The first word that springs to mind on interacting with Rebecca Glenapp
, founder of achingly hip fashion retail site Lux Fix is ‘fun’. Even from the very first email arranging to meet in the auspicious surroundings of a private members club in the heart of Soho, I can tell I’m going to enjoy this interview; ‘I’ll have a rolled up copy of the FT under my arm… and a mysterious smile,’ she says, and I have to say my initial instincts prove to be correct, but there’s another word I have to add to ‘fun’ and that’s nice, nice and then some - yes Glenapp’s half American heritage has served her well, because if there is anything this founder can help you with – she’ll go out of her way to do it.
More cynical souls might ponder the quid pro quo; is she after a good write up? But then I spot her, sitting at another table at another meeting, the same bright smile lighting up her extremely pretty face, the same intense gaze fixed on her subject. Glenapp it seems isn’t after anything; she’s simply one of life’s givers.
One who has spent the last couple of years setting up Lux Fix; a destination domain for the time poor career girl; a retail site set apart by three quite magical USP’s – the first it targets the ‘every woman’; Glenapp and co-founder Alice Hastings-Bass are intent on opening up the often closed doors of fashion; ‘It’s been super exciting to bring that feeling of being a fashion insider even if you’re not working in the fashion industry. That’s the voice of Luxfix - that’s what we’re trying to do.’
The second, that fashion shouldn’t break the bank – even fashion of the luxe designer kind; hence the myriad of discounts available to members (up to 30% in some cases); ‘We’re saying, look, it’s a recession, we understand that,’ she says. ‘We want you to engage with us, we know we’ve got to give you a bit of an edge… We both believe in a ‘club’ (in the original sense of the word); you get something out of being part of it.’
This is certainly a club I want to join, which brings me to the third and final USP; Glenapp and Hastings-Bass have set about building relationships with some uber hip, cutting edge designers and (with their very real powers of persuasion) convinced them to give Lux Fix an exclusive and very direct line into their studios, with images, interviews and personally curated collections aplenty.
But how on earth did they convince designers such as Pringle of Scotland
, Lara Bohnic and Kat Maconie to open up their studios? ‘We had to make it an interesting proposition; we’re basically working as marketing for them – they’re happy to be engaging directly with the customers, and giving these one-off deals. Because they’re very short-lived, it works really nicely from a gaining perspective, because it’s like “Get it or lose out”.
This is no fluffy fashion enterprise; ‘We were approaching this from a business perspective;’ Glenapp says confidently, ‘We’re saying [to the designers], “Look, we know who the end consumer is, we know who you want to reach, and this is how we can use technology to drive more people to your site and market you effectively online…”
Further the co-founders revere their consumers; ‘They’re very sophisticated. If you send them a newsletter that is just “offer, offer, offer”, they’re going to unsubscribe. We have Dita von Teese giving us her style guide; we have Alexandra Shulman giving us her costume jewellery wardrobe; that’s so important. It’s the sophisticated consumer who we’re aiming at; you need to have exciting content.’
Fascinating stuff, endemic perhaps of why the site is on a stratospheric ascent; but how in the past twelve months have the co-founders managed to facilitate such a coup on the world of fashion retail? ‘We went out there with a very, kind of, “don’t take no for an answer” attitude, but I think we could have been even more like that. If you’re starting up a concept, you’ve tested it, and you have faith in it, there’s no harm in aiming for the top straightaway.’
Fighting talk indeed; no surprise then that Glenapp and Hastings-Bass both left high powered jobs (in strategy consultancy and investment banking respectively) to launch the site, ‘We literally invested our life savings… Sometimes you do feel sick,’ she laughs. ‘If we were going to create a new brand that had global potential in fashion, we couldn’t do it part-time. We had to rationalise it; in my case, if I was doing a postgraduate MBA, it would be incredibly expensive, and I’d be out of the game for one or two years. So I was like, this is my version of an MBA. This is my entrepreneur’s MBA.’
An MBA and then some, one that will soon be bringing some serious profits Glenapp’s way. But what are her ambitions for the site – I dread to bring up the N word [Net-a-Porter], but is that the ultimate goal? ‘That’s always the dream for anybody. They’ve set the bar… But what they can’t do, is what we can do. Everything goes through them; through their brand. They have amazing buyers but everything goes through the Net-a-Porter filter. What we can do is open that right up. Go with the voice of the designers.’
As the interview continues, Glenapp and I wade with gusto into the murky waters of women and business, on the topic she’s refreshingly candid; 'The whole issue of marriage stuff, it annoys me – completely an aside,’ she laughs, ‘but I sometimes see these biographies of women, and it’s like: "She’s married with two children and lives in Hammersmith." It’s like, "Really? How is that relevant?" When do you ever see that on a guy’s biography?"
The only challenge I feel is this assumed weirdness,’ she continues, ‘that you can’t “juggle” a career and be a mother. It’s what everybody’s been doing since time immemorial. Everyone juggles! It’s what you do when you wake up in the morning!’
Hilarious, vocal, opinionated, I have to say Glenapp is a riot to interview; ‘fun’ barely scratches the surface of this savvy, business-orientated entrepreneur. She wants to bring women together in the name of fashion, heck she wants to bring women together in general; ‘Next week, I’m meeting a woman I read about,’ she says, ‘I just wrote to her to say that “I loved your interview”, and she’s like, “Fantastic”. I think it’s amazing; women are so keen to help you. They say, “Please, let’s meet, what can I do for you?” It’s just feels so good, and then when you meet them you feel “Wow! Fantastic!” I love them.’
Suddenly Glenapp is called away; her next meeting beckoning from across the hallway. She rushes off – but not before throwing a few contacts my way, as well as a genius parting soundbite, ‘The thing about this industry; it serves very specific people. So we want to open it up, make it exciting, make it accessible. Give everybody a reason to engage directly with the designers they buy from.’
Interview by Alice Kahrmann