So, how did Wonderlust start?
I’d always wanted to have a clothing line, since I was young reading my mum’s fashion magazines. So when my friend Dom Sharp* told me about this great idea he had for a graphic design that he was going to put onto a canvas, I said that’s really great but you’re going to make a load more money doing a t-shirt line with that design. From this point though, I begin to feel really bad when discussing the origin story because I always think to myself: ‘do I want to start a company that’s from revenge or do I want to make it look like I had passion?’
Revenge? Do tell me more….
So Dom and I spent about a month working really hard figuring out the name of the brand, the ethos etc. He was sending me designs back and forth, and I was trying to find the right manufacturer, sort out the website and so on. Somewhere along the line we had a huge row, and I didn’t want to speak to him ever again. I was very upset – I was really excited about doing this clothing line with him, even though I was more the business side of things. Then I remembered an idea that I pitched to him for a t-shirt, that he’d said was terrible. So I sat down in front of my computer and created it, and it was one of our biggest sellers in the first season!
Which design was it?
It was the ‘Chill Slut’ top. Ed Drewett wore it, and we still have people requesting it. It’s going to be on sale from the 20th of February. Once I had done that t-shirt and I had the sample, I thought to myself, this is right, I can design a line.
Are you still at odds with Mr Sharp?
I never used the graphic that he came up with, and it’s now amicable between us. The first time we spoke again he was too drunk to remember it, and I was too pissed off to have a phone in my hand. When we spoke after that it was sort of like: ‘well, have a nice life, thanks for impacting mine, and I’ll see you at some point in the future.’
How did you come up with the name ‘Wonderlust London’?
I don’t really know! I think I’d seen a film called ‘Wanderlust.’ It was one the worst films I’d ever seen, but I thought about it and ended up with ‘Wonderlust.’ I thought ‘ooh what can I put after it?’ I tried ‘Wonderlust Apparel’, but thought it sounded too like American apparel, so I ended up with ‘Wonderlust London’, and it was perfect. The website address was available, and everything went swimmingly.
What’s been key to your success?
I will do whatever it takes, to pull something off. For example when I found the manufacturing company, I wanted to have a look at the samples before I took them to see Dom, so I got on a train myself and went to Sheffield and picked up a load of samples. All off my own back. But it needed to be done – you can’t have a clothing line with terrible textures and bad quality material: it needs to look good and feel great.
Would you say social media has been paramount to your success?
Yes! And it’s free! Social media is here to stay, it’s the way to go. You can really interact with customers through social media, people can feel that we care. We can get to know the customers, which is nice. For Wonderlust as a brand, twitter has been the most effective way to communicate. Through twitter we’ve had people like Ed Drewett wear our clothes. Facebook hasn’t been so useful though, and haven’t started playing around with Tumblr yet, but we really want to.
So did you just tweet people like Ed Drewett and voilá?
I tweeted him once, and the first thing he did was tweet me back saying he loved the clothes. The day he wore two Wonderlust t-shirts and tweeted it was crazy! People were ordering by the bucket load, tweeting like mad, my phone did not stop going off for about five hours. With Joel Dommett. I tweeted one day ‘the one person I want to see in Wonderlust this year is ‘@joeldommett’ and he tweeted me back saying ‘great collection, love it.’ I asked if we could send him something. He wasn’t sure – not wanting to take free clothes, but I was like ‘do it, love it, go for it!’
What has been your most successful moment?
The first order. The thirtieth order. Every order for me is a very small success. Having people like Ed Drewett and Joel Dommett wear and be excited about the clothes has also been great. Another big success is the support we’ve had, that’s such a high for me. We’ve had people really get behind the brand, wanting to wear the clothes and be seen in them, and tweeting endlessly about it.
What have been your main struggles?
Everything. Everything until the day we pressed go on the website. Obviously there was the fight with Dom, which set me off on a bad foot. Also, we had samples that had to be delivered on a particular morning for the first photo shoot. By 11am, when nothing had arrived, I had to tell all the models that we wouldn’t be able to do the shoot. At 12 everything arrived, meaning we lost a day of shooting and push back the launch. That was a huge stress. Also, the day before we were meant to launch my mum fell over and seriously damaged her knee, pushing the launch back further because I was in the hospital all day with her, then I cared for her the next two days. So that was another big blow.
How much did Wonderlust cost to start up?
More that I would’ve liked! I personally wanted to do this for as cheap as possible, but it came to around £600. We had to print the t-shirts a certain way at the beginning. Had we done it the other way, then I would’ve needed more of an initial investment, which I didn’t have. But we’re changing that now: we used to print on demand, and because of that I was having to pay a premium. Now we’re able to buy in bulk, meaning we can push our price down!
What was your goal price point for the t-shirts?
T-Shirts are £23 at the moment, hoodies and jumpers are £32. The new price point we’re looking at is taking t-shirts down to £15. The reason I’m pushing the prices down is because, as a brand, we’ve had a certain amount of success, but there is only so much success you can achieve at £23 a t-shirt. So these new price points are much closer to what I originally wanted. We’ve also got the big February sale! All t-shirts we currently have will be £15.
Did you learn how to make a website as you were going along, or did you get some help?
I’m going to break it down for you: I bought a domain name, I downloaded wordpress from wordpress.org. I then spent £35 and bought a theme for the website – I didn’t design it! I just bought a theme. Since then everything has been dandy.
So it’s not as difficult as one might think?
No, not at all. But google is there for you, we’re not living in world of books. It’s all there somewhere.
Top 5 tips you’d give to someone who wants to start their own clothing line?
- You need a to do list, it sounds stupid but get one. Download Evernote from the App store. It is the best software I’ve ever used. Basically it’s like an online filing cabinet. If you see something on the internet, you can just save it onto your Evernote, and view it whenever you want. It’s beautiful. It’s free. It’s perfect.
- Don’t panic if you don’t get your first order within a day. Some companies don’t get orders for months. It’s just how it is.
- Stay calm. Things are going to go wrong. I had a friend who would always be there to calm me down when I was on the edge, or on the verge of giving up. You also need something else to do. At the end of the day it’s fashion, we’re not saving lives! Things can always be worse. Realising this is very important. My rocky start helped me get this under control
- Don’t release an item because you need a filler. You only need a collection of 2-4 to start with, don’t kill yourself putting in filler pieces. During the research I did before I launched, I could tell what wasn’t designed as well as some of the best pieces.
- Know your brand, and don’t over-research. Do not write a business plan because that is such a waste if you’re a creative person. If you’re spending too much time looking at your competition you just start getting nervous. Skim the surface, don’t immerse yourself.
Wonderlust sale is on NOW until the 28th February, get yourself to www.wonderlustlondon.com