Exquisite cashmere shawl name Lois Avery is a truly gorgeous independent brand, established by Jennie Hogg.
Jennie has been a social media friend of mine for several years now, so I was thrilled to be able to host this interview. A lovely, positive person possessing a brilliant eye for style, Jennie created Lois Avery in 2016; making the adventurous jump from her previous incarnation as a lawyer.
The enticing collection includes Classic, Animal Print, Pleat and Italian Days offerings, with these super-soft shawls adding everyday luxury to proceedings. Lois Avery’s first ever pop-up store, the Lois Avery Lounge, will be appearing on Saturday 25th March at the Haymarket Hotel in London from 2.15-4.45 pm. RSVP is essential, so do explore the Lois Avery site for more details.
Jennie’s business story is both inspirational and aptly stylish, and I’m excited to share our chat with you. Read on to find out more about Jennie, the Lois Avery journey and her Italian travel insight.
Tell us about how your beautiful business Lois Avery came to life?
The idea of Lois Avery came from my love of fashion and my love of Italy. It just occurred to me one day (after about 20 years of dreaming of a different career) that I could combine the two. I’ve had a lot of crazy ideas over the years, but Lois Avery just made sense and it is a simple business model that I can manage as a complete newbie in the world of fashion.
I am a big daydreamer so the brand was always going to have to be romantic and whimsical!
When did you first dream of setting up your own company?
I was unhappy in my job as a lawyer for some time. It took me a while to think outside of the ‘employee’ mind-set. The legal profession remains very conservative and for a long time I thought my escape route would be finding a new job within that industry. I have always been interested in fashion, and I remember reading a Career Profile in Stylist Magazine many years ago about a Fashion Lawyer. I thought it sounded pretty interesting and I explored possibilities, but I had no experience in that area of law, and it’s hard to start again when you have 3 children and a mortgage.
So I kept searching. Fashion was always a happy distraction. I discovered fashion blogs and through them made some wonderful friends. Over time some of these friends started setting up their own businesses. Well this was eye opening and certainly sowed a seed in my mind.
There’s a lovely family story behind the brand’s name, can you share it with us?
Naming your business is like naming a child – there has to be magic. However, unlike naming a child there are commercial considerations such as whether the domain is available and whether the name is already strongly connected with other businesses.
I started playing around with my children’s middle names, Bailey, Avery, and Hudson, and I did come up with a few options, but the domains were not available. My grandmother is a woman who meant so much to me and her life, which I plan to share more details of soon, was so inspiring. Her middle name was Lois! So in the end Lois Avery is a combination of my grandmother and my daughter and that just felt right.
Where do you gather most of your design inspiration from?
Travel is at the core of all of my inspiration. My grandmother travelled and she used to tell me wonderful stories of beaches in the Bahamas and nightclubs in Amsterdam! I have longed to see as much of the world as possible ever since.
I read travel books, travel magazines, and blogs at home, and when I can I visit Italy. Italy is the most wonderful source of inspiration – the way people dress, eat and live is so beautiful. One time I was lunching on a beach in Nerano when a woman sat down at the table next to me in the most magnificent sun hat. I still regret not asking where it was from and I still dream of that hat. Perhaps Lois Avery should make that hat!
Of course, our Animal Print was inspired by the coat of my dear friend’s beautiful Bengal Kitten, Mya.
What is your ultimate vision for Lois Avery?
I want Lois Avery to grow and be strong, and to be a positive brand. It would be interesting to explore other product lines when the time is right.
I would never want to lose the personal touch though because I believe that makes Lois Avery so special. I can’t tell you how many wonderful emails and messages I get telling me how much our cashmere is loved – this is what Lois Avery is about.
How do you like to relax when you’re not working?
I am really fortunate to live near the River Thames, and I love walking for hours along that river (usually the children are moaning “are we there yet?”, but I just love it). I also adore Petersham Nurseries for tea and cake on a Sunday afternoon. An hour within one of their greenhouses can feel like a holiday.
I know you’re a huge fan of travel- which destination is next on your wanderlust wishlist?
My list is more like a book! I would love to return to the island of Ponza which is a grown up destination with the best sunsets ever … no contest. Sicily: I want to see every corner of this amazing island. A travel tip recently had me dreaming of Scopello and I would love to see the baroque towns of Modica and Sicily. If I must pick somewhere outside of Italy then I would say Corsica.
All images c/o Jennie Hogg, Lois Avery.