When an email dropped into my inbox telling me about a new on-line shopping destination, Atterley Road, set up by Katie Starmer-Smith, formerly of Jigsaw, you probably won't find it too hard to imagine that my ears pricked up! With an exchange of only a handful of emails, it was arranged that I would speak with Katie.
Ideas for a new business often arise because what is currently available doesn't quite meet a person's individual needs - and Atterley Road is no exception.
When Katie looked in her wardrobe she found that half of it was made up of premium high street brands and that half was made up of independent labels. However she felt that there was no one place that catered for what she wanted from an online shopping experience - a place where she could find good quality pieces from reliable, established premium high street brands, sitting alongside independent boutique labels, at a good price. And so that is how Atterley Road was born. So, brands such as Jigsaw, Whistles, Hobbs, NW3 and Farhi sit alongside independent labels such as Pyrus, Made and Bellerose. The aim is to provide stylish pieces that fit well, rather than on trend pieces which need updating each season, whether it's for the school run, a lunch out with friends or just a lazy weekend at home.
The best way that I can describe Atterley Road is to say that it sits between ASOS and Net-A-Porter. Atterley Road currently has 30 brands on board for A/W '12 with nearly another 30 appearing for S/S '13. Katie has just taken on six new Scandanavian brands with a visit to France lined up for next week to take on some independent French labels. She carefully selects the pieces that are sold, editing the collections by asking herself would she wear the piece? Who else would wear it? When would she wear it? and How many ways would she wear it?
Katie, a former designer at Jigsaw has standards - very high standards - and demands a lot from her clothes both in terms of cut, fit, quality, price and versatility. Years of working at Jigsaw, where attention to detail was everything, have seen to that - and that is what she is seeking to create at Atterley Road.
Three months of intensive market research, questioning women up and down the country, with and without children and from different income brackets, satisfied Katie that there was a demand for Atterley Road and the first five weeks of trading have supported that.
What I think is fantastic about Atterley Road is that it gives exposure to independent labels, who may not otherwise have had that exposure. Also, as someone who lives in a large city which has the stores with the premium labels but not the independent boutiques, I am really excited about extending my knowledge and discovering new brands which I may not have done so otherwise - safe in the knowledge that Katie has cast her discerning eye over the fabric, fit and quality of the garments first.
For those unsure of how to put the pieces together, the "Features" section of the website details the perfect pieces to include in a capsule wardrobe, how to wear stripes and three ways to wear the oversized white MiH shirt.
Katie is also passionate about good customer service and is constantly testing, checking and monitoring her procedures to ensure that nothing falls short of what she expects.
My only problem with Atterley Road? It's not real! I would love to spend a few hours there but given that it's not, I will have to satisfy myself with browsing the site and waiting expectantly for a time when I can cast my beady stylist's eyes over the new brands for S/S '13.