Having already played host to four pop-up fashion brands and with plenty more in the pipeline, Nellie Atelier is redrawing the template for using retail space in a way that reflects the needs of today’s emerging designers.
Nellie Atelier is a unique fashion boutique located on London’s beautiful Kensington Park Road. The owners pride themselves in selecting exciting, ready to wear fashion collections from talented brands and designers, all chosen for their quality and craftmanship.
Whether created by an emerging designer or an established family manufacturer with a seasoned heritage, every single garment that they stock has a story to tell. We Are Pop Up spoke to one half of the shop’s husband and wife director team, Uros Pecek, about how these unique stories emerge, and how Nellie Atelier is dedicated to nurturing new independent retailers through We Are Pop Up’s ShopShare.
What it’s all about
Originally from Slovenia, Uros was previously involved with trading UK brands’ excess stock to fashion companies in his home country. He soon realised that rather than transferring from large markets to smaller ones, the ideal formula would be to provide the opportunity for smaller brands to access more established markets – like the UK. “With Nellie Atelier we wanted to introduce foreign brands to the market over here that have all the right attributes to succeed, but have not yet established themselves – particularly in London.”
Uros explains that with ShopShare, they have been able to put this ambition directly into place: “it is such an advantage for brands – it’s incredible. Whether your brand is Czech, Polish, Portuguese, or Mexican, you can test the market in the UK.
Even if you have to pay hundreds of pounds, that price is still peanuts in comparison to the amount you would pay for the lease of a shop in London.
Back in Slovenia, you can have a shop in 3 locations in the capital city and it takes 15 minutes to go to all of them. That’s not the case here.” This is where Nellie comes in – “all of the brands we take on gain experience here. We want to help them open their own shop.”
Speaking of when their boutique was still a fledgling concept, Uros says that “back when we were starting out in London, if pop-ups and ShopShare had existed, we would have definitely gone down that route. We could have tested the different brands we had in mind, and then decided which to bring to the UK market. It was a matter of learning, experiencing, interacting, and deciding how and where to invest. Now we know exactly what to do, so we want to give other brands that opportunity.”
ShopShare has been the ideal way for new, less experienced brands to test the waters with their products and begin the process of establishing and developing the scope of their business. “We wanted to create a platform for that ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5’ step formula.” So far the boutique has played host to Beste Bragg Haute Couture, 1P87, Georgieva Sisters, and Avenue 34.
One example Uros gives is of a European handbag brand in store. “Her original designs used a logo with a Croatian word on it, which wasn’t so well received by customers. She designed an alternative logo, now with her brand name, and has been more successful since.” This is a great example of how the boutique is striving to provide an environment for the important process of testing, measuring and learning for new brands.
Going the extra mile
At Nellie Atelier they don’t just offer a rail to hang your clothes; they want to help you do well – “we don’t want to see something that’s not working.” Uros explains that for one brand, the coming months will involve consulting with her to phase out the stock that isn’t working in order to find what sells best and identify her signature pieces. “You can start with with selling what you like, but the public may not feel the same. You can continue this long search, or you can go with something more focused that grabs attention. When this sells, you produce more.” This mentoring approach demonstrates just how much support the brands receive – something invaluable in the constantly changing world of retail. “Always be prepared to do a 180° turn. Especially in fashion.”
The brand experience
Nellie Atelier’s directors create a rich retail environment for new businesses where the world really is their oyster. Uros tells us that “coming to ShopShare, brands get the bonus of having ready-made logistics and the shop’s client base.” However, this doesn’t guarantee success, as it is definitely a steep learning curve. “Brands must learn how to plan things out, and think about absolutely everything. Like how to promote – it’s not about the shop, it’s about your brand. It all comes down to the brand experience.”
In the boutique they take care to prompt each designer for information about the items they stock, so they can do as much as possible to support each individual story. “We ask them to tell us about their brand so that we have the right knowledge to talk about their products with customers, especially when it comes to the point of trial. For example, the background and the fabric, or special information like any relations to charities or celebrities… If it’s made to measure, they need to tell us about the process, the consultation and the alteration.” Uros emphasises this point as a crucial piece of advice: “prepare as much as you can about your brand story. You need to make it exciting and interesting.”
Talking about the website, Uros tells us that “before we found We Are Pop Up, we promoted directly to a lot of brands and got great feedback. But now with the We Are Pop Up platform everything is easier; I can offload everything onto this service that is constantly working for me, promoting me and pushing up my reputation.”
In terms of the future of ShopShare with Nellie Atelier, the boutique are looking to expand to more destinations around London. “With new shop locations, brands can test out different areas. For example we have a hat designer – here in this more affluent area the products are in demand for Ascot, teas, and formal events. If the brand moved to Shoreditch it would be approaching a completely different market. The targeting changes. Maybe they will be successful in a different way as a ‘quirky’ item to wear when you go for coffee. A brand could try something like this for one week to see the response and go from there.”
Learn, learn, and learn some more
When it comes to the outcome of a ShopShare experience, Uros explains they have found with many of the brands that “sales are not necessarily the most important thing – you may only break even. Getting to know your planning, execution, and marketing is key. It’s all about learning.”
In contrast, “established brands may be better prepared when it comes to selling, but sometimes they can’t get out of the ‘stockist mode’ – they don’t care about selling to the consumer because they have already made their money selling their stock to the shop.” The passion of new designers, paired with the boutique’s willingness to mentor and educate, is what makes Nellie Atelier and ShopShare such a perfect match.
Seeing these people starting out in the industry, Uros tells us that “it is a very interesting experience with the brands coming through the door. Many have found us through We Are Pop Up – it’s a constant stream. Canadian, Lithuanian, Portuguese…these are just those brands stepping out onto the street, and I give them big credit for that, putting themselves out there.”
Ultimately, Uros sees ShopShare as a stepping stone. “You need to focus. Ask yourself questions: what am I trying to do here? Where am I going next? You can test a brand, help it grow, and it can eventually grow out of ShopShare right into its own shop.”
Why not start your own ShopShare now and make contact with Uros here>>
196 Kensington Park Road
London, W11 2ES