Kim Winser is onto a winning formula. I knew that when the founder and CEO of Winser London talked me through her inaugural online collection three years ago. These are timeless, ageless, infinitely wearable clothes that grown-up women want. Now with bricks and mortar stores in the UK, in California and plans for one in London, 57-year-old Winser is celebrating the third birthday of her eponymous brand. I chatted to the OBE-holding fashion expert about business, so far:
TNMA: Happy Birthday, Kim! How have the first three years been?
KW: It’s been an excellent start, I’ve got a terrific team and things are really on a roll. More advanced than I thought we’d be at this point: we’re much bigger in America than we thought we’d be, I thought we’d do well in Europe but it picked up very quickly in the USA, we’ve just resized the website for mobile devices, we need bigger premises – I really couldn’t ask for more.
AW: If you could go back three years, what advice would you give yourself?
KW: Probably something around being prepared to do seven days a week, to work all hours. I’m experienced, I’m used to running big companies (M&S, Pringle and Aquascutum) and being on the board of directors but with Winser London I’ve done everything the team has done. We have senior staff working at every level. I put together a team of experienced people but every department has people straight from university. I wanted to ‘Gift Back’, too many youngsters come out of university and are unemployed. We’re a digitally-centred business so this strategy has really worked and the graduates love sitting next to people who are normally three layers above.
AW: Have you seen any changes in the industry?
KW: There are definitely more senior women now, I am noticing it. I meet people all over the world and you suddenly think ‘Wow, women are really making a difference.’ Women are doing great things in the fashion and beauty industries – it amazes me how many fab stories you read. People tend to come to me as a senior woman and I dedicate at least one day a month to nurturing young talent, I think it’s important to give support to young women.
AW: What are your Winser London highlights?
KW: One that made me smile was seeing Emma Watson after the 2014 Oscars walking through LAX airport in a Winser London trench. She was a Burberry model and I wasn’t expecting it – I received so many lovely messages from the Burberry team.
AW: Have you lost Yasmin le Bon to Armani?
KW: She will definitely be appearing next season – from Armani to Winser London! Yasmin has been with us for three years, I contacted her before I started the business, she’s a real woman, beautiful and stunning and so genuine; not only professional but absolutely lovely.
And this is good news, perennially beautiful and ageless, Le Bon encapsulates this brand. I’m looking forward to seeing what Winser London achieves over the next three years.