I’ve been in retail a long time. Nearly 15 years! What started off as a tiny little store, staffed purely by moi has now morphed into to quite a big business. In the olden days I would buy products from trade shows twice a year, display the products nicely and that was pretty much it. Fast forward a number of years and now it's all about designing our own products, researching, travelling, demand planning, merchandising, dealing with logistics, training, social media-ing, exhibiting, talking at events, teaching, marketing, writing, holding KPI meetings, interior designing, wholesaling – exhausted yet! There is always something to do, but here is what I’ve learnt.
There is so much I just don’t get round to do but I can’t beat myself up about it - I have to prioritise. I have to schedule, time box and work out what needs to be done in order to be effective.
DON'T DWELL ON THE PAST
I am quite good about not dwelling on things that have failed. We all make poor inventory investments, have slow months, turn things down when we should have said yes or say yes to opportunities when we should say no. That’s life!
In the old days I didn’t lean on data I just listened to my head but now we have gotten bigger it's too much to manage so every decision is based on a report and data. The more you know through data the better you become.
I love cooking, I don’t really like cooking with other people (truth be told) I’m much better with some jazz on and in the old days a glass of wine (these days a non –alcoholic spirit based drink from Seedlip.
I digress I like pottering, cooking and hanging out in my kitchen, now I’ve finally gotten it just right!
I actually haven’t done that much to it to transform it. Little touches like suspending a little chandelier over the island, plonking a table lamp on the counter, adding some open storage (big game changer), faux ferns - it makes the whole space way more interesting.
I have stashes of recipe books on the counter, little vessels housing pears, apples, salt, pepper. I plopped an old threadbare rug on the floor and added botanicals everywhere. Nailed!
DECORATING ON A BUDGET - I hate that phase namely because I feel it implies always forgoing style and just making do! I don’t know about you guys but I want to decorate like Ellen DeGeneres except me budget more closely resembles that of a comedians first gif at the Edinburgh fringe! I am good at faking things so here’s how to make your pad look a million bucks, without actually spending a million bucks!
Mirrors elevate spaces –period! They expand horizons, add depth and have the ability to knock any space out of the park! I use mirrors everywhere and anywhere supersized ones, mid sized ones, round, square, oval they look super-sophisticated.
Wallpaper that mirrors concrete, paint that looks like stone, faux pony that looks like pony, faux flowers that look real. Game changers, they elevate and wow so much.
Art immediately makes any space cooler, grander more intriguing than it really is. You don’t need a ton of dosh either, I’ve seen huge flats of ply leaning against walls wrapped in paper or painted a cool colour so they look like a Rothko! Photographic prints blown up and supersized, big old paintings brought from flea markets and then scrawled over a la Banksy!
Single most transformative thing you can do to any room and the cheapest. Nothing turns things around, changes how you feel and add instant coolness than a huge vat of intriguing paint! Biggest game changer of all time in my book!
Forget all that mumbo jumbo about not being able to paper bathrooms; you absolutely can. In the past there was a problem with humidity, but now bathrooms are ventilated well and almost all paper work. Wallpaper is an amazing enhancement to a bathroom, because it is so unexpected. What is even more exciting is the choice out there. Almost anything goes!
Storage is key and fundamental for hiding lotion, potion and all the rest of the stuff that is unattractive to have out on display. Vanities that are wall-hung look super-sleek, or go floor to ceiling and paint out the same colour as your walls; the storage unit will disappear.
Bathrooms should reflect the rest of your space, so that when you walk into them you won't just find the loo, the sink and the tub. Under-accessorised, I find them a little 'Plain Jane'. But once you start adding layers, candles, art rugs, stools, plants and sculptures, you completely change the vibe of the space and cosy it up.
Rethink the bland and boring, choose a paint colour that sings to you, and you'll start living in a magical world, from which there is no return, as everything else feels not good enough.
Women that use their profiles to do great things in the world. Audrey Hepburn, Anita Roddick, Princess Diana, Angelina Jolie
Do you think there's equality between men and women in your workplace?
I think it all depends on where you work. When I was in a band, I felt as though I didn’t have a say in anything. Yet the boys in my band did, as it was such a male dominated industry. But now I’m designing, I don’t come across that many men, so I do see it.
