How does it feel that ALC is turning 7 years old?
Sometimes when you run your own business you can be consumed or overwhelmed by the huge amount of work it takes to run it, and the birthday is a great time to stop and think about what you have achieved. It makes me think back to that first day I opened the door to customers, and how exciting, scary and surreal it was. Reflecting on that moment makes me feel so proud, and incredibly thankful for all the support the shop has had over the years from family, friends and customers. I remember my mum, sister and friends helping out with shifts so that I could have a holiday or go on a work trip, and it makes me smile to think of how far we have all come.
What are some of your favourite memories of your time working in the store?
This has to be having fun with my customers. I remember meeting a lot of people for the first time, and what that experience was like for me. So many of those moments are still very clear in my mind, even though some customers have been coming since the shop opened! So many of my customers share their personal stories in the shop, and I share mine, and I will always have the best memories of getting to know them on a level I didn't realise would be possible in a business of this kind.
What have been your biggest accomplishments with ALC?
I remember when Laura came to work for me and I was so happy that I could afford a member of staff. She was quite shy but over the years developed her own relationships with customers, and became the resident window dresser/prop designer! Being able to have a team member really meant something to me and she is still very much an ALC family member. Apart from that it would have to be all the wonderful people that walk through our door, having heard about it through friends or reading reviews. They really have to take the credit for the business still being here. The challenge for me is to predict what they are going to want to wear usually six months in advance of them being able to wear it, so I guess that's an accomplishment in itself.
How has your personal style changed over the years?
I'm not sure it has! I've always loved clothes and could never quite pinpoint a personal style. I'm not sure how others would describe my style either, but I'd never change for anyone. I tend to dress in a variety of ways that suit my mood. If I'm not 'feeling' an item on a particular day then I won't wear it. Obviously I love denim for the versatility, and probably wear jeans 99% of the time. At the moment I'm loving cropped styles in a straight or boot cut fit. I love clothing that has a story or a personality. Recently I've developed more of a fondness of pink, green, yellow and print, and you'll see that reflected across this season and next. I like to step out of my comfort zone more and take a few risks.
Why did you start up ALC?
This is a long story, but I'll give you the short version! ALC set out to help women find their perfect fitting pair of jeans. I wanted to create a shop where the product was curated to suit a variety of body shapes, styles and budgets, and the staff had the knowledge to fit a customer into a pair (or pairs!) of jeans that made them feel and look amazing without the need to try on half the shop. Edinburgh was crying out for an independent shop with a very personal and friendly service mixed with this kind of expertise, and 7 years on we still love the challenges our customers set for us! One of my favourites was when a lady had 5 minutes left on her meter and wanted me to find jeans to suit her before she got a ticket. Luckily we did it! On a personal level I just wanted to turn a passion into something that could hopefully provide a living, and am so humbled by what this little dream has become.
What are your future plans for the store?
The shop is always evolving but the main plan would be to give it a much needed makeover. Perhaps it is the 7 year itch, or the sound of another floorboard cracking underfoot, but I'd like to mix things up a little style wise in store. One big desire of ours is to become more sustainable. No longer a trend, sustainable collections are now crucial to our business, and I'm extremely pleased to see our brands getting on board with this and developing each season with this in mind. Most of our denim will be sustainable for future seasons to come. We have some new brands coming in and new directions for style, but at the heart we are still very much focussed on being the go-to for denim in the city.