In conversation with Brat and Suzie owner Polly Vickers
Polly Vickery attended the London College of Fashion, where she studied styling and photography. Later, she worked at Agent Provocateur, and after becoming ‘sick of wearing the same pink dress everyday’, decided to get back into fashion and move away from retail. She soon began working for a few high street suppliers, before later moving on to River Island, and eventually, starting her own label with her sister, Brat and Suzie, recently featured on the popular television series, Dragon’s Den.
G: Tell us about your startup, Brat and Suzie
P: Based in East London, Brat and Suzie is an animal-inspired fashion brand creating designs that are super-cute, playful, perfectly cut, high-quality and above all fun! We combine an obsession with fashion with a love for all things cute (particularly animals).
With my twin sister – fashion designer Charlotte Vickery – on board, the collection is expanding into dresses and shorts to complete the entire Brat and Suzie look. We are also working with some of the most talented up-and-coming illustrators in the country such as Louise Boulter, Rachel Hasley, and Emily May to introduce even more unique styles and prints.
G: What were the biggest obstacles in launching your company, and how did you overcome them?
P: The most nerve-racking thing about quitting a full-time job to start a company from scratch is not having a regular paycheck at the end of the month, and worrying about paying the rent. I started Brat and Suzie on evenings and weekends to get a feel for the market before I gave up my day job. It comes to a point though where you have to really commit to it, and if you believe in your business – be brave and take the plunge! I would advise having some savings set aside though, to cover you for the first couple of months.
G: What would you say has been your most memorable moment since launching Brat and Suzie?
The first time I saw a person walking down the street wearing one of our t-shirts. It was a girl outside Topshop wearing a monkey boots t-shirt. She looked great in it as well, with a really cool jacket over the top.
G: Can you give us a few ‘Do’s and Dont’s’ for setting up a new company?
- Try and stay motivated – even if you’re not busy there is always something useful you could be doing.
- Try and get a studio to work from. Shared studios are pretty cheap if you look around and it makes all the difference having a place to go to work at. I found working from home really hard as there are so many things that can become distracting – Jeremy Kyle is a time drain!
- Speak to lots of people, and seek advice from those who have been in similar situations
- Get disheartened. Not everyone is going to love what you’re doing but as long as the important people do, that’s all that matters.
- Get carried away spending money on expensive equipment that you don’t need. Think about every purchase carefully
G: Why did you choose Shoreditch in launching your startup?
P: It’s the best place to be in London. There are so many vintage shops and places around to find inspiration and there is always so much going on. I love the way you can walk around a corner and be confronted with a drawing of a ten-foot rabbit! I get to stroke Lenny the cat who lives at the Pride of Spitalfields on my way to work everyday, and the bagels on Brick Lane are the best!
G: What does the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ have to do to compete with Silicon Valley?
P: The council should work hard to ensure that business rents stay competitive – if the rents rise too high they will drive out Shoreditch’s creatives and these are the people who make Shoreditch such a fun and exciting place to live and work in.
G: Who/what are your favourite entrepreneurs/startups in Shoreditch?
- Print Club on Brick Lane is a gallery selling prints from their printing studio in Dalston. They have classes in screen printing which are really good value for money and the gallery has some amazing affordable pieces.
- Beyond Retro on Great Marlborough Street opened way before all the other vintage shops popped up in the area, but it’s still the best. They have so many clothes in there that it’s impossible to come away without buying something. I I’m still waiting for my friend Andrea to have her Dynasty party so I can buy one of their 80’s cocktail dresses!
G: What does the future have in store for Shoreditch?
P: As long as the creatives are not driven out by rising rents, Shoreditch will establish itself as the creative and entrepreneurial hub of London. Hopefully it will keep its individuality and slightly rough and ready edge without too many identikit chain stores moving in.