Do you think a female Prime Minister or President would be any different than a male?
Why and how? I think it’s about strength. If there is a strong woman in power, it doesn’t make a difference if she is a woman.
Do you think it's important to have an International Women's Day?
I think it’s always a good thing to celebrate women, as women are so wonderful.
I am obsessed with cooking. I read recipe books at night like novels, and go to farmers' market weekly. In fact, most Saturday mornings you'll find me at either our local farmer's market or at Monmouth in Borough, drinking coffee at 7:30am with the two M's. Kid you not!
All of this means, of course, that I love my kitchen. I spend a lot of time in mine 0 it's a way pf unwinding at the end of the day or over the weekend.
Kitchens are tough to get right because they have to be supremely practical. But, particularly if you yours is open plan, like mine, it is vital to embellish and add to this space or it will feel disconnected from the rest of your pad.
If you're feeling confident, you could take the plunge and paint the while kitchen in an intoxicating hue, or paint out the units. It will give your kitchen an instant face-lift! Otherwise limit yourself to just one wall, a brightly coloured backsplash or just a handful of small accessories: funky coloured bar stools or a few bright vases, sculptures and platters can bring in lovely splashes of colour.
There's a big trend towards using paint not just as a backdrop but as as a decorative tool, and a way to make a statement.
Gloss is being used fir striking effect, as it gives spaces such a contemporary vibe. Take it one step further and paint an accent walk our in gloss and the rest in matte using the same hue. So rather than dragging, rolling or stippling, it's now all about contrasting finishes, whether you are missing and matching colour families or using more of a holistic palette.
Something I've often done for clients is to paint the ceiling out in a glossy hue, with the walls painted in the same hue in matte. This works beautifully in dining rooms if you happen to suspend a chandelier, the light glimmers, it looks spectacular.
If you fancy going super-glam, consider lacquering a wall. In which case, it's best to spray the paint as it has to be applied totally smoothly and required multiple coats.
Want to decorate like a pro? The big trick is to make whatever you're styling feel like it's always been there.
Paintings, mirrors and wall sconces turn flat surfaces into something more intriguing. When it comes to styling mantelpieces, shelves and consoles steer away from stuffy and over-considered, and think laidback lair.
Prop up your art for that cool bohemian vibe. Up the verticals. By which I mean, elongate the space by displaying something tall, like picture frames, flowers or plants. No matter how high or low your ceilings, it ups the impact.
Texture makes rooms more interesting. It creates ambience. And the best thing is, you can never overdose on it! The trick is to cause friction and put as many different materials in a room as possible. I'm talking hand-tufted rugs, oodles of sofa cushions, gilded frames, wooden tables, hand-thrown vases wicker...
If you gravitate towards feminine interiors, then loft of soft fine fabrics, smooth woods and shiny accessories will do the job nicely. If you're more attracted to the masculine feel, then a combo of rustic details, rich woods and velvet sofas works a treat.
Texture doesn't have the puling power of pattern or colour. Your eye will not automatically dart it it, so you really need to pile on those contrasts. It's the 'opposites attract' approach: pit rough against smooth, super-glossy against nubby, coarse against fine, modern against trad. Mix up your accessories avoid everything being super-glam or rustic, it can feel a little one-dimensional.
Retail as we know it is going through turbulent times. Brands are closing left right and centre 8,642 closures to be exact in America, department stores are struggling, and having to rethink how they operate. Life as it used to be in retail land is no longer. In part, I think this is a good thing, so many stores are run by accountants and accountants are all about margins, bottom lines and P&L – obviously that is not a bad thing. But accountants (and I’m speaking generally here) don’t like to much alchemy and when you start spouting about magic, visual and sensory stimulation and flying in life size camels made from scraps of fabric, that cost 5K and will make jaws hit flaws, they get a bit upset!
My point is that unless the people at the helm are obsessed with the products they are offering, and hair pull over every little detail retail suffers. I don’t shop in boring stores anymore; I buy whatever I need online. Bedding, pots, pans you name it. I only shop in stores where I feel tantalised and engaged and where I want to buy into the lifestyle, even if it’s a small candle or napkin. So, I happen to think for retail to survive in this day and age you have to do things differently. Do that and you have the opportunity to create a powerful incredible brand that delights customers.
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