10 Questions With….Mairi McDonald

1/ Tell us about your label

Mairi McDonald is luxury womenswear with a free-spirited feel and a rebellious edge. It’s an exploration of the unconventional dark beauty within key textiles, dishevelled for a rock ‘n’ roll edge with a high standard of craftsmanship. The effortless glamour of the Mairi McDonald label allows the wearer the freedom not to conform.

2/ Why did you become an independent fashion designer?

I wanted to step away from designing for other companies and channel all my energy and thoughts into developing my own aesthetic and signature. The ultimate achievement for me as a designer was to develop and launch my own label. Even with the huge risks involved I’ve trusted my instinct that I’m following the right path with this venture. I want to create luxury ‘forever’ pieces for my customers wardrobe combining beautiful fabrics, edgy textiles and intricate detail.

Mairi McDonald
Image: Designer Mairi McDonald

3/ How have your Scottish roots influenced your designs and where do you find inspiration?

Having such a strong focus on textiles and working with homegrown lace manufacturer MYB Textiles is a perfect fit and it’s great to refer to a piece as a ‘Scottish lace dress’. I’m continually inspired by iconic women in and around the music scene. The debut collection entitled ‘Electric Eclectic’ was inspired by the girlfriends of the Rolling Stones in the Sixties, Marianne Faithful and Anita Pallenberg. Kate Moss, Sky Ferreira, Alison Mosshart and Daisy Lowe are also perfect present day muses for this collection. I’m passionate about vintage fashion and creating an eclectic look by mixing influences from Victorian silhouettes and detailing with 60’s and 70’s bohemian styling. I’ve spent time trawling vintage markets in Paris and London for inspiration and this is still a starting point for my research today.

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Image: Scottish ecru cotton lace and silk mix dress with crochet lace trim

4/ How would you define the Scottish fashion scene and who do you admire within the industry?

There is a growing Scottish fashion scene with an eclectic mix of established and emerging new labels. Events such as the Scottish Fashion Awards and platforms like Scotland Redesigned are hugely beneficial in terms of exposure as a new designer. This is an extremely tough industry and I have admiration for all the designers that evolve their labels seasonally and have earned their success through hard work and determination.

5/ You recently entered Stylist Magazine’s competition to become ‘Britain’s Next Maker’ which boasts a prize fund of £10,000 for your creative business. How would you spend this money if you won?

The prize fund would be completely invaluable at this stage of my business. I’ve achieved so much in a short space of time but the harsh reality is money is essential to enable me to keep pursuing my ambition and developing my label.

6/ The competition involves a public vote. Why should people feel compelled to vote for you?

I’m truly committed to fulfilling my creative vision with my luxury label, continuing to invest 110% to grow and evolve my brand into a sustainable business whilst establishing my own distinctive signature. I want to expand the brand nationally and internationally and continue to build and develop my skills in business by taking a beautiful product and creating a desirable, successful Scottish brand.

mairi-mcdonald

Image: Black lamb nappa, suede and silk jacket with lamb nappa tailored shorts

7/ You’ve both studied and worked in London. What career opportunities are fashion designers given in London that you’d like to see being offered in Scotland?

Studying at London College of Fashion allowed me to access the centre of Britain’s fashion industry, from having lecturers who were also designers or art directors for high profile magazines. I felt privileged to be there and treated college as on the job training. Luxury brands need to offer internships for students and jobs for graduates to allow us to feed into our own economy and capitalise on Scottish talent.

8/ You currently teach and mentor up-and-coming fashion students. If you were in charge what initiatives would you put in place to support Scottish graduates after the conclusion of their course?

There should be more funding available for fashion businesses as fashion doesn’t always fit neatly into arts or innovation funding categories which can be very frustrating. The Scottish Textiles industry is on a global high so now is the time to invest in emerging design talent with an emphasis on sustainability and exporting.

9/ What has been the biggest challenge of your career to date and how did you deal with it?

