I’m always on the lookout for new curated sites that make finding brands you love and those special pieces that much easier! What’s brilliant about Studio B is that founder Bethany Rowntree set up with a focus on those smaller independent brands that you see and fall in love with on Instagram but might not necessarily know where to find…It also helps that Bethany really has an eye for those pieces that people are going to crave – her background at Matches.com, Anya Hindmarch and Mulberry will account for that no doubt! Bethany has a curated collection including brands that I already love like Gestuz, Genevieve Sweeney, Paradise Row, Baia, Rewritten and Jessie Harris and those I’ve had my eye on for a while like Rixo and Baum Und Pferdgarten.
The pieces I’m wearing in the photos are exactly the kind I would go to Studio B for – not the absolute basics, but something with a little more personality by brands confidently doing what they’re best at. I’ve put together a bit of a festive party look with a colour-popping silk blouse from Rixo accessorised with the Paradise Row Pearly and cool gal classic sunnies by Monc. (The blazer is actually from COS, but I just loved how it clashed with the shirt!)
Anyway Bethany and I had a lovely coffee together – one of those where we could have nattered all day! Bethany told me all about how she got started and where she’s going, so do have a read of the indepth interview below to find out about how Studio B came about, why Bethany stocks the brands she does, the best-sellers, her favourite pieces and a fantastic substitute for THAT Ganni knit! 😉
- Tell me how Studio B came about? What was your background before & what are you hoping to achieve with it?
I’d been thinking (and thinking) about Studio B for years! I actually bought the domain name over 2 years ago… but still remained in my job at the time. I’d worked for Mulberry where I started and loved at the time; I’m actually from the North East, then went to Uni in Manchester where I worked part-time in the Mulberry store, before getting an internship at head office in the buying & merchandising team.
After more than 3 years there I then went to Matchesfashion.com and then lastly Anya Hindmarch. Each company was different but also similar and the roles began to blend into one. Even as you moved higher up I still felt I wasn’t making the most of my skills; I’d always wanted to work in fashion but just felt I still wasn’t doing what I loved. Most people who work at big brands will probably tell you it’s not always what it seems from the outside and I just began to feel a bit disillusioned and kept thinking there must be more!
I loved ‘stuff’ and finding something new or special things, but began to not really enjoy shopping (shock horror!). Especially working in luxury fashion as I couldn’t actually afford anything I was surrounded by! I kept finding smaller more independent brands or newer brands I didn’t know so well on Instagram and started thinking wouldn’t it be amazing to put them all into one edited place that looks amazing, that tells people more about them, and is easy to shop. Where everything is at the same level of premium, but attainable, so you know what you’re expecting price wise (by attainable I mean I’ll eat tinned tuna for a week, not half the year, to buy an amazing dress!). I just kept asking myself if you didn’t want fast fashion, premium high street or super luxury, and wanted something a bit more unique, where did you go?
I want to grow Studio B by planning more physical events and keep adding more brands, at some point branching out into adding European brands too. All with similar values and products that work well together but can still bring something unique to the site. I’d love to have a physical studio space that would be our office and a retail space for customers, but more of a personal, buyers showroom type feel.
The end goal is to then grow this into an independent mini department store, offering all our Studio B brands but also homeware, cards, beauty, food, floristry – I just think it would be an amazing place to shop. We recently did an event just last week and we collaborated with Push PR using their showroom space, and also with Shoreditch Nails, Café Miami, Mean Mail(cards) and Southern Wild London (florists). Everything worked well together, and this is the start of my independent joint department store vision!
- You mentioned that the brands you stock being those ones you see on Instagram and really want – how much do you think Instagram is defining how we shop and these days?
I think Instagram definitely plays an increasingly growing role in how we shop now. It’s such a great tool for a brand to show their identity and personality and so easy to show how you would style pieces, what you wear and find new brands. I would say most our customers interact with us through here, ask questions about products and place requests. There’s also always something new on Instagram and its quick to view on the move, most brands post new images at least twice a day, so there’s always something new to catch your eye.
I use it, I shop through seeing people wearing looks on Instagram now, it’s so much better to see something on a real person actually wearing it and it really make me want it as it creates more of a vision than a flat product shot online. You may have noticed on our site I’ve styled looks hanging together and on our Instagram I try to wear our stock to show styling ideas… I need to improve my modelling skills, but I just wanted to show things on a real person, and I’m cheap!
- Talk me through some of the brands you currently stock and why…
I love all the brands on the site, I genuinely do love every piece and want everything myself! Which is a little bit of a curse, as the point of the business was not to increase my shopping habit!
I love Paradise Row as the bags have such a story behind them and are all inspired y, and made in, East London, which the charms one each bag represents. I really see them becoming a great British heritage brand in years to come. Another bag one we have is Baia, again British but the founder Susy handmakes them all herself in her studio in Yorkshire, so much time and craftsmanship goes into them. Plus, they’re all gorgeous textures and colours and a bit more unique I feel.
