As a member of Red magazine’s panel of inspirational women and twice named in the POWER LIST as one of the 100 most influential people in the fashion industry, Deryane Tadd is a force to be reckoned with. From its conception in 2005, Deryane’s multi award-winning boutique, The Dressing Room, has since risen to become one of the nation’s most revered, independent, retail businesses. Property Divas catches up with the savvy Deryane, as she discusses her entrepreneurial spirit and her visions of dressing the contemporary woman.
With 20 years in retail fashion, how do you keep your passion alive and where do you find your inspiration?
It’s a cliche, but when you love what you do it’s easy to stay motivated. I find inspiration in so many places as I am always looking for the next, the new and the inspiring. In that sense, I am always open to ideas. When I am travelling around Europe for trade shows, I regularly come away with fresh ideas and inspiration. I have just returned from Paris with one of my team members and we have some exciting brand and display ideas up our sleeves. I am going to Copenhagen Fashion week in February which, like Paris, is a wonderful city brimming with inspiration. I also find social media to be a fantastic tool in inspiring and creating newness.
You established The Dressing Room ten years ago, what was the rationale for the business?
I had worked in fashion retail for 12 years when circumstances gave me the drive to set up my own business. I wanted to create a shopping environment that combined an affordable and aspirational product in a beautiful and friendly environment. The business has expanded and developed immensely in the past decade, yet the ethos is still the same.
Did you find that your background in retail fashion meant that the business was taken seriously by the industry or did you find you faced a set of challenges as a woman entrepreneur?
My background was helpful in some respects; I had contacts with a handful of brands and I knew what to expect within the industry as well as how to run a fashion retail business. However, securing the finances and getting landlords to take me seriously as a woman entrepreneur was a whole different story. It was incredibly difficult, I was often patronised and over-looked as a serious business proposition due to my age and gender. I found this made me even more determined and, thankfully, I found the right landlords and the right bank in the long run.
As a keynote business speaker, what’s the most common question you are asked?
The most common question I am asked is: ‘How do you find the time to do everything when you are always moving the business on?’. There isn’t an easy answer, I just prioritise, delegate and work very hard to make things happen!
How do you decide what brands to stock/showcase?
I am very analytical and always buy with my specific customer base in mind. I tend to know what will work and what won’t and I am also always looking for the gaps I need to fill in my product range; though sometimes I will just come across a brand that makes my heart race and the analysis and budgets go out the window! All new brands are carefully considered however. I look at how they will work alongside my other collections, how the pricing and quality compare and, ultimately, I ask myself whether my team and my customers will be as excited as I am when they arrive in store.
How do you choose the stylists that are available to advise on the site?
It is always difficult to find great, passionate people to join the team as retail is often overlooked as a career choice (which I find hugely frustrating as I know how rewarding it can be). I look for people who love fashion, are not afraid of hard work and have a friendly manner. I have a fantastic team at present and I am always looking for new talent to join The Dressing Room.
What do you have planned for the business in the future?
This year we are really focusing on strengthening the styling services that we offer. We have some great new features going live on the site, including a LookBook page with key styling tips, a new ‘The Dressing TV’ landing page where you can watch all of our styling videos in one place and the introduction of a ‘Core Classics’ section on the site where you can shop all of your wardrobe staples plus much, much more. These new elements will combine to create an enhanced shopping experience that will take the business to the next level.
What advice would you give yourself if you could speak to the younger you?
That’s a tough one, but I suppose I would say: always stick with your gut instincts, as when you go against them it doesn’t work.
Visit The Dressing Room boutique, 6-8 High Street, St Albans, Herts, AL3 4EL. Tel: 01727 853577