Making the transition from Senior Designer for a large label to creating my own label has been a huge test of confidence, skill and ability. To be proud of a collection that is completely designed to ‘my’ brief and not a ‘given’ brief has been so liberating.

10/ What plans do you have for your label moving into 2014?

I’m currently taking my debut collection ‘Electric Eclectic’ to market with lots of interest around this collection. My main priority over the next few months is establishing my signature in the public domain and having a look and style that is recognisably ‘Mairi McDonald’.

To vote for Mairi to win Stylist Magazine’s ‘Britain’s Next Top Maker’ competition click the link and look for the Mairi McDonald profile on the main page http://www.stylist.co.uk/home/microsite2/triumph/?page=competition

Find out more about Mairi McDonald on her website www.mairimcdonald.com

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10 Questions With….Mohna Linton from The Chic Boutique

Mohna Linton The Chic Boutique

1/ Tell us about your career journey to date.

I graduated with a Masters last year and whilst at university I was gaining invaluable work experience interning for Harvey Nichols, The Scottish Fashion Awards and Good Housekeeping magazine. Working within these established businesses has given me skills and insights that will help to make my business a success.

2/ You recently lauched an online clothes shop. What makes The Chic Boutique different from other online retailers?

The Chic Boutique sells brands that are not currently stocked in the UK or Europe. To stay ahead of competitors I plan to source brands which are new in the UK or just emerging because I like to support new businesses.

3/ How has your business education helped in the launch of your website and what have been your main challenges?

My business education taught me the fundamentals of how a business should operate. I undertook a large research study on ecommerce and luxury branding which definitely helped me understand the industry and what consumers are expecting when they shop online. The main challenge has been finding new and unusual brands which are exclusive therefore I am always keen to make contact with new designers.

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10 Questions With….Scottish Fashion Designer Carolyn Baxter

Carolyn Baxter

1/ Tell everyone what you do.
I’m a dress designer and Boutique owner based in Edinburgh. I’m also a Stylehaul partner with Youtube.

2/How and why did you make the transition from designer to boutique owner?
It was a natural progression. After two years of working from a small one bedroom flat. Storing patterns in my kitchen cupboard and climbing over dresses to get to my bed. I decided it was time to have my own studio space. I started looking at studios and realised a shop would be just as practical. A hub for the dresses to be designed and manufactured along with a little showroom shop front.

3/Tell us about your biggest challenges from initial launch to present day.
Money is the obvious hurdle with many designers. I did not want to borrow or bring in an investor so had to work from what I had. My Mum and Gran gave me £1000 to start and off I went. The good thing about the made to measure approach I made each order as I went along which means no big investments or risks. Personally the biggest hurdle was not having my Dad alive to ask business questions and advise. He was an amazing business man who passed away when I was 21. There are many times I have wanted his opinion but had no one to ask.

4/How does your shop cater for women of different sizes and shapes?
We offer made to measure in the store along with fittings which means we shape the dress around your body.

5/Talk us through the layout and feel of the shop. Why is it unique?
When I started looking at shops I know I wanted a interactive studio which shows the dresses taking shape from the front of the shop. However I realised that putting a big glass panel between the studio and the shop would cost a bomb so we have an open studio which you can peer in through the door and see what’s going on. This does mean we have to keep it cleaner than usual though!

6/What are your likes and dislikes of the job?
I love designing new dresses and seeing them being worn by some very inspirational ladies such as Katie Piper. Also when a customer comes to collect their dress beaming with happiness after they try it on. The down side is that there is SO much responsibility on your shoulders. If i’m ill or have to work until 1am I HAVE too, there is no one else to lean on. I also struggle to give the control to other people. Although I have seamstresses I still find it hard handing dresses over to someone else to make them.

7/What do you feel Scottish fashion designers need to succeed?
The internet and some unbelieveable passion and desire for success. The internet and social media has done wonders for my business. My dresses have been shipped to America and Europe due to my Youtube channel reaching global audiences.

