very interesting and unique points of view to be shared on the blog.
* Full disclosure: I have been involved with the Wandering Minds adventure, in a moral support and at times advisory capacity.
Sunday night inspiration - Happy fashion
by Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer
As an entrepreneur, sunday doesn’t mean rest day. I still check our facebook page activity every 5 minutes, our analytics every 2 minutes, and my email every 30 seconds. However on Sundays, I let myself be drawn towards the things that naturally interest me. I investigate. I loose myself in random searches and find things that inspire me.
Fashion and style inspiration obviously has a big part in my sundays. But again, I try not to think about it in business terms, but purely on a aesthetics, natural affinity basis. Today, I found myself attracted to ‘happy fashion’. Outfits that look comfortable, but have an obvious joyful dimension to them. Whether it’s a print, a colour, a texture, or a combination of the previous, I look at things that scream ‘I’m really quite happy to be alive and clothes are part of the fun’.
Insider’s wanderings: Tonya, Resident Muse
By Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer
Looking at our track record at hiring models, we seem to have a thing for super intelligent, educated models at Wandering Minds. Who can blame us? Tonya is no exception. This Russian beauty went to the French Lycee in London, where she met the Wandering Minds crew, which was back then not much more than a collection of random spotty teenagers.
Tonya wears our little grey jumper, in Barbican (East London).
Fast forward, a few years later, after a degree in Biology at the University of Edinburgh, Tonya came back to London for her Masters, and it just so happened that she looked like a sex goddess. Hence our decision to have her star in our first fashion film, alongside Olivia (read her interview) and myself. The slight problem with Tonya is that she’s so sexy that she takes attention away from the clothes. Oh well. We still thought that it would be interesting to ask her a few questions and try and understand how to be hot like her.
Tonya wears our navy pleated sweater when shooting our fashion film
Insider’s wanderings: Olivia, Resident Supermodel
by Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer.
This post is the first one in our Insider’s wanderings series, where I will interview the fascinating people that make Wandering Minds the exciting, and admittedly, slightly weird - no, ‘quirky’, let’s stick to ‘quirky’ - place that it is.
We start the series with Olivia, Wandering Minds’ resident supermodel, because pretty people are always very interesting.
Olivia went to the French Lycee in London, where half of the Wandering Minds team went. She was scouted and started modelling while at school, scoring campaigns for Topshop and MIH jeans, amongst others. She studied Interior Architecture at the University of Westminster, and having attended her graduation show, I can testify that the girl is pretty good - in fact, great - at what she does.
She’s now with Elite London, and we basically can’t afford her, but because she’s very, very nice and a great friend, Olivia did a couple of photoshoots for us, as well as co-starring in our legendary short film, despite having lost her voice at the Jay-Z concert she attended the night before.
Olivia wearing our striped t-shirt dress
Olivia wearing our strapless cosmic impressionist dress
I asked Olivia a series of very deep questions:
What’s your favourite trend of the season? Not sure, I don’t really follow trends
What’s the one thing you can’t live without? Hmm my iphone! Super lame, but it makes my life easier/happier.
Who’s your celebrity crush? Mark Wright.
What’s your favourite song/band? Hard to answer! Right now I am listening to KC& and the sunshine band.
What’s your best fashion memory? When super high and tight pony tails were in fashion, that was fun!!
What’s your best modelling memory? Booking my first job was super exciting.
What’s your signature style, the look that defines you? Tight jeans, baggy jumpers.
What’s your most memorable trip? Going back to my homeland in Poland is always pretty special and especially last time as I went to Auschwitz.
Give us a style tip: Have a look at the men’s department.
What’s your favourite city? Amsterdam is pretty cool, amazing architecture and dutch boys are super cute.
Finally, what’s your favourite Wandering Minds product? Ah I have 2! the leather skirt because its super sexy but the buttons make it look casual, and the jeans shirt (see below) because every wardrobe needs a jean shirt and this one has the perfect cut and colour!
