Project Description

As part of our series highlighting some of the amazing brands we support, we interviewed Start Up Loan alumni, Louise Körner, founder and creative director of her eponymous print-focused womenswear brand.

Louise Körner is a Swedish London-based fashion designer, who studied at the prestigious Central Saint Martins going on to graduate from the Instituto Marangoni.

Her designs have been featured in numerous fashion magazines such as Swedish ELLE and VOGUE Italia as well as music videos, fashion films, and on celebrities and fashion bloggers. Additionally her fashion illustrations was published in the Fashion book series FASHION 2.

Louise kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her journey so far, and how she found the Start Up Loan process.

What were you doing before setting up the Louise Korner label?
I worked as a designer for different fashion related companies such as Tom Ford, Hussein Chalayan, Puma (Black Label) and The English National Ballet. I then collaborated with the Danish Fashion Company MUUSE creating 4 collaborative collections, which were sold in over 20 stockists. It gave me the opportunity to test the market and see if my creative direction, designs and print had a demand.
What made you want to start your own business?
It has always been a dream to start my own business. Nevertheless, I wanted to first work in the industry to understand its essence. Additionally, after collaborating with MUUSE and receiving concrete feedback from buyers and press, I understood there was a demand and market for my designs.

Interview with Louise KornerWhen did you launch and how was the response? We officially launched in March 2015. The response has been really positive and I actually needed to produce more pieces because of demand on specific designs.
What is your brand’s USP?
I’d say we’re a contemporary womenswear label encompassing high quality garments which focus on great fit and comfort, alongside unique signature art- prints, fabrics and fabrication.
How did you hear about the Fashion Angel Start Up Loan scheme?
I was part of a talk at REPRESENT about the Fashion Industry. Alison Lewy from Fashion Angel and myself were on the discussion panel and this is how I met Alison. Previously, I had heard about Fashion Angel from my mentor David Jones and Leon Hemingway.
What did you use the loan for?
The money was used for the production of SS16 collection that is now sold in shops and online. It was also used for the new AW16/17 collection that was taken to Stockholm Fashion Week in February 2016.
How did you find the loan application process?
The loan application process went very smoothly and was very straightforward.
Did you find the one to one pre loan support useful?
This was very useful and I received concrete feedback on the business model and guidance on what needed to be revised for the loan application. With the financial support from Fashion Angel it gave me the opportunity to make my fashion business a reality.
Have you found post-loan mentoring helpful?
Again, Alison has been supportive and encouraging with strong ideas for us going forward.

louise korner a-w 16

Louise Korner A/W 16

What is your route to market?
I am selling both through my online store and to wholesale stockists.
Who are your customers?
Our target customer is a fashion- conscious female with high disposable income, aged 19-55 years. Works within the fashion, finance, media and the arts, socialises and travels regularly therefore demanding a constant need to renew her wardrobe. She would also ideally like comfort and individuality.
What so far has been the biggest set up challenge and in hindsight, your biggest mistake?
The biggest challenge was my lack of business knowledge due to the fact my degree was in Fashion Design and how to actually set up a business wasn’t covered. Nevertheless, I was very eager and wanted to learn about the business side so I took a business course so that I was fully prepared before setting up my business. This also helped to to decide the best way to set it up.

Mistakes are part of the journey, but you have to learn to solve problems efficiently and remain flexible. It is a trial and error process, so the more mistakes you make in the beginning, the better. When your business grows in size, those mistakes are going to be financially more serious!

COSMIC AQUARIUM _ collageWhat is your greatest achievement so far?
My greatest achievement so far was to run a successful Kickstarter campaign October 2015, and reach my target goal . Due to the boost my campaign received in the beginning, my campaign was featured on the Kickstarter homepage and this encouraged more donations from then on.
What would be your advice to anyone starting out?
Be prepared to be 100% ready to dedicate your whole life to it, since it is only you that will make it happen. Do your research, be realistic with your growth goal, and prioritise from the start. It‘s not easy and you’ll constantly run into problems, but the outcome is so rewarding; its so worth it.
What are your hopes for the future?
In 5 years time, my goal is to have LOUISE KÖRNER in world wide retailers and department stores.

Interview by Meg Plenderleith

Find out how the Fashion Angel Start Up Loan Programme can help your fashion business.