8/Tell us about your biggest fashion disaster and how it shaped your personal style.
I went through a Goth stage at 15. I used to wear black constantly and hated wearing dresses or skirts. I guess I was a girly girl at heart but hiding. On my prom I wore a black full length dress and from there I realised it wasn’t so bad.

9/What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Being tied to the shop now and not being able to just pop to the post office or go a walk for a break. I also get really frustrated when celebrities and stylists request a dress or two and you spend the whole night making them for them not to be worn. That is hard to take sometimes!

10/Share something most people don’t know about you.
I can moonwalk! Also I take my business mind from my father who had me out selling caravans and helping him at the markets when I was 9 years old. I learned a lot from him growing up and have taken his fighting desire for success into adulthood and my business.

To find out more about Carolyn visit her ‘One Stop Glamour Shop’ here.

10 Questions With….Cally Russell from Mallzee

Cally Russell Mallzee

1. Tell everyone what you do.

I run Mallzee.com which is a new way to shop online. We allow you to only see clothes that suit you from your favourite stores. We like to think of it as bespoke shopping. You take a short style quiz, pick your favourite stores to add to your Mallzee account then only see the clothes that suit you from them. To create a great experience we also let you shop with your friends via live chat, interactive polling and browsing together.

2. What prompted you to launch a style website and why ‘Mallzee’?

I think the Internet has changed the way people do a lot of things over the last couple of years but the way we shop online hasn’t really evolved. It’s a massively growing industry but apart from daily deals its not really changed since the early 2000s. I’ve always been blown away by the choice online. Mallzee searches over 750,000 clothes to only show you what suits you – that saves a lot of time.

3. How does Mallzee differ from other online retailers?

We’re a one stop shop. We bring together over 200 stores in one place but only show you what suits you. Our system is totally personal as well so you won’t get the same recommendations as your friends like some other sites.

4. What advice do you give shoppers that struggle to find clothes online?

We’re working on tools to help with finding the right fit online. As a starting basis we look at the shape of clothes to really help find items that suit you.

Mallzee

5. What’s the biggest challenge facing fashion entrepreneurs in Scotland?

That initial early traction, it’s vital to be taken seriously and is harder when you’re in a small country but I think we’ve proved that it can be done.

6. What was the latest thing that inspired you?

I love reading blogs so get inspired by others on nearly a daily basis. The most recent was the quote on the wall at Facebook ‘Get Shit Done’ I think it’s a great mantra and one more people should embrace.

7. Tell us about your biggest fashion disaster and how it shaped your personal style.

It’s not really a fashion disaster but I once messed up with a bottle of hair dye and ended up with jet black hair. I like to think of it as my goth phase!

8. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Bad train manners. I commuted to Glasgow from Edinburgh for a year when setting up Mallzee and I used to hate people who didn’t know how to behave on trains.

9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

‘Don’t let others tell you what you can’t do’ It’s so true and I would much rather fail trying than regret not.

10. Share something most people don’t know about you.

I’m terrified of snakes. I mean absolutely terrified. I can’t even see them on TV without freaking out.

To find out more about Mallzee visit www.mallzee.com or check out Mallzee on Facebook and Twitter.

10 Questions With….Holly Baxter and Matthias McGregor from Hardwear

Hardwear

1. Tell everyone what you do.

Our clothing brand Hardwear started as a combination of reaction and research. We were sick of the laziness of the high street, the tired & unethical business model of importing a thousand white t-shirts from a sweatshop abroad and digitally printing a rectangle on the front. Leafing through source books of Japanese designs we noted the opportunities that opened up if you screenprinted by hand onto rolls of fabric. This developed into the idea of creating something that was designed, printed, made & embroidered locally and from there we built a concept, that Hardwear would be MADE IN WILD WEST GLASGOW.

