Four female entrepreneurs to get ‘Start Up with Seven Dials’ pop-up retail opportunity
Coinciding with International Women’s Day today, London landlord Shaftesbury has officially announced that four up-and-coming female-led brands will be awarded individual pop-up retail space this summer as part of its ‘Start Up with Seven Dials’ incubator initiative.
Caribbean influenced lifestyle brand Tihara Smith has been named as the official winner of the competition, selected by a judging panel of experts out of 30 entrants. Smith’s vibrant and cheery accessories, stationery, prints and gifts will be a welcome addition to the Seven Dials retail mix, especially post-lockdown.
As the winner, Smith will get the most prominent retail space and Shaftesbury’s full support, including a complete store fit-out and assignment of a personal brand mentor.
Reflecting the high quality of competition entrants, Shaftesbury made the decision to also offer the three runners-ups individual ‘blank canvas’ retail space and full operational support in Seven Dials this summer. They are Billi London, which makes the world’s first biodegradable tights, eco-friendly yoga brand KATI KAIA and curated homewares brand Olive Jennings.
As a graduate of the University for the Creative Arts Epsom, Tihara Smith launched her eponymous label after exhibiting her original Windrush-inspired collection at Graduate Fashion Week 2018. She draws her inspiration from her Caribbean heritage and London roots, and her distinctive products are complemented by a customised, made-to-order service.
The competition was developed by Seven Dials to celebrate and support budding UK brands that either launched or developed their business in the face of Covid-19, by offering the opportunity to operate from the iconic West End retail destination in summer 2021.
The panel of experts was made up of Retail Director at Shaftesbury, Samantha Bain-Mollison, Shopping Editor at the Daily Telegraph, Krissy Turner, and Contributing Editor at TheIndustry.fashion & Retail Consultant, Tom Bottomley.
Samantha Bain-Mollison, commented: “Our retail strategy at Seven Dials has always nurtured emerging independent brands, however, with so many businesses responding to adversity with enterprise since the Covid crisis, we wanted to create an additional platform to support. The ‘Start Up with Seven Dials’ initiative is great as it is a two-way street, and the destination is also set to benefit greatly in welcoming these fresh and well-considered concepts to the diverse retail community.
“In line with the International Women’s Day 2021 campaign theme of #ChooseToChallenge, this initiative from Seven Dials is a great platform for us to celebrate women’s achievements and is sure to propel each of the four brands to new heights.”
Tom Bottomley added: “Through involvement in the ‘Start Up with Seven Dials’ judging panel, it has been a pleasure to discover innovative and thoughtful new female-led brands which have found opportunities, rather than setbacks, throughout the pandemic. The quantity and calibre of entries received has also highlighted that, despite successful online sales performance, brands still consider physical retail as crucial to their establishment and growth.”
Launching over the summer months, with dates as yet to be confirmed, the four selected brands will sit alongside a host of independents in Seven Dials, and brand flagships such as Farah, Coco De Mer and Tatty Devine.