Marie-Soudre-Richard is a pioneer and a key person in the children’s fashion&design industry. Four years ago, after having spent 8 years in London in marketing, she started the famous e-store LFG. CEO ofwww.littlefashiongallery.com + www.mediumfashiongallery.com, mother of Paul 5 and Jacques 4 months, Marie generously answered a long list of questions, painting a personal portrait as well as presenting her business viewpoint, full of great tips and advice.
Marie, tell us about yourself…
How would you describe your personal style Simple, minimalist – I love fashion though I am more a white tee/denim girl!
What inspires you at the moment My sons – I am just all over them – find them soooo clever and unique!!
Which living person do you most admire and why on a personal level – he is my balance – we went through difficult times with LFG – managing the growth, an investor, the competition, being tired – and he is our stabilizer! On a business level, Natalie Massenetfrom net-a-porter – I always learn something when we talk – she is inspirational – after 10 years in this business, she still enjoys it very much!
Your favorite cities in the world Paris because this is where I live, London because this is where I started my carreer and had a immensely happy life with my husband – we didn’t have the kids yet, we used to earn a very decent life and just enjoy the city and the friends – brits are very good party goers you know! and then New York of course – I came back there a lot last year as we opening LFG inc , our US branch – I love the beat of the city, the energy is immense.
Any interesting to do with kids in Paris? Ateliers Tok Tok au Palais de Tokyo – we organized some workshops recently with the little Supereditions books (http://www.littlefashiongallery.com/fr/mode-enfant/editions-supereditions/) – the turn around was double as usual and kids seemed to really have fun – the people are very kind and patient!
Your favorite bedtime reading Bonbek and Anorak – hours of fun!
Your favorite movie to watch with the whole family Les 400 coups Truffaut – we chose la Nouvelle Vague as our theme for our Little fashion Book vol 6!
Your favorite possession in your home A rascasse (fish) de Vallauris
Jacques&Paul, The Rascasse fish, Paul in a LFG Ad Campaign
Last item added to your child’s wardrobe A Finger in the nose puffy jacket…the right item for the current cold cold weather
Best gift you bought or made for a child’s B-day La pêche à la ligne Egmont
The book on your bedside table Les Bulles de Claire Castillon – she is my best and closest friend – she is Paul’s godmother – her writing is very incisive and caustic
The music in your ipodCaroline de Maigret’s compilation – she is my friend – we went at school together – she founded bonus tracks records – I don’t know anything about music and she just creates playlist – it makes me feel uber cool!
Favorite stores Dover street market in London of course!
Favorite museums Pompidou (Beaubourg) in Paris, The Tate Modern in London
Favorite place for family holidays We are 4 couples with 10 kids and we rent a house together every year – so I would say anywhere with a little bit of sunshine as long as we are all together (ah and lots of wine as well!!)
What do you prize most in lifeMy husband and kids! What else?
How you would you dress if you were a 8 years old girl Hi hi, I love this question – my mum would want me in Finger in the nose jeans, Tuss white T, AgnèsB black gilet and a pair of Start rite… I would say yes to all but add April Showers glitter skirts, Fäfä Tokyo
Marie, now let’s speak about your business
I opened LFG in November 2006 – we were the first concept store for children on the web – we started with 14 brands and have expended to 200! I was fascinated by the net-a-porter business model – I was first to come up with this concept – we have paved the way to lots of websites surfing on this concept… which is very encouraging. To stay ahead of the game we remain loyal to the initial vision. Little Fashion Gallery is a brand in itself; we always make sure that we value the equity of this brand. We love all the brands that we sell – 200 is a lot but they all bring something different to the website. Our style is quite eclectic because we are international. We don’t want to impose a specific style on our visitors, because we believe this in line with what they like and are: one day boho chic, the next just natural, sometimes edgy, sometimes just relaxed! Our greater achievement – having the biggest offer online whilst remaining accessible. Also, I always wanted LFG to become a brand to ensure that the smaller brands we believe in could get exposure thanks to us. One of our best success story is Lili & the funky boys; you can’t imagine how much we sell every season yet the brand is very young and edgy. Esther (the founder) has an impressive fashion background having worked for Isabel Marrant. She knows what she is doing !
What more can you tell me about the brands you carry in your store? A third are exclusive or offer us exclusive designs or capsule collections – Finger in the Nose is one of the strongest – again we work hard on this partnership!
What children’s trade shows do you visit? Playtime, Pitti mainly
Your favorite website related to children Apart from LFG : www.bonpoint-boutique.com – we manage it!!
Your favorite magazines related to children All of them of course. Milk was first; they have a style, Isis-Colombe is a very driven women, she knows what she is doing. Doolittle offers a complimentary alternative. I like the fact that they don’t copy each other. Papier Maché is about to go to print – the online version is very nice. For online magazines I like Babiekinsmag.com – they do an amazing job – and I am on p 121 or their last issue!
What would you say about the general economical climate ? We are going through a rather difficult period … small brands are struggling to grow and bigger brands are trying to avoid risks and therefore come up with risk-less collections. Our job at LFG is to try to create an exciting selection and get the best out of the market keeping a global view on trends… it seems that the European market has always been more creative when it comes to this very specific niche that is the high-end children’s market… saying that brands like Wovenplay have this crazyness. I just hope they will manage to raise funds to keep this freedom!
What inspires you at the moment? The boyish trend … I love this blog http://www.turnedout.tv/ – and for children I think this is an easy trend to adapt!
Have you seen children’s stores that you liked recently? I loveElias and Gracein London – otherwise, I can’t really say that I have been impressed by a new concept recently!
Anything you can think of that is missing in the current children’s product offer? NO – there is already too much – STOP !!!!!
An advice for young entrepreneurs in the children’s industry?Be intuitive though work on your numbers… talent and style is one thing – money is key!
An advice for retailers? The same – the more you sell, the more cash you need – and if people tell you otherwise they are lying! We very soon realized that we would need help if we wanted to reach a critical size – we have a shareholder in our capital – they are supportive though very demanding – they want to earn money with our business as much we do – the pressure is high!