2. What made you want to design clothes?

We hope our brand will grow to be part of the resurgence of sweatshop-free clothing and we’re looking to collaborate with other Scottish designers and suppliers. Internationally we’re pusing the ‘Made In Scotland’ credential as a key differentiator and are joining in group initiatives with otherlike-minded local companies.

3. How does your collection fit in with Glasgow style?

We were watching the film ’24 Hour Party People’ where Tony Wilson is planning to start his club night. He says ‘I just saw a sign on the wall that said Factory Closing and l thought we can have one called Factory Opening’. We see Hardwear entering a similar landscape. With half of the high street boarded up we wanted to fill it with something new. Our clothes are basics. Our maxi dresses could be worn to the park with trainers and a tote bag or they can be dressed up with jewellery and heels. We want to give people the option.

4. What has happened recently that made you smile?

Our favourite thing so far has been all the surprising opportunities and unexpected connections we’re making. A lady came into our pop-up shop last week and ordered a maxi-dress made-to-measure.When she came to collect it we got talking and she mentioned she is a yoga instructor and asked if we would consider making printed yogo pants for her students.

5. What’s the most pressing challenge facing new Scottish designers?

It feels like Scotland is being tested this decade and finding out what it has to offer internationally beyond a photo of a movie star in a kilt once a year. Glasgow’s own aquacrunk-hiphopper Rustie foresaw this in his 2008 music video for Cafe De Phresh. We really admire brands that are taking a legacy of craftsmanship and using it in unexpected ways like Harris Tweed Hebrides teaming up with Converse Japan to release Harris Tweed Converse All Stars.

6. Which designer do you most admire?

Sruli Recht is a real character who not only designs beautiful clothes but also works for the joy of it. He saw some sharks on the back of a fisherman’s truck and followed him home so that he could buy a sharkskin and take it to a tannery. It turns out you can’t make clothes from sharkskin as it is covered in tiny spikes but that didn’t stop him. He made unsellable gloves from the sharkskin just for the fun of it. If anyone actually were to put one on thousands of tiny spikes would pierce their skin and they wouldn’t be able to get it off again.

7. Tell us about your biggest fashion disaster and how it shaped your personal style.

Matthias hates my jelly shoes. He says they look like see through Croc’s but he’s wrong they’re glittery and cool.

8.What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Walking up Buchanan Street behind a girl who thinks her leggings are trousers.

9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

10. Share something most people don’t know about you.

Matthias was a child chess champion and Holly left her heart in a motorbike in South Korea.

10 Questions With….Leah Hibbert from Elite Model Management London

leah hibbert

Hi Leah. Tell us why you’re visiting Scotland.

I’m in Glasgow scouting for the Elite Model Look competition. It’s a huge opportunity for young girls and guys to pursue their dream of becoming top fashion models. Finalists in the UK will have the chance to win a three year contract with Elite Model Management in London. We’re really excited about the 6 semi-finalists we’ve found in Scotland. Our winner last year, Gillian Matthew, is Scottish so we knew we’d find some great potential up here. In the past this competition launched the careers of Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, Helena Christensen and Gisele Bundchen so it’s a huge thing to be involved in.

What does your daily routine involve as a model scout?

My routine is different every day. I scout everywhere from train stations and airports to shopping malls and the London Underground. Every weekend I book a train and go outside of London to do some scouting. It’s rare to find anyone by the age of 16 that hasn’t been scouted in London so I try to get out of the city as much as possible and visit small towns. I’m at concerts, gigs and festivals throughout the summer and during term time we work with schools and colleges to scout students there.

Is it hard to switch off when you’re not working?

It’s definitely a full-on job. Even if you’re not officially working you’re always looking for people. You can be in the cinema trying to relax or having a romantic meal and if someone catches your eye you just have to run after them. You never know when you’re going to find someone.

Tell us about your scouting success stories.

