Beulah London is a luxury fashion brand with a focus on British design, heritage and the empowerment of women. Founded in 2010, Beulah London has gained international acclaim for its chic, cosmopolitan womenswear and as a luxury brand with a social conscience. Hilary Atherton from our London office put some questions to Lavinia Brennan, co-founder of Beulah London…
Beulah London has a London store as well as selling online. Where does your focus lie and are you seeing a shift from bricks to clicks?
We have a very dual-channel approach at the moment where we are focusing both online and in-store. We opened our London boutique in April this year and launched a new website in July that is both mobile and tablet responsive. At the moment our sales are 50% online and 50% in-store but we recognise the potential for faster international growth through our website.
What kind of difficulties do you face in maintaining the authenticity of a British brand on an international fashion platform?
We are very lucky that Beulah London was founded by two British girls who live in London so everything that we do remains authentic to that. All of our designing is done in London, our prints designed in-house in our studio and our dresses manufactured in London, so ‘Britishness’ really is at the heart of everything we do.
How do you think social media can help a brand to grow and connect with its customers?
We use social media as a way of creating a lifestyle brand so that customers can understand the inspiration behind collections, what we like doing, and anything that really captures the spirit of us as founders. We use it as a tool to inspire and empower our customers and to reach out to them in a very real and authentic way. Social media is a very powerful tool because you can reach such a vast amount of people in a way that has never been possible before; it is just another touch point for customers to come into contact with your brand and so everything from the voice to the content has to be true to what you are as a brand.
A social conscience is a key tenet of Beulah London brand - how important do you think it is for a fashion brand to be more than just a retailer?
I think that customers are becoming far more educated about what they are buying and brands that have a story to them are really starting to stand out. We are lucky because our story is at the heart of everything that we do and the reason why we founded the brand; Beulah London was born out of an experience that both Natasha and myself had over 5 years ago now, working in the slums of Delhi in an aftercare home for women who have been trafficked into the sex trade. It was from this experience that we witnessed the power of employment to transform lives. Our vision is to empower women; not only through producing beautiful clothes that inspire the women who wear them, but also by being committed to supporting women trapped by human slavery through creating employment opportunities and raising awareness of their plight. For example, we have partnered with a fair trade business called Freeset, which offers employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. The women make up canvas bags for us which retail at £35. We have also partnered with the United Nations’ Blue Heart Campaign, donating 10% of profits of our blue heart pieces to the cause.
What can brands do to become more socially responsible?
I always think that it’s important to start small and to set yourself realistic goals - you don’t want to be falling at the first hurdle! Whichever industry you are in, I think it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded people and to work collaboratively. It’s so much harder if you try and achieve these things on your own. Finally, a cause has to be authentic and linked to the business - customers are savvy and they will be able to tell if it’s an afterthought.
How does IP affect Beulah London?
Like many young brands, we weren’t as aware of the importance of IP protection as we perhaps should have been. However, as the business has grown we have come to recognise the importance of protecting our intellectual property as we view it as a source of competitive advantage, especially in fashion where innovation and creative expression are so fundamental.
This article is part of the Bird & Bird's fifth edition of BrandWrites
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