James Lakeland’s design passion began at his father’s luxury suede and leather business. Specialising in the creation of men’s and women’s wear, it was here that he learnt the importance of quality, great design, the value of detail, and personal service. His “grass roots” experience and love of fashion encouraged Lakeland to start his own women’s wear collection
In 2000, James launched his first capsule knitwear label. This collection took shape in luxurious cashmere and wool blends in rich tonal shades. The look, effortless elegance, with great wardrobe basics, was an instant hit. A loyal customer following emerged. Today the James Lakeland brand is very much a family business, located in the United Kingdom and selling globally. EBX spoke with James Lakeland about his entrepreneurial experience.
EBX: Why did you decide to found your own company?
JL: I’d been working for various showrooms in Milan before being headhunted by an English manufacturer that worked with Burberry and Harrods Luxury. I was in the living room discussing work with my mother one day and we thought; let’s do it ourselves! So we started to research manufacturers in Italy and we went from there.
EBX: What’s different about your business? What’s your USP?
JL: I’ve always followed my own style and I’ve never been interested in copying other people. I’ve always designed for a woman who appreciates quality and the Made in Italy label
EBX: How will you grow your business?
JL: I plan to grow the online side of the business and the e-shop, which we have recently re-launched. I also plan to expand internationally in order to have a presence in the emerging markets, where there is a great demand for beautiful quality product.
EBX: What is the single most important principle for creating a successful business?
JL: You need to have a good reputation and people need to trust you
EBX: What percentage of your clientele are returning customers?
JL: Extremely high, above 70%
What additional value do clients insist on today?
JL: Clients today want quality, the Made in Italy label, something a bit different, and value for money.
EBX: How would you describe your marketing mix?
JL: We aim to hit all the key areas with our marketing by investing in advertising and PR as well as running a number of consumer and wholesale events and fashion shows in collaboration with our retailers. We also work to maintain out online line and social media presence and we are working on some exciting projects with key bloggers at the moment.
How do you integrate the media channels?
JL: We integrate out media channels with recognizable branding through-out our campaigns. The Icon dress for example is a piece that we repeat every season in different colour ways and features in our campaign shoots. It has come to be instantly recognizable as a James Lakeland piece.
EBX: And, how do you see this mix changing in the next couple of years?
JL: I think that over the next couple of years, the emphasis increasingly shift to online and social media.
EBX: How do you measure the success of your marketing strategy?
JL: Brand awareness, growth of our database and conversion into sales
EBX: What five lessons do start-ups need to keep in mind?
Don’t over-extend too quickly
Don’t change direction if you have a bad day or week
Keep a very clear company philosophy
Work with loyal people
Never give up
Discover James Lakeland : www.jameslakeland.net
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Brian Maguire – email@example.com
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