The last guy I scouted was in Brighton. He was playing basketball with his friends and I had to call time out on the game so I could talk to him. That was 2 weeks ago and now he’s flying off to walk exclusively in the Prada show in Milan. One night I was at a bus stop on Oxford Street at 2am and scouted Duncan Pyke. He’s had two magazine covers, a couple of Topman campaigns and Models.com have picked him as ‘one to watch’ this week.

How did you become a model scout?

I worked as a model for about 7 years so that was great training ground for me. I’m naturally an open person and as a model you’re meeting new people every single day so I think scouting came quite naturally. It’s a buzz to be able to change the direction of someone’s life for the better. I dipped into fashion styling and show production then worked as a booker for another agency. I was at Glastonbury with a friend who was also a booker and she told me to scout a girl at the festival. Since then the agency have said I have an eye for it and I know exactly what Elite are looking for.

What characteristics do you look for in a potential model?

The main thing is height. The girls have to be over 5’8 and the guys should ideally be at least 5’11. Occasionally you’ll find shorter girls who are around 5’7 or 5’8 and have an extraordinary face. The industry will make an exception for girls that have something really special about them. Classic good looks and a symmetrical face are important. There’s lot of girls and boys who look fantastic in person but models have to be photogenic. Great skin is key as photographers don’t want to spend a long time retouching. Guys should have a lean physique and good proportions.

Do you necessarily have to be skinny to model? 

It’s a myth that you have to be very skinny to model. The clients look for athletic healthy looking girls that are a dress size 8 or 10. If the girls are too thin they don’t make the clothes look good and the industry is waking up to that. I think that a ‘Victoria’s Secret’ body is ideal because it looks healthy. It’s not just about a models measurements but about their overall look, skin condition and exercise routine.

Once signing with the agency how do you help the models’ career to progress?

We invite new models into the agency and have a look at their overall appearance. Sometimes we send them for a mini makeover like a change to their hair colour and we enrol them in the gym. When they are ready we take Polaroids and introduce them to the industry by sending them out to meet our clients. We do a lot of editorial work for big London magazines like ID, Dazed and Confused and Hunger. Once they’ve built up their portfolio we like to introduce them into London Fashion Week to walk in some of the shows.

How do you reject wannabe models without crushing their dreams?

It’s really important to handle this in a delicate way. Young girls are obsessed with aesthetic and image and you don’t want to dent their confidence. If they’re not right for Elite I let them down gently and make sure they’re with a parent. Beauty is objective and just because they’re not right for Elite doesn’t mean they won’t sign elsewhere. Look at Cindy Crawford. She was turned away from several agencies because she had a mole on her face.

What’s your biggest pet peeve about the fashion industry?

I get annoyed when people try and climb the ladder on social networking sites. Everyone feels the need to broadcast how great they are online. It’s awful and it’s not the real world. People need to spend more time working hard instead of bigging themselves up. The people who don’t shout about themselves are the ones doing well. They’re the ones at home doing research and mood boards for a shoot the next day rather than getting drunk at fashion parties. It’s often the quiet ones that are the most successful.

10 Questions With….Joanne McGillivray

Joanne Mcgillivray wearing her own label with Model (Right) wearing her winning design _4

1/ Tell everyone what you do.

I am a fashion designer and own my brand called Joanne McGillivray. 

2/ Take us through the steps involved in creating your new collection and what makes it special.

I will normally start with a theme. Something that I find interesting or has caught my eye. I then collect loads of images related to that theme and basically filter it down to find out what exactly it is I like about those particular images. It can be a lengthy process but worth it as I understand the collection more. 

3/ What sort of woman would you like to see wearing your latest designs?

Women who are classic, feminine and stylish. I don’t like labelling my brand with an age limit. If you feel great in my clothes then I’ve done myjob! 

4/ Where or from whom did you find inspiration for autumn/winter 2013?

My new collection is called The Russian Revolution. The inspiration was taken from a recent trip to St Petersburg, Russia. I loved the city and the details in all the buildings. When I came home I couldn’t wait to start the design process.  (A piece from Joanne’s new collection is pictured below).

