Dear Elgin Avenue readers,
A delightful Saturday evening to you all!
The beginning of this week was of course punctuated with some amazing news - namely that via your fantastic support T.E.A has made the shortlist for the Marie Claire Blog and Twitter Awards - I cannot tell you how excited I am for Tuesday's breakfast shindig! - Monday's wonderfulness seemed to flow right on through to Tuesday when I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Spring/Summer preview for gorgeous online boutique Monica & Joe.
Hot Pink Jacket: Vintage Jaeger, Silk Shirt with Bow Tie: Jigsaw, Red Cigarette Trousers: Zara, Snakeskin Heels: Pontas Quintas (bought in Menorca)
One of the Monica&Joe collection rails
Husband and wife duo Monica and Joe Wahla quite clearly have a serious eye for style; having cultivated their tastes in high-flying positions for Mulberry and Arcadia Group this dynamic duo have made good use of all their previous know-how to launch their very own online boutique - the aptly titled Monica & Joe!
As I bonded with the oh-so-stylish Monica over our shared name (more of a rarity than you'd think!) and her lovely husband and business partner Joe, we were able to have a great tet-a-tet about their online venture and Spring/Summer collection.
MB meets Monica & Joe
MB: Who is the Monica & Joe customer?
M&J: I know it really annoys Monica (quote Joe!), but Monica is the muse, she always tell me off and says 'don't say that'! but Monica is really cool and edgy. Monica is a buyer so she naturally pushes the boundary and everything she wears other ladies want to wear too. We do pop up events and shops and you always see the ladies coming out wearing exactly what Monica is wearing. So, even though she doesn't like me saying it - it is true!
MB: You have a diverse range of designers in your store, from amazing Danish brands like DAY Birger et Mikkelson, to some really cool hip British designers like Peter Jenson, how do you go about selecting your brands with the Monica & Joe customer in mind?
M&J: When we started this business we thought it was going to be very London-centric, we thought that mainly Londoners are going to get it, but it hasn't panned out quite like that. We have made a conscious decision to go after some very cool British designers, Peter Jensen, Olivia Rubin and Simeon Farrar are all amazing and we get customers from all round the UK, however we also have a very large Scandinavian clientele alongside customers from all around the World. Our inspiration is very Danish, we love the way they dress, I mean when you go to Copenhagen you see these girls cycling round in their 20’s 30’s 40’s 5 0’s and 60’s and they’re looking totally effortlessly cool and tasteful, it’s amazing and they like what we do.
MB: Why do you think Monica & Joe is so popular in Scandinavia?
M&J: Geographically the larger Scandinavian cities are well served, Copenhagan and Oslo have some fantastic stores, however move slightly out of those cities and they don't have the shops, they have the money and desire but not the location - that is where online shopping serves them well. I have heard anecdotally that Scandinavian fashion magazines will feature editorial shoots which are then credited with ‘available at net-a-porter’ When it is not available from a Scandinavian store it is just as easy to shop online.
MB: A little birdy told me that you do live web chats with your customers; how important is it for you to have personal contact with your client base?
M&J: It is hugely hugely important, we really love that our customers enjoy our clothes and one of our aims this year is to include photographs of our clients in the clothes they have bought from the site - on the site! We want to give them the opportunity to see the community they are opting to be a part of. All of our delivery is next day - you place an order by 3.30pm and you can expect it the very next day. We are at the end of the phone so we will speak to the customers, it is nice if there is a problem with their delivery that we will sort it out, there is no bureaucratic procedure to go through. We just fall over backwards to make sure our customer gets what they have ordered, we have some really nice customers and we really really trust them so you know if they want to exchange something we just send it out and touch wood we haven't had any problems, we know how important it is if someone wants to go to an event. It is a mutual thing.
MB: How much of the company do you run yourselves?
M&J: We run the whole venture essentially; we have a third party for our warehouse and PR, but largely we run it all ourselves. We upgraded our site last November; once you’ve learnt a skill like managing your website you can do it all yourself. Briefing people can get a bit lost in translation, when you have total control everything is your own exact vision.
MB: Which celebrity would be your ideal Monica & Joe customer?
M&J: Oo that's a hard one! It would have to be someone like Sienna Miller, we would love someone like her! She is quite bohemian and she does the messy hair thing but she is still so gorgeous, stunning. We also love the blonde actress from Gossip Girl, Blake Lively, she has a very cool sense of style and she would make the perfect modern Monica & Joe girl.
MB: What sort of price point do you work with?
