Some days I'm happy in a striped top, jeans and my favourite pair of pearl earrings and classic watch, but I've been known to head for an evening out in 70s-style wide leg trousers, strappy top and the most enormous pair of Pat Butcher earrings, practically knocking myself out every time I turn my head! This usually means I'm up for a big night with the girls - look out! Our sartorial choices when it comes to the details speak volumes about who we are, and our mood that day. So I was excited to discover that my friend Nicky Hadjithoma had opened her own jewellery shop in London's fashionable Goodge Street.
I wanted to find out more about her journey, what inspired her, and a bit more about her style ethos.
What inspired you to open your shop?
I originally studied fashion design and then spent 5 years working in fashion PR & marketing, before doing my masters at Central Saint Martins in Innovation Management. I went on to work as a brand consultant, spotting trends and finding commercial opportunities for businesses. I very quickly realised that I had deviated somewhat from my path. I missed working in fashion and missed being creative and after turning 30, I realised it was now or never. It was time to put all my experience to play and start my own venture.
How did you come up with the concept and the design?
Shopping for jewellery always left me cold. I found that to find something really special was becoming more and more difficult. There seemed to be a real polarisation between high fashion pieces which were undoubtedly beautiful, but often way too out there and expensive, that even the most fashion savvy woman would find it hard to justify. At the same time more affordable jewellery was so mainstream and too readily available - and for me the most important thing about jewellery is that it has to be unique. No woman I know doesn't love it when her friend admires a piece of jewellery that she wishes she'd found first! So, I wanted to create a store that offered what I like to call 'affordable exclusivity'.
To make it happen, I spent a lot of time abroad scouting out hot international designers that had not yet made their move to the UK. Some are already established, whilst some up and coming, but either way bringing something fresh and exciting to the mix. When it comes to store environment as well, I found many independents to be quite intimidating and often unwelcoming - with service too in-your-face instead of letting customers browse.
Store design I also found pretty underwhelming, with uniform table top displays being standard choice - and well, just non-aspirational. With so many people now shopping on line as well, I wanted to create an offline experience that would entice peopleback on to the high street. With all these considerations, I decided to design the shop interior with a cool and contemporary feel that was casual and most importantly, inviting.
My inspiration for the interior came from a New York style loft apartment, with brick walls, hardwood floors and lots of random design features. The key focus for displaying the collections is known as the 'gallery of jewels', which I have also had made in a bright orange neon, on the brickwork - I love it! This main wall (designed as a gallery wall fixture), has different styles and shapes of box frame showcasing the jewellery as works of art. It really makes people take their time to look at each piece and admire it in all it's glory - and while they browse, we stand back and give them space to breathe. On top of that our door is always open and we have carefully selected playlists also adding to the mood.
I can not believe how other independent jewellery shops don't have music - it's insane!
What does style mean to you?
Style is more important to me than fashion. I'm not someone who follows each season's must-have trend. For a start, it's about knowing your body, what works for you and most importantly what you feel comfortable in.
I think denim is the best invention known to man. I literally live in jeans and t-shirts! My jeans span over two wardrobes and as for my t-shirts, well I have every shape and fabric known to man - it's all about the detail in them that makes them all special though. I feel much sexier in dressed up jeans than a dress, any day of the week.
It's all about the accessories! Shoes, bags and jewellery - that's where all my money goes!
What does jewellery say about a person's sense of style?
Everything. I always think of jewellery as an extension of a woman's identity, that's why jewellery is worth investing in.
How would you define your style, and how has it evolved over the years?
Oh god - that's a difficult one. My style has evolved A LOT over the years. I was quite a tomboy when I was young and then during my teens was quite experimental. I won't go into more detail than that, because some of it is quite embarrassing in hindsight - but we all have to go through those phases until we know what works for us.
As for my style today, I just asked my assistant and she said 'contemporary, casual, chic', whatever that means? As I said, I live in jeans and t-shirts most of the time - I certainly don't do girly and if anything I'd say I'm a bit rough around the edges - I live in my battered biker boots!
What is your favourite piece of clothing in your wardrobe, and your favourite accessory?
Any one of my many jeans. As for my favourite accessory, it has to be this necklace I bought from Dover Street Market. It's a long silver chain with a mini vintage hand-held mirror at the end. I usually wear it layered up with other long chains. It was made by Miles Chapman - ex-editor of Vanity Fair in the 80's who now suffers from Parkinson's so has to use his hands as much as possible to keep mobile. He spends all his time nowadays making jewellery out of random vintage pieces he's collected over the years. It's just beautiful and it feels as though there is a real story behind it.
How many pairs of shoes do you have?
Oh dear - at least 40.
What is your advice for other women wanting to set up their own business?
Just go for it! Stick to your vision, be sure you know your market and be willing to learn along the way.
Source: INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN: NICKY HADJITHOMA OF NEONY