Joanne McGillivray

5/ What specific challenges do designers face in Scotland and what forms of assistance are most needed?

I don’t think designers in Scotland face any specific challenges differently to designers anywhere else. It is tough to make yourself known within the industry as a new designer. One thing I would say is Scotland needs to more forward thinking about manufacturing and fabric. 

Tell us about a time when you were surprised by an unexpected personal success.

Has to be winning the 2012 Graduate of the Year at last years Scottish Fashion Awards. The standard in the category was so high it genuinely was a shock when they announced my name. (Soon after graduating from Heriot-Watt University in 2012 Joanne won Graduate of the Year from the Scottish Fashion Awards.  As a result, Joanne worked with Marks & Spencers to put her winning garment design into production. The dress she designed is pictured below and is now available in stores).

Model wearing Joanne Mcgillivray M&S dress_1

7/ Tell us about your biggest fashion disaster and how it shaped your personal style.

There isn’t really one particular fashion disaster. I think from about the age of 13-17 was all pretty much a fashion disaster. It did take me a while  to fall into the style I have developed now. 

8/ What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Long evening dresses what don’t touch the ground! Every women should try their heels on with the dress before buying. 

9/ What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Dress for yourself, not for anyone else. 

10/ Share something most people don’t know about you.

I actually started my degree in Textiles then moved over to fashion in 3rdyear. Thanks goodness I did!

10 Questions With….Emma Kerr from Elkbi

web Jumper and Skirt

1/ Tell everyone what you do.

As two recent graduates from Grays School of Art, Robert Gordon University, we set up Elkbi. Elkbi is a Scottish fashion label with a focus on locally and ethically produced and locally inspired fashion that is  hand screen printed and hand dyed. Elkbi was created to stand up against the swash of plain high street fashion garments. We stand for individuality and the art of producing one of a kind or limited run clothing editions.

2/ What prompted you to design clothes and why ‘Elkbi’?

We see creating clothing as an extension of producing art. We are living our dreams through our passion for exciting fashion prints. ‘Elkbi’ is an amalgamation of our owners names, ELK coming from Co-Owner Emma’s initials and BI a shortened version of Bison which exists in the surname of the other co-owner Michael Harbison (both pictured below). Also elks and bisons were two powerful animals that lived during the ice age in Scotland. This unique name goes well with our brand ethos of bringing something new to the market.

Elkbi

3/ Talk us through your first collection and share your future plans?

Our first collection was our humble beginning, testing the waters with what we like in fashion and seeing if others liked our take on the market. Thankfully it’s gone down better than anticipated so it’s all go for the future.  Our first collection launched in Spring of this year with featuring hand illustrated Scottish nature, flora and fauna. Moving on from this we have created a set of designs which are due to launch on the 8th June. These designs are a lot more elaborate and graphic with a strong emphasis on trends and a striking monochrome series for summer.

4/ What are the best and worst things about working as a duo?

Best: Two minds are better than one, especially two creative ones. Worst: Narrowing down the huge wealth of good ideas a team can create and running with the best ones.

5/ What’s the most pressing challenge facing new Scottish designers?

Besides the obvious economic downturn in the UK as a whole the availability of assistance and start up help, particularly in more rural spots such as ours in Dumfries & Galloway, is a huge difficulty. We have been lucky to find a few helpful hands but it has been a fight to get out there and known.

6/ Which designer do you most admire and what would you ask them over dinner?

Vivienne Westwood. She has become an icon and a true fashion innovator by keeping Scottish fashion alive. She proactively uses traditional Scottish textiles and combined with her unique eye and passion she creates something very memorable. If we had the chance to talk we would love to ask her what makes her so passionate about fashion and at what point in her career did she finally realise she had ‘made it’.

7/ Tell us about your biggest fashion disaster and how it shaped your personal style?

