Interview with Alice Tibble, founder of Neue London
Designer Alice Tibble knew that it would be almost impossible for her to continue her career in the fashion industry and be a mum. So before she started her family, she launched her own business, Neue London.
What’s your career background?
During my degree at London College of Fashion, I had been to visit a friend on an internship in NYC and fallen in love with the idea of working there. It just felt so exciting.
To start with I interned at Catherine Malandrino, after which they offered me a full time position. It was a small, creative company and fast paced.
After this I moved to Calvin Klein which gave me a great insight into the working of a global brand. I moved back to London where I then worked for Reiss for two years.
How did your career change after having children?
Before I started a family I took the decision to start my own business. Having worked in the fashion industry for many years, I knew if would be very hard, almost impossible to have a family and keep a full time job at the same time. Fashion design jobs in London tend to have long hours and freelancing jobs are hard to come by.
It was my hope that working for myself would give me greater flexibility should I decide to have a family. I’m lucky that I have my design studio in my home so I’ve found I can successfully juggle work and family at the same time.
Where did the idea for Neue London come from?
From working in the industry for a few years, I really felt there was a place for beautiful prints. My USP is that my prints are designed for every day wear from work to the weekend. I wanted to create pieces that were as comfortable and practical as they were beautiful.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
Making the collection was the easy part as this is where I’d had considerable experience having worked for some international designers in the past. It was just a case of sourcing good manufacturers – which in London was luckily pretty easy.
Making Neue London into a business was harder. I attended 2 days of seminars with the CFE and I think this was a key learning for me. The course took me through all aspects of starting a business; from registering your brand name, to understanding PR and Marketing. It was also great to meet other people with small fashion businesses like mine.
What’s your USP?
Beautiful printed silk in classic, modern styles.
Who’s your target audience?
Women aged 25-60. We aim to appeal to women who want quality and are looking for something they can invest in and wear for more than just one season.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
PR and social media are vital to any new business. Fashion is such a competitive industry we need to ensure we are seen in the right media. We work with a mixture of print and online titles, plus engage with those all important fashion bloggers! E-commerce is another key part of driving the business forward.
I am very proactive on social media. We focus on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as I love to be able to share our news instantly and engage so creatively with our customers.
I think instagram is particularly important, as through the images people can see and interact with the lifestyle behind the brand, and feel part of it by tagging us in their own lifestyle posts. Social media is a very important tool and it is amazing just how much it has revolutionised the fashion industry.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
I wouldn’t say that one strategy alone has helped our success so far. It’s really a combination of PR, social media and marketing.
It’s been important for us to take part in both press facing and consumer facing events, to have a presence at the leading trade shows and to meet with buyers to ensure we have a good range of stockists to compliment our e-commerce site.
You have to have a multi-platform PR and marketing strategy as people engage with ideas and brands in different ways.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
As a young company, I feel like there a lot of obstacles still to over come but at this stage, it was really making the first leap and starting the business that was the biggest hurdle!
And your proudest moment so far?
I’m really proud of the website. It’s modern and functional and I really feel it communicates our brand messages and vision very clearly.
Why is work so important to you?
It’s not so much that work is important – It’s more that I feel it’s important to enjoy what you do. We spend a lot of our lives “at work”. If it can be enjoyable then that’s a massive bonus.
Who inspires you?
Lots of people – but I’ve been thinking a lot about Bill Cunningham this week. How dedicated and enthusiastic he was about fashion and people’s choice of self-expression. I think it’s so important to remember that fashion is fun and his work always reminded me of this.
How do you balance your business with your family?
I think like most people I’m still trying to figure that one out. I think it is especially hard as a new mum.
What are your three top pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
- Listen to you instinct when making decisions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – you’ll find lots of people willing to help or give you advice.
- Be clear on what your goals are.
You can find out more about Neue London on their website.