As part of our on-going Hot Pop Ups series, we’ve decided to expand the lens and provide our community with insights into the thinking, development and foundations that underpin exciting shop concepts.
This week we interviewed Alexandra Heywood, owner and operator of teastained Lil. Alexandra was a short-lister for the most recent Boxpark competition, winning a runner-up prize of a free week-long pop up in Shoreditch. She has recently set up her own pop-up shop with a couple friends in Camden. We got in touch to hear more about how teastained Lil came about, and what Alexandra has planned for the future of her brand!
We Are Pop Up (WAPU): Describe your current pop up in 3 words.
Alexandra Heywood (AH): Stylish fashion boutique.
WAPU: What is the concept or aim behind it?
AH: Committed to selling style with style – teastained Lil prides itself on selling unique, stylish and chic day-to-evening wear and jewellery, with value-added style advice, inspiration and events.
We are of the firm belief that people need the right environment within which to shop and that they deserve to feel special and inspired. teastained Lil is putting shopping back in fashion.
WAPU: Has this changed as you build up your pop up experience?
Lil: Our pop-up shop experience and unique shopping events have only strengthened our belief – and company manifesto – that shopping should be personal, experiential and it should go beyond the till transaction. teastained Lil is intent on making every ‘pop-up’ opportunity different and inspired so the ‘pop-up’ model works perfectly for us, allowing us to be versatile and adds an air of exclusivity and mystique.
On setting up the business, we were told continually how important our online presence should be and that’s how people prefer to shop so we’re buoyed by the fact that this is not always the case and people do want to get out there and experience different things.
WAPU: What can visitors expect when coming to your pop up?
AH: Every pop-up event we run is themed so that customers experience something different. Our last pop-up event was called, teastained Lil’s Frockology, and customers were invited to a shopping event based on our Law of Frockology. It offered style advice, inspired looks, and customers could experience style advisory services such as ‘Frockin Hell’ alongside to bespoke cocktails, cupcakes and live music.
Our more long-term pop-up boutiques are always appropriately styled and offer customers a first look at our new fashion and jewellery ranges. We run various promotions in store and try to make the shopping experience as comfortable and fun as possible.
Currently, residing in Camden Lock Market, we’ve teamed our vintage-inspired clothes with pop-up pals Ma Maison and The Style Standard to create a one-off boutique.
WAPU: How did you get into this pop up venture?
AH: Pop-up opportunities, in every sense of the word, do, and quite quickly, ‘pop up’ and you have to be hot on the heels of the people offering the opportunities and supporting the brands as they are the gatekeepers. We worked hard to identify the best organisations to work with and do our best to be tapped into the network and put ourselves out there as much as possible. Pop-ups are a great means of getting your business known – so to identify those opportunities you have to do exactly that yourself – pop up and get noticed!
Our pop-up CV is a steadily growing document and we’re very proud of who we’re affiliated with and what we’ve done. We shout about it at every opportunity!
WAPU: How does the pop up idea work for your company? (E.g. does it enable you to trial new products, new spaces before committing.)
AH: The pop-up model is perfect for teastained Lil as we’re able to penetrate new areas and expand our customer reach without committing to one location. It also gives us the opportunity to lift the cyber veil and speak to our customers, hear their wardrobe woes, listen to their views and learn what makes them tick.
WAPU: How has We Are Pop Up helped you find space for your pop up?
AH: We were very lucky to have been selected as a finalist in the We Are Pop Up Boxpark competition and have since received generous words of wisdom, support and access to a great online tool to profile our pop-up credentials.
WAPU: What has been the biggest challenge in creating your pop up, and making it a success?
AH: As a pop-up, you have to work hard to gain customer’s trust and very quickly establish a customer base – pop-ups, by their very nature, can be perceived as short-lived and don’t carry the same brand recognition as high street beasts. As you’re only given the space for a short term, it’s important to work as hard as possible on a fast set-up and a creative and effective use of space – often there’s no time or acceptance of significant shop design or fitting, so it’s good to have a plethora of ideas on how to put together a great looking shop in a short space of time.
WAPU: What has been a personal highlight when putting together your pop up?
AH: teastained Lil is at its best when it’s seen, heard and experienced. Nothing gives greater pleasure than meeting customers, solving style woes and presenting them with a personal, fun and inspired shopping experience; the antithesis of generic, high street shopping.
WAPU: Last question – what advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting a pop up project?
AH: To get a pop-up, you need to ‘pop up’ as much as possible – talk to people, put yourself out there, get as networked as possible and be sure to scream about every pop-up feat – big or small. The more experience you gain and support you garner, the more attractive you will be to landlords.
Keep it fresh and fun. Pop-ups have the power to change the way we shop and should, therefore, be providing inspired and interesting alternatives to the failing high street.
Go visit teastained Lil in Camden!
Many thanks to Alexandra Heywood for answering our questions, and to Lucy Neech for curating the interview