With the very first Global Kids Fashion Week launching in London on March 18-20, CLB caught up with Alex Theophanous, the founder of luxury kidswear website Alexandalexa.com, and man behind it all
|Alex Theophanous with his sons|
'I’m Alex and my wife is Alexa. We started in 2007. At the time I had my first boy and I was working at Coca Cola and I felt ready to try something different. I knew I wanted to start my own business. Online was the greatest opportunity for any business. The women’s market was saturated but I found the children’s area was underdeveloped – the idea of taking my boys up to town to shop filled me with dread. I started it alone, put my house as security and found some investors. We had ten brands on board including Ralph Lauren who was exclusive. The first day I started I opened up to 65 countries and started shipping globally.'
Was it an overnight success?
'For me success is about controlled success. We were growing at about 150 per cent a year so we were able to control it and recruit the right people. We are a multimillion pound business now. Seventy percent of out business is international and 30 per cent UK. We started at the top of the pack: with labels such as Cavalli, Fendi and Burberry and now we are now looking at brands like Geox shoes and Nike sportswear. We also do toys like Lego.'
What’s your criteria for a top brand?
'It’s a judgement call for us. There are two things we look at. A brand either has to be an anchor brand: which means it’s well-known in that market. There are lots of benefits: Lego, Nike, Burberry – they are the growth pillars of the business. Or it needs to be a contemporary brand that's of the now, quite cool and has something unique about it.'
How have you remained recession proof?
'I think there’s a few things. Exposing the business internationally, not relying on any one market, has obvious benefits. Not having the overheads of a store: security, shutters, tills and so on. Being clear of what you are as a business and having a plan. We have really defined the proposition that is us. We are very clear on how we present our products.'
'The Mona Lisa Disney characters of last year. In toys we have the Princess of the Pea toy and it just sells out again and again. We cannot get enough of it. We have a really cool Micro-Scooter with a Samsonite suitcase which turned into a scooter. It was really interesting and unique and it sold really well for us.'
Tell us about Global Kids Fashion Week
'We created a mini concept around a catwalk for kids. We knew there was a demand for the public to see what was up and coming. Today, the market has changed. There’s a real interest in kids’ designer fashion – most luxury brands now have a kidswear range, everybody is doing kids stuff. It seems the right moment now. It can appear a pretty inaccessible market and we want to make it more accessible and say "It’s for you!".'
How many brands are going to be on the catwalk?
'About thirty brands including Little Marc Jacobs, John Galliano Kids, Paul Smith Junior and Chloe. There will be two shows; one of the Tuesday for press and celebrities showing autumn/winter 2013 and one of the Wednesday for the public showing spring/summer 2013 – that will be for families and children to attend. There will be lots of play zones and we are working with a combination of model agencies and dance troupes, something to make it a bit fun so we are going to create some interesting concepts. There will be some surprises!'
Buy tickets for March 20, 4.30pm-7.30pm, from £16.50 for children and £33.50 for adults online here
Proceeds will go to The Kids Company