M&J: Our price point ranges from about £99 - to £400 or £500. On average we aim for about £160 for a dress - probably a little bit higher than Whistles and that type of brand but still very affordable. We like to have affordable pieces but it is also important for us to include some aspirational items and they do sell. We just got a leather skirt in by Marlene Birger which is £385 and it sold straight away. It is just amazing, it is quite important to have the expensive pieces because they are sellers, having said that we do aim to be affordable so we have a lot for around £100 - £150. In amongst our basics it is the wow pieces that people come to us for.
MB: Can you chose your favourite items from the Spring/Summer collection to share with the Elgin Avenue readers?
M&J: Most definitely! Although we love it all...!
Monica & Joe's Spring/Summer Hits
1. Sequin Embellished Dress: Virginie Castaway £549
2. Tie-dye Maxi Skirt: Munthe Plus Simonsen- £190
3. Oversized Tailored Jacket: Bruuns Bazaar £229,
Black Wide Leg Trousers also available at Monica & Joe
4. Dress: Olivia Rubin £139
5. Tropical Print Blazer: Valentine Gauthier £189
Burnt Orange Zipper Dress with Cut-Out Details: Valentine Gauthier £189
Naturally every item Monica and Joe chose was divine (Virginie Castaway is my new designer lust!), so much so that I was raring to go with my own S/S edit, and so here it is!
Monica B's Monica & Joe Hit List
The oh-so-tricky decision of what to chose!
1. Hot Pink Tailored Shorts: Cacharel: £209
I first fell in love with Cacharel when I interviewed Victoria Suffield, owner of Winchester-based boutique The Hambledon (readVictoria's interview here) in April 2011, at which time I was lucky enough to don one of their fabulous dresses for a T.E.A shoot. Cacharel always exceed in colour and fabric and these fantastic hot pink shorts below were just too good of a match with my jacket to pass by! I am such a fan of all things 'suit' at the moment - whether that be shorts, skirts or trousers - it feels so darn fresh! The great hot pink colour makes them an all-out winner!
2. Mint Ruffle Dress: Stella Forest £269
As Joe talked me through his and Monica's collection it became apparent that some pieces were absolute hands-down 'wow' items that women would treasure for a lifetime and wear 100+ times - this Stella Forest dress is just one of those pieces! From the ice-cream-fresh minty hue, to the delicate silk fabric and incredible crystal button details, this dress could (and I am sure will!) adorn the figure of any number of hip stylish women. I envisage it beautifully dressed down with tights, ballet pumps and a pea coat as much as I do dolled up to the nines with glittery heels and fantastic faux-fur stole. Unlimited options - oh the lust!
3. Tan Necklace Detail T: Valentine Gauthier £109
White Tailored Shorts also available at Monica&Joe
Around this time of year my thoughts begin to drift to sunnier climes and Summer holidays to come. I often spend time in Spain during the Summer where tanned limbs and endless beach bar nights are mandatory! These fantastic Valentine Gauthier separates are the ideal combination for looking relaxed yet polished and the built-in necklace accessorises your ensemble perfectly so you don't have to! Stylish innovation incarnate!
All in all Monica & Joe hosts a milieu of gorgeous designers who comfortably nestle along side each other in a manner which feels as if you have just stepped inside the wardrobe of a seriously stylish European lady. Having a flick through the Spring/Summer collection it was plain to see that Monica and hubby Joe are truly passionate about providing a product which their customers will adore as much as they do, and making the process of shopping in their online boutique as personal, and as much of a treat, as possible.
Spring/Summer will be that much more stylish for having Monica&Joe around!
2nd DAY, Ali Ro, AMbre Babzoe, Attic & Barn, Ba&sh, Blancs Manteaux, Bllack Noir, Bruuns Bazaar, By Marlene Birger, By Zoe, Cacharel, Daisy, DAY Birger et Mikkelsen, Designeres Remix, I love my t's, Madras, Margit Brandt, MiH, Marthe Plus Simonsen, Nobody Jeans, Pyrus, Sarah Wayne, Simeon Farrar, Stella Forest, Valentine Gauthier + More to come...
A big big thank you to Monica and Joe Wahla for being such gracious hosts and entertaining my 101 questions!! Thank you also to Tanya and her fantastic PR team for such a lovely event! And a big thank you too to my darling friend Hollie who so kindly accompanied me and made the endless taxi journeys in the pouring rain so much more fun : )!!
L-R: Monica Wahla, Monica B (yours truly!), Joe Wahla
Check out the Monica&Joe website here to peruse the beauty with your very own eyes!!
Me and the gorgeous Hollie Chapman
A Few More Snaps from the days' goings-on...
One of the incredible lights at the beautiful St James Hotel
Event attendees brushing up on their Monica&Joe know-how
Have a super evening all,
P.S. On a completely style based note I SO loved wearing pink and red!! Are you guys tempted to try some summer-time clashes...?! Let me know : )!!