I’m a bit of a walking clothes hanger and am often found wearing too much charity shop vintage at once. I think my friends will definitely agree with this. I think it is important to stick to your own style though. I Iike to adapt trends to my own style, collate and combine my own pieces. Fashion is such a personal thing.

8/ What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People who jump on our success. We have been approached by many people who would like to use our hard work for their own gain. We really appreciate what we have because we have worked hard to get here. We believe people should use their own initiative not ours – “A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.” – Banksy

9/ What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Our friends and family have been amazing, and have really supported us. We can’t thank them enough for this and we certainly wouldn’t of made it this far without them. “Life is what you make it, be different.” 

10/ Share something most people don’t know about you?

Even though we met at university most people don’t know that we grew up only 5 miles apart. However it took 200 miles to Aberdeen for us to actually find each other and cross paths again.

For more information about Elkbi visit www.elkbi.com,  www.facebook.com/elkbi  or email info@elkbi.com

10 Questions With….Sarah Connelly from Odyssey Boutique

Sarah_Odyssey_Boutique-16

1/ Tell everyone what you do.

I’m the Owner/Director/Head Lingerie Lover at Odyssey Boutique, Edinburgh’s only lingerie, swimwear and beauty boutique.

2/ What prompted you to open a shop and why ‘Odyssey’?

I’d always adored lingerie & swimwear and wanted my own place to represent the brands I love in a contemporary and fun environment. Adding the beauty treatments aspect was all part of the plan too. If you’re buying a gorgeous new lingerie set or headed to the beach you want to look and feel perfect  so I set about sourcing the best products to give the best possible finish on all levels. An Odyssey is a journey so wherever you’re headed we can help with the preparations.

3/ How does your shop fit in with Edinburgh style?

Being in the West End with its cobbled, off the beaten track streets feels as far flung from Edinburgh as it gets. A lot of the lingerie and  swimwear brands I house are exclusive to Odyssey in Scotland and together with the in-house beauty rooms I’m doing something that Edinburgh or Scotland hasn’t seen before. A lot of clients compare the boutique to something they’d find in Chelsea, London.

4/ How do you help women who have negative views about their figure?

Every woman I meet says something negative about her body when we first meet. I just don’t see those flaws. I guess you could say my eye is naturally drawn to a bad bra (does that sound weird?), so I can help someone feel comfortable physically by having them try on a style that properly fits and flatters. Once I’ve done that I can see the client look her reflection in the eye . That’s when I know she’s feeling more confident and I’ve done my job well.

5/ What are your likes and dislikes of the job?

I love everything about my job. Running a business is certainly not easy and takes an insane amount of energy but I wouldn’t swap it for anything. I don’t dislike anything except maybe not having enough hours in the day.

6/ Do you plan to expand the business and how would you retain an independent boutique service across additional stores?

I think having one boutique is enough for the moment if I were to expand it would be with bigger premises and wider product range before taking on a second site. Jeez – when would I sleep!

7/ Tell us about your biggest fashion disaster and how it shaped your personal style.

There have been so many. As the eldest of two daughters I’m the one my parents experimented on so I’m going to lay all my fashion disasters on them and thank my lucky stars I discovered fashion magazines when I did. Crisis averted!

8/ What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Bad manners really get to me. Not saying please and thank you, excuse me etc. It takes a second to show some grace and makes the world of difference to someone’s day.

9/ What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

When I opened the business in 2010 I was overwhelmed and having a melt-down one day. The person I was crumbling in front of said “don’t look down.” Immediately I felt a shift in my focus. I was dwelling on the stresses and staring into the abyss. When they said those words I started to look forward, focusing on what I wanted to achieve and learning to jump over the hurdles…or skirt around them…rather than stopping dead at each one. Now, whenever I come across something difficult I just keep powering on. The only thing that can get in my way is me.

10/ Share something most people don’t know about you.

I did ‘a Catch’ at Trapeze School in New York. See, really I knew not to look down before I was even told.

Visit Odyssey Boutique at 39-41 William Street, Edinburgh, EH3 7LW