After a successful career in retail, Lucy Knights decided to take the plunge and start her own business after the birth of her second child. We asked Lucy to share her story, divulge her social media tips and select her favourite wardrobe essentials.
How did your career in fashion begin?
Ever since I was 16 and got my first part-time job in a fashion boutique, I’ve always been drawn back to retail. I love the buzz and how every day is different. Following my Business Degree in Sheffield, I moved to London to complete a Retail Management graduate scheme. I then became a manager for GAP’s flagship on Oxford Street before moving over to Harrods and spending eight years working with them on driving their womenswear sales and strategy. After always dreaming about having my own business, I finally took the big step of launching BORN AT DAWN after having my second child.
BORN AT DAWN brings focused, effortless style with a personal touch. Mostly Scandinavian and French inspired brands, it offers an alternative from the mainstream as our pieces aren’t widely available and are more exclusive. Our collection is made up of beautiful, easy-to-wear wardrobe heroes that are versatile and can be worn multiple times and in different ways, taking you from day-to-night. We also offer a “Night In” experience in selected areas of London where you can book an evening for us to bring the collection to you, meaning you can shop with your friends in the luxury of your own home.
You’re really embracing social media to promote your business online. Have you got any tips for aspiring businesswomen?
I love social media especially Instagram. I have met and keep in touch with so many women through it that inspire me every day. When I first started planning for BORN AT DAWN I started attending (and still do attend) networking groups such as Mothers Meeting and Southwood Social Hub. They both have a big focus on social media so once you meet someone at one, it’s easy to keep in contact with them through Instagram. This is something that helps me enormously – whether I’m pinging a DM to someone for advice on something, collaborating with people on projects, it’s incredible to have met so many lovely supportive women in similar situations – I never feel alone despite working solo a lot.
I love interacting with followers and they were hugely influential in how I set up the business. I often asked questions on my Instagram account to get feedback on certain decisions in the planning stages. For instance: “What are you wearing today?”, “What’s the most worn piece in your wardrobe?”, “What’s your top style tip?”, “Where do you buy most of your clothes and why?”. I wanted to create a collection that really suited busy women’s real lives and offer a service that really suited them.
In terms of creating content for my account. I really planned who my target customer was and what her life looked like/what she was interested in. I then centred it around that. I always asked myself – would she enjoy reading this? Is it of value to her?
I’ve only recently launched and I have a lot more to learn about the business side of online marketing but in terms of raising awareness, making sales and interacting with my target customer, Instagram in particular has been great. I think something I need to work on now I’ve launched, is how to balance social media with the realities of running a business. When I’m dealing with customers, stock, orders, buying appointments, accounts and a million other things, it’s been hard at times to give my social media the attention it is so important it receives. It’s early days but I am sure I will get there and create some balance.
LUCY’S TOP WARDROBE PICKS
STATEMENT LEATHER JACKET
Perfect for giving a plain outfit an effortlessly cool, luxury feel. We have a great black leather and suede one on the site (both by MINIMUM), but if you’re looking for one that makes a statement but is still timeless – this Mads Norgaard leopard print biker jacket is fantastic.
It’s worth investing in a good quality trench coat as it’s something you can bring out year after year and makes any outfit look chic. I saw so many on my buying appointments, but this one by Samsoe & Samsoe was my favourite by a mile – the material is so soft so it hangs nicely and is really comfortable to wear.
A great fitting plain t-shirt is so useful for layering with everything. Our Perfect tee is made from Pima cotton, it fits really well, comes in three colours (black/white/grey) and only costs £15.
You can’t go wrong with Breton for a pared back feel that never goes out of style. Look at pictures of Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot in the sixties – the look still feels so fresh and relevant today. I looked long and hard to find the perfect Breton stripe tops and Mads Norgaard do it best for basic styles to invest in – they’ve been perfecting theirs for over 30 years and this particular style is 100% organic sustainable cotton.
We love boyfriend jeans with a plain t-shirt and trainers or sandals/sliders for a relaxed daytime look or with heels and a blazer for a smarter feel – they are really versatile. This pair by 2nd DAY are to the ankle and we like the mid wash denim as not too dark or too light/distressed.
For the days when you just want to be wearing leggings – these give you the comfort of leggings but look a lot better. This pair by SELECTED FEMME are super soft and high-rise so no unsightly lines and they suck you in a little too. Everyone who’s tried them, loves them.
Jumpsuits are perfect for if you are busy as they are a ready-made outfit. You can still give them different looks depending on what shoes and accessories you wear and how you layer them. This jumpsuit by Numph is wide legged and cropped and has a loose top section so it’s easy to wear, lies nicely and doesn’t cling.
A good shirt is a fantastic wardrobe staple to wear with jeans or tailored trousers/chinos. This army green one by Maison Scotch is a classic and the material feels super luxe so it’s worth investing in.
Stacey Duguid recently wrote in The Pool about how a “posh top” with jeans was a perfect go-to outfit for an evening out when you want to look nice but still be comfortable and not too overdressed. This one by French brand Suncoo would look great during the day or on holiday too.
Lucy is following…
Hayley Southwood @hjsouthwood: she’s supportive, positive and is always championing other women. I’m part of Southwood Social Hub, her network to inspire and empower women in business and it really is great.
Kelly from @cultofyouth: her posts are always beautiful and often make me cry. She always speaks from the heart and has a beautiful way with words.
Clemmie @mother_of_daughters: she amazes me with how she juggles four children, a job as a midwife and still finds time to share it all on Instagram, talk regularly at events and not to mention write a book! She is just ridiculously lovely in real life too.