This month got to talk to Michelle Jones, owner of www.style-tonic.ie, an online business which I have admired since it’s inception. Providing online access to some of the country’s best boutiques and designers, I wanted to know all about the latest web-shop!
1) Tell me about your background and what the catalyst was for setting up style-tonic?
My own career background is in marketing and I’ve studied both traditional and digital / online marketing. I am fascinated by digital and how quickly developments happen and the rapid speed at which the likes of Facebook, Twitter etc grow. Before I set-up STYLE-TONIC.COM I was working in a marketing role in advertising agency and was let go from that position. At the time, I was in planning stages for the business, however, didn’t have any set date to start and when I was let go from my job I thought it would be a good time to give things a go. I always appreciated more niche labels and vintage as opposed to high-street which is why I went down the route of working with boutiques. Digital marketing itself really is very different to traditional marketing and the whole online world is a completely different space to a bricks and mortar set-up. The majority of boutiques are excellent and buying and working one to one with customers but to run a web-store well on top of that is not realistic for many from a resource point of view – both financial and human – which is where the idea for STYLE-TONIC.COM was born.
2) What makes the business model for style-tonic different from some of its online counterparts?
Customers are getting the benefit of the taste of lots of different buyers which offers a wider variety of stock to shoppers. There are also some Irish designers coming on board soon that are not currently available online which will offer shoppers some online exclusives.
3) There are some great boutiques and labels available on the site, can you tell us about some of them?
There’s a great mix of boutiques on the site at the moment. We have Indigo & Cloth which is a really special place located in a basement store on South William Street. Garrett Pitcher owns and runs the store and is so passionate about what he does which is evident in the space. What I love about the store is every time you go in there’s something a little different in terms of layout and merchandising and always in a really cool and understated way. They also stock an amazing range of fashion titles that aren’t really available in Ireland. We also have Costume and the Design Centre which are probably two of the most established boutiques in the country and have been around for years. Costume has some amazing labels like Isabel Marant, RM by Roland Mouret, Temperley London, Tadashi Shoji and Proenza Schouler. Design Centre have a super collection of both Irish and international designers like John Rocha, Claire O’Connor, Lee Klabin, La Petite S*****, Erickson Beamon and the most amazing collection of Philip Treacy hats that you’ll ever see! If you have a really special event or wedding to go to Costume and Design Centre are a must, not to mention the super bunch of girls working in both stores. We also have Anastasia in Ranelagh stocking Catherine Malandrino, M Missoni and Pauric Sweeney – another great boutique to visit if you have an event coming up. We recently started working direct with some designers and labels as well which saw cult knitwear label Electronic Sheep come on board with their collection of super-cool scarves (my favourite being the candy strip triangle scarf). Joanne Hynes has added her accessories collection to the site for spring and the butterfly pendant is simply stunning. What I love about the Joanne Hynes pieces is the craftsmanship; all the pieces are handmade which beautiful detail.
4) You must see some amazing clothes! Which pieces have been your favourites and the most popular?
Yes lots! This seasons my favourites are the Dagmar white silk blazer, Temperley London lace mini dress, Joanne Hynes butterfly pendant, Erickson Beamon skull necklace and I adore the Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair wide-sleeved cardigan. The site has only been live since December so it’s too early to say what’s the most popular items are as there has been such a broad mix in terms of sales but people are definitely loving the accessories.
5) Personally, what are your views on fashion and Ireland? Are we a competitive nation in the style stakes?
When I think about style or people who I admire for their personal style I would never really think about what nationality they are. Some people just have it irrespective of where they are from. For me, style is personal and encompasses so much more than what you wear, it’s about how you wear it, your taste, interests, personality and because it’s so personal I don’t think it should ever be a competition between the nations. What looks amazing on one person could look ridiculous on another. There are definitely countries that have a stronger association with fashion than others. When you think of stylish nations the first that spring to most minds would be the obvious such as Paris, Milan or London. I don’t think Ireland will ever have that first to mind association with style but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have some seriously cool people who know how to dress. Our style is a little more down to earth and we definitely have our own thing going on that’s not really definable and we don’t try to be something that we are not – that I love.
6) Women are now so much more cost conscious these days, how do you think their spending habits have evolved?
Thanks to a small number of greedy individuals we are all going to have to be more cost conscious for a long time and spending habits in terms of buying clothes have definitely evolved. I think a lot of people are investing well in a good capsule collection and building a season’s wardrobe around that. A lot of women are also borrowing from friends for weddings or events rather than buying something new. Personally, I would prefer to buy one or two really good well-made pieces per season that I’ll have for years to come than have lots of less expensive items that won’t last that long. The good news for us is that more and more women are becoming more comfortable buying more expensive items online.
7) If you could have any item of clothing, what would it be? What do you covet!!!
It’s difficult to think of just one item! At this moment in time, the first that springs to mind is a Chloe nude silk jacket.
8) What is your favourite item in your wardrobe at the moment? Are you a follower of trends, or do you create your own?
I love my Michael Kors oversized chronograph watch which I got as a birthday gift, it’s the only bit of ‘bling’ that I own! I’ve never really followed trends but definitely don’t create them either! If I like something and it makes me feel good I wear it.
9) What’s next for style-tonic?
At the moment we are working on building up the boutique and designer portfolio as well as the current accessories collection. Smock boutique in Drury Street will be on board very soon as well as milliner John Shevlin and the recent addition of Joanne Hynes was fantastic. There will be lots more additions to the site in terms of functionality on the way soon!
10) Finally, fashion weeks have started, what would you like to see come into fashion for A/W 11?
I really don’t follow trends so that’s a difficult question to answer. If I like something I wear it regardless of whether it’s in fashion or not so there’s nothing I’d like to see come into fashion as such. It would be nice to see some colour though!
Log onto www.style-tonic.ie