After working in fashion retail for 6 years, Lauren is now successfully running her own boutique store with her mum, Rose, after opening LOLO + CO in July 2019. She is so passionate about bringing something different to Aberdeen and making high quality brands accessible to everyone, no matter what your age or style is.
We caught up with Lauren to find out what she loves about running a business, her favourite fashion items, and the story behind LOLO + CO...
Tell us a little about your business…
“LOLO + CO is a family run boutique, stocking fashion brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, French Connection and Gant to give people something that’s in between high street and high end. When I asked my auntie to help me pull together a bio for abz.life and we actually reflected on who we are as a brand, we really thought that it’s so true in saying that there’s something for each generation in our shop. I don’t think there are a lot of shops like it at the moment, which makes us that little bit different.
“My mum and I run the business together, so I’m in the shop most days while my mum does a lot of the behind the scenes aspects of running the business, such as the invoices and accounting. We also have two girls who work for us in the shop, so it’s a lovely little gang of us working together.”
Why did you start your business?
“I’ve always wanted to work for myself - I liked the idea of having my own business and having something to strive towards in my job. In my family there are a couple of engineering businesses, so I think because I’ve grown up around family businesses it’s always been something that I’ve looked to do, and it became a goal for me.”
“We felt that for women, it’s always either high end or high street fashion that’s available - there’s never anything in between. When you look at what men have got in terms of fashion brands here in Aberdeen, you’ve got places like Signature, Cruise and Kafka. But for women, there weren’t many options like that, or places that would appeal to every generation. That was definitely missing in Aberdeen and so we wanted to create something different and bring in brands that other shops in Aberdeen didn’t really have for women.
“We had thought about opening LOLO + CO for ages, but we didn’t know whether it was a bit of a gamble. We chatted to different people asking what they thought and honestly, the response we got was amazing, so many people were loving the idea of having a boutique that still keeps some designer brands but nothing that was too high end.”
What do you love most about your job?
“I love hearing our customers’ feedback. Whenever someone says that they love the shop, or the products they’ve bought from us, or they can’t wait to come back and tell their friends - it’s such a good feeling. It makes me feel like I’ve fulfilled something.
“I also love meeting different people all the time. Now that I’ve got regulars coming in, they’ll be asking after me on the days I’m not there, which is lovely. We get such a mixture of customers as well - there will be some customers that are my age, some that are my mum’s age or people in between and older, which I love. I think it helps that we’re very laid back for a boutique store - people can come in and have a look without someone pushing them to buy something.”
What’s your favourite brand that you stock?
“I love all of the brands that we have but I think my personal favourite would be Gant. That’s the one brand that I was a bit skeptical about at the start and was unsure if our customers would buy from it, but I absolutely love it now.
“There’s so much variety in what they do and every time we get new stock from them I just love the whole rail. I think because it’s so versatile that anyone, no matter what their style is or what age they are, could pick up something from the range that we have. We have a cable knit jumper from Gant and that’s been an absolute hit with our customers.”
How would you describe your personal style?
“I would say I’m the most casual person when it comes to my style! If I could get away with it, I would go on a night out in jeans and trainers. Don’t get me wrong, I do like to get dressed up in a nice dress or a playsuit but I would say I’m very smart casual in what I love to wear, as opposed to being really glam. My go-to look, whether it’s for a weekday, the weekend or even for meetings is a plain t-shirt, my jeans or my leather trousers and a blazer.”
What are the three fashion items you think everyone should have?
“One of them has got to be a blazer. It doesn’t matter what colour or what fabric - a blazer is perfect for any occasion. Whether you want to wear it casual, for work or a night out, it’s something you can dress up or down so that’s my absolute number one item.
“For number two, I would probably have to say a really good pair of skinny jeans. I like a black pair but no matter what colour you prefer, a really decent pair of skinny jeans that fit you well and that will last you is definitely an essential I would say.
“Lastly, I would say a jumpsuit. We’ve got a few jumpsuits in the shop that have been really popular - I think because it’s one of those items that you can dress up or down and it’s very easy to wear.”
How do you decide which brands to stock?
“Because we’re a boutique, our products are for people who would be looking to spend a bit of money on high quality brands. However we also have brands like French Connection which is a bit closer to high street prices, so there is actually something for everyone.
“We like to stock brands that are a bit different to what other places sell, so we always look at what other boutiques and department stores in Aberdeen are stocking and bounce off that. I think you see a lot of luxury boutiques that focus on party wear, so we wanted to bring in brands that have more casual or workwear - something that’s for every day rather than an occasion.
“When we’re choosing which brands to have stocked, we make sure that there’s something to suit everyone, no matter how old you are or if you’re looking for something smart or casual. For some brands that we have, there will be items on the rail that I love and some that I personally wouldn’t wear myself, or there will be some things that my mum loves but I’m not so keen on and vice versa. You can’t just pick your wardrobe - you’ve got to pick for your customers as well.
“We’ve also become good friends with Signature Menswear and work really well with them when it comes to finding brands to stock. If they have a brand that a lot of their male customers are coming in to buy and their wives are saying they wish there was somewhere that stocked that brand for women, that helps us in our decision making and considering which brands to look at.”
Why are you so passionate about what you do?
“I think because it doesn’t feel like work for me, it’s just something that I enjoy doing. One thing I’m passionate about is getting to know our customers. We’ve always strived to do more of that, so seeing people coming back, getting to know their names and who they are gives me a sense of achievement.”
What’s been your biggest achievement so far?
“I think the biggest achievement is getting those returning customers. We’ve not even been trading for a year yet so we still feel like we’re very new and have so far to go, but when we get lovely feedback from our customers and people coming back again and again, it’s lovely. Our launch night was such a buzz and getting such good feedback and regular customers in a short space of time after that has been amazing. I’m very grateful for that.”
What’s your advice for someone thinking about starting a business in Aberdeen?
“Just go for it and don’t hold back! When we came together as a family and decided to start the business, we agreed that if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, we’ll just try it and see how it goes! I would definitely say that you’ve got to be motivated, but just go for it because there’s nothing stopping you, and if you don’t try then you’ll never know.”
What’s been the most exciting or rewarding part of running your own business?
“Our launch night was amazing! We didn’t expect how big the turnout was going to be. We had Society and Trend in the shop with their big cameras, asking to get photos of me and my mum - it was such a buzz!
“I would also say that it’s really exciting when we get a new supplier. We’ve taken on two new suppliers recently and it’s very much one meeting, you go in and see what they’ve got and build a partnership from there - that’s really exciting to me as well!”
What are your favourite local businesses right now and why?
“I’ve got to say Signature Menswear - one, because they’ve become our friends, but secondly when you shop there the service is just so good as well! You go in and get a one-to-one, you get some chat from them and they’ll go 110% for you.
“The Corner Tree Cafe and their Treehouse homeware section - we’ve been in for coffee and food there which is always lovely and all the items they sell in are absolutely stunning.
“I also have to mention The Beauty Den - Emma lives just down the road so we’ve got to know her and she’s just absolutely lovely, and so passionate about what she does!”