I’m a Swedish superstar
By Elisa Eymery, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer
One of my favourite fashion bloggers of all times, Ebba Zigmark, recently interviewed me about my experience as a young fashion entrepreneur for her column on inspiring personalities on Sweden’s biggest online fashion magazine, modette.se. Obviously, I was thrilled - especially given my huge girl crush on Ms Zingmark. And I’m on the homepage (for now). How cool. I’ve sent the link to all members of my family who know how to read, but they complained that it was in Swedish. Big deal. That’s what’s cool about it. Duh. Anyway, I’m sharing a translation of the article with you guys.
Here’s the link to the original article, and below, the translation.
Name: Elisa Eymery - Age: 25 - Country/city: Originally from France, but now a Londoner at heart.
Hi Elisa! Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m a 25 year-old French girl who moved to London 10 years ago. After graduating from Oxford University, where I studied Management, I started working in fashion and then management consulting. I learnt a lot, but soon became a little bit bored. I didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t given any responsibility because of my young age. I had been thinking of starting my own business for many years, and finally decided to do it properly in January 2012, after having experimented with a shop on EBay for a year.
What is Wandering Minds? What is your concept?
Wandering Minds is about going to the coolest cities around the world, discovering little stores and meeting young designers. We then bring back all the best clothes back to our online store. For us, fashion is not just about going to your local H&M or Zara and finding something nice. It’s about all the young undiscovered designers who create things in the most inspiring cities around the world - Berlin, Tokyo, London, Seoul, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Stockholm!
What inspired you to start Wandering Minds?
I was inspired to start Wandering Minds after a six-month trip around Asia after I finished university: I went to China, Japan and South Korea, where I lived for four months. I worked as an actress to make some money while traveling. What struck me during my trip was how amazing and dynamic the fashion was in these countries. There are tiny fashion stalls everywhere and through my job I met really talented young designers who have started their own labels. And I thought that the clothes looked a lot cooler (and were much cheaper!) than anything you could find in Europe.
What’s the best and the worst thing about running your own shop?
The best thing is that you get to decide everything: no-one tells you what to do, and you have the freedom to make your own decisions and mistakes.
The worst thing is the constant stress. Even when I go on a short holiday, I always think about how my store is doing, how am I going to get more money, how am I going to get more people to know about it, and how am I going to find more designers.
What is fashion to you? How much does it impact your ordinary life?
Fashion for me is about expressing oneself and having fun. I like and appreciate all sorts of style, as long as people are committed to their personal style. Fashion inspires me visually everyday - people in the streets, fashion bloggers, random photos you find on the internet: fashion makes life a lot more interesting!
What is the strongest trend’s this autumn, according to you?
Statement sweaters. I love the loose, boyish shape of sweaters, and this season sweaters are everywhere. But it has to have something special: a great colour, zippers, pleats, a crazy print!
Tradeshow season part 1: Berlin
By Elisa, Founder and Chief Wanderer
The Wandering Minds team - co-founder James, web analytics stud Denny and I (Elisa), just came back from a few fun days in one of our favourite up-and-coming style capitals - Berlin. The Berlin Bread & Butter tradeshow is always tremendous fun, as it never is just about the clothes and the brands, but about the parties, the atmosphere, the decor and the city as a whole.
Bread and Butter is held in an airport no longer in use, and the cool 1930s architecture is in itself a great source of inspiration. It has the most spectacular design features that make you feel like you’re in one of these cool airports from a 1960s James Bond movie.
For Spring-Summer 13, I believe the theme of the show had something to do with planet earth, but what stood out for me was the colour blue and tie-dying. A massive blue, tie-dyed piece of fabric was hanging from the ceiling, and everybody was queuing for a tie-dye workshop where you could tie-dye t-shirts. Having been to a tie-dye themed house party in Dalston just a few weeks ago, this tie-dye fervor came as no surprise (I realise I’ve said the word tie-dye an awful lot).
