Victoria Le Marquand is the founder of IndependentBoutique.com - a unique online store that unites the best British brands and designers that UK fashion has to offer. Her site champions the rich talent and creativity that is prevalent within the UK fashion industry.
IndependentBoutique.com has been designed to allow brands to showcase their collections alongside similar products allowing customers to find both well known and undiscovered brands in one location. Of course, every brand has to meet Victoria's high standards and have been handpicked so that your shopping experience is exciting and fulfilling. We spent five minutes chatting to Victoria about her exciting website...
What's your background? What do you do?
I lived in Brighton, studying textiles and went on to specialise in knitwear at Sussex University. I began work as a knitwear designer / maker selling designs to a range of companies; French Connection, Paul Smith, Missoni, Cacharel and Donna Karan, to name a few. I then worked as head designer of women's accessories for a high street supplier, designing for most of the high street; River Island, Topshop, Faith, Miss Selfridge etc
I started my own knitwear label 'Marmalade' in 2005, selling high-end cashmere to independent boutiques and departments stores mainly in the UK, with some in Europe and Worldwide. I also work as a consultant designer, designing and supplying cashmere to a number of clients and department stores under their own label ranges. IndependentBoutique.com launched in May of this year, beginning with the sign-up of the brands. We now have over 70+ British brands on the site with more signing up to sell with us each week.
Why the Independent Boutique? What do you hope to achieve?
The idea for IndependentBoutique.com began after being approached by other marketplace sites to sell my cashmere brand through them. I felt the concept was a great idea, where brands upload and ship their own products. At that time, none of the sites were focussing solely on fashion, nor were they designed to sell clothing. I didn't want to see Marmalade being sold in this environment. I created the site so I could have access to a beautiful online retail space, selling alongside other British designers.
As an independent brand owner it is hugely beneficial to sell together, as a collective, under one roof. IndependentBoutique.com is a great place to shop, having all the brand's collections alongside each other. The site is also a great place to sell your collection from a brand's point of view. With the site managing the Marketing and PR, the brands receive individual marketing but also benefit from the other brands PR from being under the IndependentBoutique.com umbrella.
With the brands working together and pooling contacts we have already established a big customer base. The ethos of the site is to work together to obtain a bigger slice of the market. By joining forces brands have more selling power and also more buying power. We are currently looking into lowering costs on shipping for the brands as a whole with the intention of lowering other costs in future, by buying in bulk and brokering deals as a collective. We are working hard to establish the site as the destination to find British brands online, creating our own, luxury, British department store.
Is it all about British designers?
Yes, the site is about British brands, all the brands that sell on the site must be based in the UK. Over 50% of the brands manufacture in the UK so it is a perfect showcase for British creative talent and British manufacturing. With an emphasis on quality, British designers and manufacturers produce some of the most respected and interesting collections in the world. Currently we are working to establish the site in the UK but long term we envisage the overseas market as a very important area for us. We already have a large number of overseas visitors to the site with many requesting to be notified once international shipping is enabled. The look and feel of the site is very British, it has a certain style that you don't get with so many of the other sites, where the collections are bought in from round the world. This gives IndependentBoutique.com a point of difference which is very important in this crowded market.
I love the clothing and products on your website, it's so refreshing to see so many quality designers in one place - is that what you're aiming for? Quality?
Absolutely, we have a strict selection process with an emphasis on quality, style and originality. The brands also have to have excellent product and lifestyle photography. As the site develops we are attracting more and more established British brands. These include the internationally acclaimed knitwear brand, Madeleine Thompson and the cult London jewellery brand, Tatty Devine. We are also in final talks with Marilyn Moore and Beaumont Organics to name a few. Unlike other marketplace sites IndependentBoutique.com is for both established and emerging brands.
How do you decide which designers to include?
We get approached by a lot of brands daily but as mentioned above we have a strict selection policy based on products and photography. Since the launch I have been personally responsible for sourcing brands with a focus on quality and reputation. I also have to ensure the brands selected sit well alongside the other designers on the site.
What can people find on your website?
Collections from 70+ brands of well-made, beautifully designed, stylish products at a range of prices. We sell clothing, bags, jewellery, hats, scarves and footwear. We have new brands joining the site weekly, with new products being added most days, we also have a blog with our latest news and press pieces. For some of our brands IndependentBoutique.com is the only place to buy their products online. Marmalade produces exclusive collections for the site that cannot be bought elsewhere. As the site grows we will be working closely with some of the brands to produce more exclusive collections for the site. We also have a great sale section for past season pieces which is used by the brands to turnover older stock.
To find out more visit Independentboutique.com.