Monc London make the most incredible quality sunglasses, as soon as I tried them on I could tell the difference; they’re handcrafted in Italy and so comfortable to wear, plus they have subtle but special design details. Their founder Freddie’s vision was to created premium sunglasses without the extreme luxury price tag, which is one of the things I liked about the brand, they’re beautifully crafted and most are under £200.
Rixo is a personal favourite, I’ve loved this brand since the start, I really wanted to stock them as I think the prints are so different and the styles are genuinely flattering, you just feel so good in a Rixo dress! I also really liked the fact they’d set it up themselves only two years ago and Henrietta and Orlagh hand paint all the print designs themselves, they also still sell the brand from their living room in Fulham, down the road from me! I find it really inspiring and sort of reassuring that you really can start a business from your kitchen table and grow it into something incredible – if you’ve got a good product people will come!
- What are your best sellers so far? And any favourite pieces for winter partywear?
So far, the leopard print pieces have been very popular, the dress and skirt from Danish brand Gestuz have completely sold out in under 12 weeks – which for a new site I wasn’t expecting. The burgundy Faux Fur Coat from the same brand has also seen an uplift since the weather has gotten colder, it really is so so soft and cosy – someone at our event last week was convinced it was real fur! Same with the Leopard Faux Fur Jacket from Baum und Pferdgarten (another Danish brand); I promise they are all faux fur they’re just amazing quality, and this leopard jacket is one of my personal favourites.
Also Rosita Bonita, Chalk and Milk Tooth LDN jewellery have proved popular, they’re all statement earrings and necklaces and a great price and just offer something a bit more unique. Again, I love a big earring! Plus, the Super Her Tee from brand Zazou has been a favourite, it’s really fun and easy to wear. The exclusive collection of one off leather and Mongolian sheepskin jackets we have from Johanna Sandshas also almost sold out and we only launched this in November. Johanna has been handcrafting jackets for over 12 years, I found her on Instagram a couple of years ago and when I started Studio B asked if she’d be interested in a collaboration. She doesn’t have a website and just sells from her home, making each jacket as a bespoke order. The quality is gorgeous and each one is complete one off, they are a little higher priced but just think how much you pay for an off the peg leather jacket from Whistles?
In terms of winter partywear I can think of a few! We’ve just had come in the most incredible Rixo Multicoloured Sequin Dress, it’s pastel coloured sequins, midi length with sleeves and just the dream dress! Very limited production too so we only have two online, but a good thing as means not everyone can get it. Any Rixo dress is good, the red jungle print Camellia dressis a winner, the Fedora in the vibrant blue, red and black blossom print is perfect, as is the Leah jumpsuit and the Cindy oriental print kimono is perfect as it can be worn fastened as a dress or open over trousers and a tee – two in one!
We also have a rather special Baum und Pferdgarten Jacquard Co-ord Suitfor something a bit different than sequins and dresses. Plus we have some new in bits from this brand; the bright blue Satin Wide Leg Trousers are super flattering and look fab with the Lurex Houndstooth Frill Jumper. Also, the Gestuz Burgundy Maxi Dressis stunning for something special; from the same brand the Sparkly Roll Neck is an easy winner (and perfect gift price too) and the Leather Dungaree Jumpsuit is just so cool and can be styled so many different ways.
- And do share any exciting new brands you have coming in for the new year! Anything in particular you’ve got your eye on yourself?
In terms of new brands we have a few more independent ones just added last week, such as Elin Horgan, handcrafted jewellery, you’ll want her Orbit hoops! Also, Violet & Wren, the most luxurious printed silk lounge/day wear and Makeda Matheson, bold colour pop 100% Mongolian cashmere (made there too) jumpers and accessories. And next year we already have some in the pipeline including more lingerie, RTW and bag brands.
I’m also adding one of my favourite new brands, another Danish one, called Stine Goya. The collection is simply stunning, the quality is beautiful and they’re the perfect wedding, event, special dresses you can wear again and again. Like all our brands they have a more standout style rather than follow trends – I’ve definitely got my eye on this long yellow dress in a solid woven fabric with structured short sleeves, it felt very Victoria Beckham to me but around £300 not thousands!
To answer your question, I’ve got my eye on a lot for myself ha-ha! I may have also picked up one of those Rixo sequin dresses, but the plan is for summer weddings, it’s really lightweight and the pastels make it an all year-round sequin number!
Personally, I also love the brands Paloma Wool and Staud bags, I’d love the bucket shaped one. I also think Ganni is incredible and could be one for the future for Studio B, although I love it, it is perhaps a little well known now over here for my brand mix. Although I do love that infamous Ganni jumper, however I’ve found a fantastic substitute from Gestuz, it’s a wool/mohair blend Mint Green Knitted Jumper and almost half the price of the Ganni one at £179 – check out new in on the site!
Thankyou for reading! All pics by myself on Olympus Pen F.