Alexandra Armata: Can you take me through what you do on a day to day basis? And in which stage of the collection are you at?
EMMA CHOPOVA: We are just about to start production and getting all of our orders in. So we are at the production stage. I’m thinking about the next season too.
AA: Oh, yeah. Have you started designing for the next season?
EC: No, no!
Laura Lowena: We’ve been looking at fabrics.
AA: I remember there was one season when I was here at the studio, the show hadn’t even finished and you guys were already sure about where the next season was going to go…
EC: But that’s only because we had nothing to do. Right now, we’re producing hundreds of pieces, across over hundred styles which we’re producing almost all ourselves. There are lots of bits: gloves, socks, bags, so many skirts, necklaces. It takes a month just to get them all to the stores and under control. Ordering all the different things, all the different little bits. We use 500 kinds of charms and snaps and that takes a really long time.
LL: I had to source nearly 500 tea towels this season for one skirt style!
“You need someone that’s always on top of the numbers otherwise the business doesn’t function.” – Laura Lowena
AA: Who comprises your team? Including the people that you employ in Bulgaria.
EC: Our team is me and Laura. Laura’s Mum, who does our accounting. Laura’s sister who works for us part-time to help Laura’s mom with the bookkeeping. She will hopefully take a bigger role and overtake Laura’s mum’s job, we couldn’t live without her. We also employ Vanya in Bulgaria, who handles our textile development and is sort of our production manager. My mom, who does sourcing for fabrics on a seasonal basis. Daniella, who’s in charge of the atelier, does the distribution of the garments to the makers and puts all the textiles together. She employs, through subcontractors, the beaders, the jewellers, and the leather makers. This is the whole team.
AA: Your work is about reconnection with your heritage. You ended up employing so many people that you are related to, which really aligns with your brand. Was that a conscious decision?
EC: It was a conscious decision because, in the beginning, accountancy is very expensive. Laura’s mom had been doing this for her whole life, she is extremely knowledgeable about how to own a small business in the UK, so we got really lucky. She started for free when it was less work. Then all of a sudden, it became pretty much a full-time job.
LL: She takes care of the cash flow, projections, figuring out finances, how many orders we can take on, the financial side of things that I and Emma just can’t deal with at the same time as everything else. You need someone that’s always on top of the numbers otherwise the business doesn’t function.