Holly Scarsella is the founder of Pampelone, a resort wear brand that's already providing hugely popular, highlighted by the press and stocked by retailers such as Bloomingdales. We asked Holly more about how she started a fashion label.
Where did the inspiration for the aesthetic behind Pampelone come from?
PAMPELONE is resort wear inspired by the Riviera and made ethically in India. We bridge the gap between high street and high-end, offering well-priced yet high-quality pieces.
The idea for PAMPELONE first stemmed from my time spent growing up in the South of France. Our family had a holiday home in which we spent 4/5 months a year, and when on the beach, the women always looked so chic yet effortless wearing linen pieces bought from St Tropez market. But no matter how hard I looked to buy these pieces when back in the UK, I could never find anything that had the same effect.
What initial market research did you do to establish demand?
Initially the research came from personal experience. When planning my honeymoon wardrobe, I was desperately looking for resort wear pieces to take with me. I really did not want to wear high street pieces –you just know they will fall apart after a few washes and that you’ll be sure to find someone else wearing it, but the only alternative were dresses and kaftans costing £300-500, which for me just was not viable. I did some research and was shocked that there was nothing really in between these price points - and hence PAMPELONE was born.
From a wider market research perspective, I then chose a select group of industry colleagues to ask their personal opinions and experiences in the resortwear sector. This really helped in gaining honest feedback to move forward with.
What is the process of designing the pieces like?
My design process is very hands-on. We start by putting inspiration boards together with a specific Riviera location in mind. Our first collection was St Tropez, our Second was Capri and SS17 is Ibiza. We then move forward looking at colours, fabrics and shapes. I actually fly to our manufacturer in India twice a year to work with the pattern cutters to finalise shapes and fabrics in person. Nothing is better than trawling through the miles of fabrics at the Indian markets to try and find the best fabric possible.
How did you find a manufacturer?
Finding a manufacturer is one of the hardest elements to place when starting a clothing business. They need to be reliable, match your minimum quantities, be a high enough quality but still be competitive in price. I always knew we would be working with 100% embroidered cotton and I always knew I wanted an ethical factory, so travelling to India was a clear decision for me. We met with numerous factories and factory owners to ensure firstly, they were ethical, but secondly that they believed in our brand and wanted to continue the journey with us. You never want to be 'just another client' to a factory as you will find late deliveries and quality will fade. They need to buy into you and your brand and want to work with you in the long-term.
Do you sell online only, or do you have a physical store?
Our current business model is e-commerce and via wholesale channels. We are in over 250 retail points globally via 90 retail partners, including Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdales etc. We would like to own a stand alone store in the future - however it is such a huge investment we would need to wait for the right time to do this.
How do you get visibility for your designs?
Once you have set up your brand with designs, a store etc, you're probably only still half of the way there. You then need to market your brand. There is no point at all having the best product in the world if no one knows about it. Social Media is a key and effective way of promoting your brand.
For clothing and lifestyle particularly, customers use Instagram as their first touch point of your brand - think of it as an extra shop front and invest accordingly.
Most important thing you have learnt from the early days of starting up a label?
Stick to what you do and do it well. Ensure quality is as high as you can provide for your price point and stay focused on your brand. No one is better at selling your brand than you. Live and breathe your brand, and the hype will follow!
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