LPA: Tell me a little about your background. Where did you grow up, study etc…
SS: I was born in London and it has been home ever since. I studied French & Classics at Kings College London but have always been surrounded by fashion growing up.
LPA: Did you always know you wanted to be a designer? Or was there a specific moment or experience that made you realise that was what you wanted to do?
SS: Fashion has always played a large part in my life as my family has been in the industry for over thirty years. Growing up I had always dreamed of being a designer but my parents had swayed me to pursue a more traditional profession but after graduating I was presented with a great opportunity and that was the turning point for me.
LPA: Setting up your own company is a pretty brave move. Why did you decide to launch Black and Brown London rather than looking for a position at an established brand?
SS: It is daunting but with commitment, determination and a great support system, anything is possible. Originally when my mother set up the company, the business was mainly private label based. Back in 2002, I developed our brand Black & Brown London due to a lack of good quality trend-led belts in the market at the time. It never really crossed my mind to work for another brand; I love the creative freedom that being your own boss allows.
LPA: You originally ran Black and Brown London in collaboration with your mother, Nina. You’re now also working alongside your sister, Nimi. In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of working with family? I can imagine it’s not always easy…
SS: It can be challenging at times! However their advice & support is indispensible. I wouldn’t have it any other way as I wouldn’t be where I am now without the help of my Mum and Sister.
LPA: What has been the most challenging thing about running your own company?
SS: For me, I think the hardest part is to know when to switch off. When you run your own company, it is solely your responsibility 24/7. Sometimes I find myself working over the weekends or long into the early hours. I am trying to work on it!
LPA: Talk me through a typical day as Co-Founder and Creative Designer of Black and Brown London…
SS: The morning is usually spent going through emails and admin work. Then I will head into the workshop; either we are working on new designs, production orders or even labeling and packing – I am very hands on! In between there are more emails and phone calls but I will finish the day back on the laptop finalising linesheets and lookbooks as we are constantly updating our three collections – Women’s, Men’s and Children’s accessories.
LPA: How do you feel Black and Brown London sets itself apart from all the other luxury accessories brands out there?
SS: I am really proud of the fact that all our accessories are hand made in the UK and that they are not mass produced creating a sense of exclusivity to our wearer. We also use the best quality leathers and embellishment in the form of Swarovski crystals and semi precious stones in our designs.
LPA: Who, dead or alive, would you most like to see wearing your designs?
SS: Carine Roitfeld, she has impeccable taste. I love Parisian style; when I studied in Paris I was bowled over by the fashion sensibility of Parisian women – such effortless chic.
LPA: Who’s your all time favourite designer?
SS: There are so many fantastic designers out there! Right now, I love to use of bold digital prints, Mary Katrantzou does it beautifully.
LPA: Less is more or pile it on… What do you think is the key to accessorizing successfully?
SS: I generally like to pile it on! Ultimately, the key is to have confidence, with that you can pull off any look.
LPA: What’s your ultimate aim for Black and Brown London?
SS: To continue with the same dedication and passion to create unique designs and to be a recognised brand globally, synonymous with quality & style.
Black and Brown London is currently stocked at Harrods (among others!) shop the collection here.
Love Ella. X