When I heard that a new department store was opening ONE street over from my home in Farringdon, I rushed down. Quite literally. A mini Selfridges *my favourite place, like, ever* a few steps from my front door. Well, you can imagine my excitement.
And Antoni and Alison’s department store is even more stunning that I had imagined. I met the founders and asked them all about how they launched this store in one of the most competitive shopping landscapes on the planet. Prepare to be totally inspired…
1. Why did you decide to open a department store? It’s certainly a very unique one! Did you feel that now is the right time?
The building is beautiful and in a lovely part of Central London and we felt it should be shared. We thought the Tearoom would be perfect for this, and from there we grew the concept of the ‘Department Store’. We’re really opening up the whole building for everyone to enjoy. We decided to then departmentalise our work onto the different floors.
2. How did you both get into the industry?
We actually both met at what was then called St Martins School of Art in 1982. Alison was studying Fine Art and Antoni was studying Fashion. We left college in 1986 and in 1987, and set up Antoni & Alison with just £200! It can be done.
3. Do you think modern shopping habits are changing/evolving?
Just about everyone has learnt how to buy online. Yet we find that our customers come to us looking to find something special and that is not as easy to get find online. An interesting website that represents your brand is definitely important, but we have found that more of our customer actually want to walk through the door, look through & try on pieces. The new modern shopper is more 3D than 1D.
4. What would your advice be for someone wanting to open a store or start a business?
When we decided to start the business, we did what we felt was right for us and our brand. Our advice would be if it feels correct, and your reasons are justified, be spontaneous and start.
Go and visit Antoni and Alison, and visit their website here.