We found two great brands that we hopefully will start to work with next season, one from Denmark and one from the Netherlands, both championing paired-down aesthetics with a hint of sexiness. I’ll keep you guys updated on when/what we order from them, but I can just say that it will include the coolest parkas and the greatest leather skirt you’ve ever seen. We also found a nice bag brand (modeled by yours truly in one of the photos below), which was way too expensive, but we’ll keep them in mind.
Designer focus: Grace Raiment
Today is going to be epic for Wandering Minds, as 1) we are receiving the first part of the collection of a great designer that we discovered on our latest trip to Seoul in February and 2) finding space for the new stock in the start-up flat will be more than a little challenging.
I met Sojung Kim, the designer and founder of Korean brand Grace Raiment in her tiny and magical office in one of the up-and-coming creative areas of Seoul. Lost in a sea of moodboards, fabric swatches, samples, drawings, hangers, and Korean chitchat, I instantly fell in love with her style and her collection. Sojung graduated in fashion design at the renowed Seoul Ehwa Women’s University, famous in the whole of Asia for training some amazingly talented young designers. Sojung can’t be much older than 27, and yet she has developed a strong individual aesthetics, along with outstanding tailoring skills, which you can see consistently across her SS12 collection.
The brand is about youthful and effortless feminity, with touches of androgyny, creating relaxed and minimal silhouettes. They’re clothes for girls who can pull off simple looks. What also stands out for me is the soft tailoring, incredible fabrics and detailing that makes all the difference.
This season, Sojung Kim created timeless and subtly flirtatious pieces, with unique detailing, in faux innocent white and accents of tomato red. Think posh girl goes to Wimbledon and seduces everyone around her without even trying. We’ll be stocking little summer dresses - one with a cool bow at the back and one with wide pleats - in a beautiful white cotton fabric with thin red stripes; effortless white blouses with unique and subtle detailing - a high neckline, or a thin striped textured fabric in a loose shape; simple but striking breton stripe tops in red or blue and white; an oversized but slightly short sweater top with horizontal pleats, in tomato red or preppy navy. And the list goes on!
Boys and girls, we’re no longer in the high-street, find-anywhere domain, this is designer stuff (at a great mid-range price point), the type of clothes that you will keep for years and that will become part of you.
Grace Raiment office in trendy Seoul
Loose-fit pleated sweater top in tomato red
Wimbledon pleated striped dress
Relaxed white stripe textured blouse
Relaxed white stripe textured blouse
Red and white breton stripe top
Forget-me-not white textured dress
Buyer Power: Quirky Knits for Spring
So it has become cold again in London, damn it! But I simply can’t go back to my black/grey boringly non-printed winter clothes. I-Just-Can’t. Just as well that I fell in love with a range of vibrant, cloud embroidered knitted jumpers in my last buying trip in Seoul. It was -20°C back then, and I frankly don’t know how I survived - perhaps by spending my days AND nights (not an exaggeration, the best fashion stores in Seoul close at 6am, and re-open at 10am) *working* (shopping) in overheated shopping malls, department stores, concept stores and designers’ studios.
I fell in love with these cloud jumpers because, first of all, they had clouds on them; now I haven’t seen much cloud prints in Europe in the last months/decades, which is surprising because clouds are lovely things, conceptually, with their whimsical shape, and make for a delightfully unexpected print. Secondly, these jumpers looked so cool but also so comfortable: the light but still warm knitted fabric, the slightly oversized shape and high round neck, they were all just right. Finally, they came in three different colour combinations, and because I couldn’t choose which one I preferred, I bought the three of them for our store; I felt that each colour would better match certain personalities and moods, and who am I to interfere with that; the bright pink with green clouds would satisfy the slightly cooky girls with a love for neon; the light blue, infused with a touch of grey, with ivory clouds would suit thoughtful, introspective moods; while the white jumper with navy clouds, almost nautical in feel (if a cloud could ever be nautical), would be perfect for girls who recognize the importance of rules, yet know the necessity of transgressing them.
