Coffee Break: We Talk To The Ladies Behind Attic Exchange
Starting up your own business in the fashion industry, combining your love for fashion with a business savvy mind seems like the unobtainable dream for many of our readers. But Zoe Poulson and Suzanne Corker, the duo behind Attic Exchange made it their reality. We caught up with the two busy ladies over a coffee in our office here in Covent Garden a few weeks ago and thankfully they are both coffee lovers, just like the YCB team. We sat down to talk about how the two execs started their business and how to make it in the business world today.
Asking where they met, the two working mums tells YCB that they met through their children. Both trying to juggle work and family life, Zoe and Sue soon realised how hard it was to create a good work-life balance. ‘There needs to be more support to help women back into the workplace after a career break. Time and time again I see women with fantastic skills who had really high-powered jobs, being defeated in their attempt to re-enter the workforce. Flexible hours is the key, but it’s amazing when you try and find a new job, the attitude of employers. Hence the boom of female entrepreneurs’ Sue tells YCB.
And entrepreneurs they are! These two power-ladies are perfectly suited to make a dynamic and hard-working business team. ‘We are opposite ends of the spectrum’ Zoe explains, who has a background in fashion and was the youngest buyer at United Colours of Benetton. ‘But I think that’s why we work so well’. Contrastingly, Sue is a qualified Accountant (Chartered Institute of Certified accountants) and has been involved in many start-up businesses, one of which impressively grew to a turnover of $15m in just over 5 years!
The idea of Attic Exchange came partially due to the economic climate. ‘Recycling, re-using and vintage fashion is hugely important now’ Zoe tells Your Coffee Break. And as we always love a good treasure hunt, we couldn’t agree more! Seeing a gap in the market, they filled it. Starting with a ‘clothes swap’ event with friends and fellow mums from the local school, their concept of swapping someone’s previous fashion choices, and opening up someone else’s fashion journey was well received. From the initial idea through to the launch of their site in September 2012, Zoe and Sue have had a bit too much to do, building up and promoting the Attic Exchange brand.
Sticking to the areas they are strongest in, Zoe meets with clients, visits people’s wardrobes and deals with the creative side while Sue keeps the structure of the business strong by working on the financial and business side. Together they balance each other out and form a very strong workforce. Both agree on their favourite parts of the job however. ‘I love seeing women’s unwanted treasures’ says Zoe while Sue adds ‘I love it when Zoe arrives back from seeing a client with wonderful new take ins and we go through everything – each item of designer clothing is like a little work of art.’
Although their work sounds fun (just imagine being surrounded by designer clothes all day!) S and Z both stress how hard they have worked to get to where they are today. ‘There are many late nights and early mornings, but that is all part of a start-up! Setting up a company is like having another child, it takes up a lot of time and energy and you lose a lot of sleep!’ Sue tells Your Coffee Break. Zoe agrees that being entrepreneurs and mothers is still hard, ‘Childcare is easier but when you work from home it’s hard to shut off and say no. You just want to do more and more because it’s your own business.’
Attic Exchange is growing from strength to strength and the pair have high expectations for the future of the business. With plans to start an at home service and delve into styling, you can expect to see and hear a lot more about these two lovely ladies and their fabulous attic full of designer treasures!
For more information or to get your hands on their latest vintage treasures, visit: www.atticexchange.co.uk