Saturday, 16 March 2013

Graduate Student: Katie Campbell at Lola Lemon

It was great to catch up and interview Katie Campbell of Lola Lemon recently. Katie is a graduate of HND Fashion Design and Production with Retail at Adam Smith College and is doing really well in the world of fashion retail in Scotland. From planning fashion events to buying at Paris Fashion Week, fitting customers and handling promotion with social media, Katie is loving her job managing Lola Lemon in Larbet, Scotland, a thriving 2 year old business providing unique fashion and an enjoyable retail experience.

Katie Campbell

Q1. Which degree did you do and where after Adam Smith College?

After completing my fashion HND at college I studied BA Events Management at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

Q2. What were the highlights of your time at University?

I was a direct entrant to 2nd year which was a really practical, hands on year. I planned a large 'Fashions of Music' event that raised awareness and funds for the charity Visible Children. The whole process was carried out over 6 months and entailed the production of ancillary events such as flash mobs to raise funds for the main event itself. A huge deal of networking was involved and the process presented oppertunities for me to work outwith my comfort zone which taught me new skills such as IT. Fantastic fun and a great experience.

Q3. Lola Lemon - can you tell us the who, what, where, why and when of the fashion boutique you manage?

We are Lola Lemon Ltd - There is one store, opened on 1st April 2011 in Larbert Main Street. Elaine Caie decided to open the store as she has three daughters who are growing up fast and she wanted a fun job to keep her occupied while they were at school and doing activites. She had been a visual merchandiser for Jenners and Marks and Spencer when she was much younger and had alsways adored fashion. Larbert is where she lives which is on the central belt and people from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Fife regularly travel to visit us. There were originally just two of us running the store, now there are 4 sometimes 5. We buy higher end dresses from Tony Bowls, Pia Michi, Sophia Tolli, Mascara and Dynasty. We buy lower end wholesale from London, brands such as Almost Famous, CeMe London and Goddess.

Q4. Who do you sell to and how do you promote?

Our target market ranges from 16-60. We predominantly sell Prom, Wedding and Cruise wear pieces for the first half of the year but also sell a lot of lower end party dresses, tops and accessories for everyday social events. The second half of the year we sell a large number of Christmas party dresses again, ball gowns for graduations, charity events and winter wear. Our lower end ranges are constantly chaging to meet the demands of our customers. We have carried out trunk fashion shows a number of times and promote our store through our facebook page. There are weekly online competitions which have promted over 15,000 followers to like our fb page with in the last 22 months. Other than that, we do not spend a penny on marketing and never have done. Word of mouth works really well for us.

Q5. What do you enjoy most about your job and what is next for you and Lola Lemon?

I genuinely enjoy every aspect of my job. It is possibly because I am involved in all areas of the business from managing the website and sales to fitting customers for their exciting events to come. I am also involved in the buying processes and thoroughly enjoy the event side to Lola Lemon. I most likely wouldn't have learned so much in so little time having worked with in a larger company.
We have just attended Paris Fashion Week looking for new fashion houses to buy from that will continue to keep Lola Lemon unique as that is what our customers seem to love so much about us.

Q6. What advice would you give students currently studying on HND Fashion Design and Production with Retail?

I felt that many of the students in my year felt there were really only three options to further their future in fashion. The first was to become a buyer which sounds really glamorous but made some students nervous when they realised that it wasn't just about travelling and fashion trade shows but also about dealing with figures and managing budgets!

The second was to study textiles and design at Heriot Watt. Many of my classmates did that.

The third was to study fashion marketing or fashion management at Glasgow Caledonian or Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen then find work in that field. Some of my classmates did that and others went straight in to Visual Merchandising jobs.

My advice would be instead of looking at fashion courses as one topic for four years, maybe mix it up a little yourself and take events management which is a huge part of the fashion industry and can teach you a lot about being a professional business-woman too. I would also explain that I thought I would either become a visual merchandiser or a wedding planner 3 years ago. Since then I have combined the two in my job along with Assistant Buyer, Sales Manager and E-commerce Manager. I even repair the odd dress every now and again! I would advise the students not to limit themselves.

Find what you are good at, be brave, open minded and enjoy, then find a way to make money out of it! I was recommended to the owner of the business as a manager the same month I finished my HND at Adam Smith. I had never met the owner nor had I managed a couture fashion store before but I accepted the opportunity and threw myself into the job. Having graduated Queen Margaret last summer, I now work in the industry I love full time and couldn't be happier.

Many thanks Katie. Here is the Lola Lemon facebook page with 15,000 followers!/LolaLemon?fref=ts

and here is a link to the website 

Its great to see new businesses flourishing in Scotland and providing something different in the fashion market place and also inspiring to see you so happy and enjoying the challenges of a fast paced fashion life. Congratulations x

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