Get the jumpers in our store now!
Broke Entrepreneur Syndromes series: Weekend Anxiety
In my recent and short experience as an entrepreneur, I’ve seen myself developing new and strange attitudes towards things that I used to take for granted. The first broke entrepreneur syndrome that I noticed developing was the weekend anxiety syndrome.
The weekend is quite an unsettling time for the young, broke and unexperienced entrepreneur. Indeed, during the week, the entrepreneur is quite chuffed with her/himself when she sees her friends waking up at 7am, sweating in the tube and spending all their day light time in a yellow-lit office full of annoying people and bosses who know sh*t; while in the meantime, she’s dealing with urgent business matters on a sunny terrasse somewhere in a North London start-up flat rooftop and decides to go to yoga class in the middle of the afternoon.
However, when Friday night comes, the young entrepreneur’s heart starts filling with dread, at the sight of all the happy office people drinking pints after pints outside pubs. Same thing on Saturdays and Sundays, when other people engage - completely free of guilt - in delightfully unproductive activities. What happens is that the poor young entrepreneur feels like she doesn’t deserve to have fun like the other normal people, because her not-yet-successful business is always at the back of her mind, still being not-yet successful.
Also, weekends are, for the employed majority, a time where they can spend the money that they’ve worked hard (sometimes) for. But the young, broke entrepreneur doesn’t have any money, and so feels extremely guilty whenever spending anything on the weekend. So the entrepreneur tries to bring the entertainment back to her home as much as possible to limit costs, and lure her friends to the start-up flat with promises of home-made apple tarts.
In an attempt to fight the weekend anxiety syndrome, I decided on Saturday morning to engage in a “relaxing” but cheap weekend activity: the bubble bath; however I made sure that the boyfriend/business partner was covering the ‘commenting on blogs to bring traffic to our own website’ part of our business model; obviously all the posts from the main fashion blogs were published while I was in the bath, and so the boyfriend had to shout very obscure descriptions of the outfits that had been posted so that I could create a suitable comment without having seen the picture. Needless to say, our comments on Saturday morning were a little weird, as the bathroom extraction fan made communication between me and the boyfriend quite difficult. The boyfriend ended up writing strange things like “I love the hardness of the jacket” or “This is lovely purple”. Oh dear.
The photos below show a normal day at the office for the entrepreneur, full of challenges requiring different, adapted approaches:
Anonymous asked: Hi, I love the concept of your enterprise, and was wondering if you could use my skills and geographical location. I am a kiwi, living in Tajikistan. I am a mum to my one year old daughter, love fashion, fabrics and the sport of shopping in every conceivable form. I have lived and worked in Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan, Iraq and the US and NZ, and have a love for objects that add to my own life as well as for seeing the things that fit into some other persons. Globally raoming wardrobe designer!
Wow, what a fascinating background! If you think you could help in any way, let us know! We’re always looking for feedback, tips or help of any kind, so feel free to talk to us! x
So much stuff to do
The Wandering Minds team is going slightly mental at the moment, as we’re planning to launch the web store in two weeks and there is so much stuff to be done still - not that this will ever change.
In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a big editorial photoshoot and a big product photography photoshoot, and we’re pretty happy with the result. We’ve been lucky to be able to find quirky yet beautiful looking models (if you know anyone who fits this description, we ALWAYS need models).
The team’s now working like crazy on finishing up the website, retouching product photos, doing product copywriting, while managing our next orders for the high summer season (which you should be very excited about, as we have some truly delightlful pieces coming in the next few weeks, will write another post about this).
Most importantly though, we need to start working on organising a huge party for the launch of the website. Everybody’s invited.
Roxane and Elisa at the photoshoot
Amanda (our model) and Erica (our make-up artist)
Joy - our other model and friend
photoshoot in Queen’s Park
The team shooting in Queen’s Park