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From The Desk Of… Collagerie Co-Founders Serena Hood And Lucinda Chambers

Countering the endless scroll that is online shopping, Collagerie is an e-comm platform unlike any other. The brainchild of London-based editors Lucinda Chambers and Serena Hood, Collagerie offers consumers a curated edit of fashion, interiors and lifestyle at every price point.

It’s tagline – “the one thing over everything” – rings true. And since widdling it down to just one purchase has never been our forte, we’ve called upon the Collagerie team to talk us through it. There’s nothing we don’t want; which is quite dangerous really.

From shopping habits to style trends and exploring the nuts and bolts of creating one of the most clickable online shopping sites in recent times, we’re ready and waiting deskside.


How do you start your days? 

Serena: With a green tea and breakfast with my children.

Lucinda: With a cup of lemon and ginger tea.

Lucinda Chambers. Photography by Kensington Leverne.

Lucinda Chambers. Photography by Kensington Leverne.

What’s your go-to uniform? 

S: Pre-lockdown, it would be rare to find me in anything but a floral dress, but these days I tend to gravitate towards more casual items – a great pair of jeans with a cosy cardigan and blouse.

L: I don’t really have a uniform, as I love to change things up but earrings are always involved.

Describe your workspace/ workplace…

S: We have a small office in west London, it’s bright and colourful and almost now feels like my home away from home.

L: Our Collagerie office is near both our homes which is great. It’s lovely, light and white with colourful lamps, vases and chairs.

Define your aesthetic…

S: I would say it’s a mix of feminine with a nod to east-coast preppy.  I am from New York City after all!

L: I would say I’m eclectic. I love colour, print and  textiles as well as clothes; it’s the mix that excites me.

Identify something in your workspace that’s special to you (and why)…

S: A picture of my children.

L: I love our rug from The Rug Company. It’s graphic and green and very bold, it was one of the first things we put down here.

What are your workplace essentials?

S: My very own Papier x Collagerie notebook (I’m constantly taking notes both on and off Zoom calls) and am never far from a cup of coffee.

L: My very messy desk and I have to say, I’m mad about our coffee machine – which is a first for me!

What time of day are you at your most creative?

S: I don’t really think you ever switch off when you have your own business, except for when you’re asleep.

L: I feel creative most of the time, but sometimes you want divine inspiration and at others you have to work at it, and that’s all right.

What’s your go to lunch order?

S: Lucinda and I love Adriana’s café which is around the corner, even in lockdown they have freshly made meals you can take away. The fishcakes are my favourite!

L: …And if we are feeling treaty there is the most wonderful Syrian café in the Portobello Road that Serena and I both love. I would eat their bowls every day if left to my own devices.

 

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What is the most rewarding part of the job?

S: I just love hearing from our community… what excites them, what they’ve discovered on our site and how Collagerie has changed the way they shop.  What could be a bigger reward than that?

L: What I love about Collagerie is no two days are the same. But I have to say, when people email to say that they love our site, and that they find it inspiring and uplifting, that’s’ really great and very rewarding.

And the most challenging?

S: I wouldn’t call it a challenge, but starting your own business can bring curveballs you don’t anticipate. Lucinda and I are lucky to have friends who are also founders themselves, who have been in the game longer than us, and are amazing with advice and help when we need them.

L: Learning new things is always challenging but probably the most satisfying. It would be all the things we have learnt around starting your own business; it’s a never ending learning curve but that’s what keeps the brain ticking over.

If you were to write a two-line job spec for yourself, it would read as follows…

S: A multitasker, who loves to assemble teams, to deliver a beautiful, inspiring and exceptionally executed product.

L: Someone who is obsessed by product and design and wants to share all that… enter here.

What did you study in school/ university?

S: I studied History of Art & Sociology at Georgetown University in Washington DC.

L: I went to Hornsey Collage of Art for two minutes, then I got into fashion.

Where are you from originally?

S: New York City, we then moved to London when I was eight years old.

L: London.

What was your first job?

S: I was a sales assistant on the shop floor at Abercrombie & Fitch as a part time job while I was at Georgetown. When I graduated, I moved to New York to work in merchandising at Marc Jacobs.

L: Working in a newsagent when I was 13.

Serena Hood. Photography by Kensington Leverne.

Serena Hood. Photography by Kensington Leverne.

What first sparked your interest in fashion?

S: My mother used to take me to Portobello Road every Saturday morning, we would spend hours trawling the vintage stalls and designers selling their crafts.

L: Making clothes with my mother, seeing what she wore. She loved clothes and made me some great ‘outfits’, they always were pretty cool.

Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?

S: Throughout my career there have been some amazing women you have guided me along the way, from NY to London.  You know who you are and you have inspired me to also do my part in helping a new generation of young aspiring professionals.

L: The first person was Grace Coddington, she taught me how to build a picture, but my first real boss was Beatrix Miller, editor of Vogue for many years who taught me to be organised.  She said I had too much ‘furniture’ in my head!

What were some hurdles you had to overcome when starting out?

S: I was a fashion assistant at US Vogue early in my career and learned how to navigate around the word “no”, always trying to find a solution around any problem.  I’ll never forget hand delivering a couture dress to set in the middle of a huge snowstorm.  It felt very satisfying.

L: Money was always very tight in my first job, luckily I lived in a squat so could save money that way, but making ends meet was challenging at the beginning.

What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?

S: It’s a team effort and always be ready to listen to others.

L: To have great partners.

The best advice you’ve ever received…

S: Don’t give up until you’re 100% happy with the outcome, no matter how tempting the easy way might seem.

L: From my mother about getting in touch with people or reaching out or asking for stuff – she used to say ‘they can’t eat you!”

What are you working on right now?

S: Our Collagerie x Penelope Chilvers collaboration launch.

L: Christmas table settings! Love it.

 

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What’s next for Collagerie?

S: To continue to inspire and delight the shopping experience across the world!

L: To reach wider audiences; everyone needs Collagerie in their life.

*Feature image by Nick Pope.

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