We caught up with the lovely woman behind Kitten Beachwear, Gail Conder, before she whizzes off on her next journey abroad. In love with travelling and enjoying the wonders of the world, be it on a beach in India or a small Spanish island, she and her brand embodies the exotic and natural beauty of many countries and cultures.
Here’s what Gail had to say…
– Do you remember where you were when you decided to set up your own business?
I was sitting on the beach having lunch with friends in Candolim, Goa. Looking around at all the beautiful colours of the Arabian Sea, palm trees, golden sand and some of the beautiful young vibrant people from all corners of the globe enjoying their holidays there. I always knew I had an eye for colour and design, however, at that point it was only a dream, 3 weeks later and still enjoying the delights of my final days in Goa, my dream had become a reality and I headed home with a brand name and a starting point.
– What was the first thing you did when you made the decision to go for it?
For me the look and feel of my label and logo was the key. I chose KITTEN as I felt it was memorable, I developed the artwork around the word and a strong image of a LEOPARD. It was a kind of oxymoron; a soft name with fierce imagery.
– What gets you out of bed everyday?
First and foremost my young Labrador (India), who wakes me up with a few snuffles and licks. From a business perspective, it’s my drive to create something that stands alone as a wardrobe staple, something that oozes quality and style. As well as forming relationships by talking to my fiercely loyal clientele, dressing them via private showings and beaming from ear to ear when I see the images they send to us, having fabulous holidays whilst wearing my collections.
– Tell us about your brand
KITTEN really is a brand that can suit anyone from 18 to 80, as there are pieces in all fabrics, of all lengths and patterns. I strongly believe that everyone wants to sparkle on their holidays and get a few admiring glances from their partners. My pieces make women happy.
– Who would your ideal “celebrity” customer be?
I have quite a few already who rock their own look in KITTEN, especially Chloe-Jasmine Whichello, who definitely oozes style and sophistication with her classic yet distinctive English Rose appeal. However, I would really love to style Rihanna, Erikah Badu, Kenya Moore and Gigi Hadid, as I feel they epitomise KITTEN.
– Have you ever wanted to quit and if so what kept you going?
No, I’ve never wanted to quit but I have had moments in my earlier days where I worried about finances, and considered becoming a sidepreneur and taking up another job at the same time. Thankfully in my heart I knew that if I took my eye off the prize it would dilute the time I could devote to KITTEN, which is now coming into fruition.
– What tips would you give someone looking to set up their own business?
So many. A key thing that has helped me is watching the pennies, I always sleep on any purchases I am considering making for the business, I think of the impact it’ll have. A big sleep later, the decision is made, all pennies count! Your profit and margin details should be kept confidential and should only be shared wisely. Test your suppliers with small orders 2-3 times before going large, as people are not always as consistent in their later orders as they were to gain your initial business. Lastly, do something that you really love and enjoy it, as it will probably take over your life ha!
– If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?
I would have started KITTEN 10 years earlier as I have never been happier, it’s cliche but I do really love my job!
– How do you unwind outside of work?
I walk my dog India 4-5 miles a day, that’s my thinking and fitness time combined. I love it and have met lots of fun people whilst doing so, dog friendly people are my kind of people. I am a real foodie and lover of fine wines. For me, there is nothing better than a night out with my family and friends, usually involving dinner somewhere yummy with Prosecco and Cocktails. I also love a good, well thought out movie, favourites include Sliding Doors, The Killing Fields, The Colour Purple and almost everything Tarantino has put his name to. Its rumoured that I cook a mean Indian curry and enjoy that immensely -no stinting on the chillies. I travel at every opportunity I can. My favourite places to kick back include almost anywhere in India as I adore the vibrancy of Rajasthan, the beach culture of North and South Goa, where a day on the beach easily leads to evening of fun. Travel inspires me and gives me a goal to work to, as some of the best books I have read, the most interesting people I have met and the most delicious meals I have eaten have been whilst my toes are a foot away from sand and a throwing distance from the sea. That’s me!