Hello ! Welcome to LoullyMakes Matters...a blog of sorts that might entertain, educate or surprise its readers (and possibly its authors too ! )
As a gentle introduction, I thought you might want to find out a little about the people behind these chapters, namely me (Loully) and my partner in both life and enterprise, my husband Gordon ( Nicolson Kiltmakers)
So here we are at the end of our working day, now sitting comfortably at the hub of daily life - our kitchen bunker, at home in Dunbar, Scotland. We may well have a glass of wine in hand (we will let your imagination decide) and invite you to listen in to a wee informal chat...
G: So Mrs N, I've always known you as Loully, ever since we met...but share how "Louise" became "Loully "?
L: Its a nickname that began in college ! I dont remember exactly why or who first used it, but it stuck ! All my mates from those days in Gala still call me Loully. And then when building the first online store for my accessories and trying to think of a brand name , it kind of seemed obvious to call it "LoullyMakes" . A self explanatory label !...(laughing) do you think it works ?!
G: ...most definitely ! How long has LoullyMakes been going for now ? (laughing more) I do know the answer ! Honest ! But tell the blog...
L : I suppose officially since 2014. That's 9 years ! Thats when my Etsy store launched. But you remember all the craft fairs and Pop-Up Shops beforehand, right ? How could you forget ?! (laughs)
G: (laughing) oh yes, it was character building for of all us ! Even the kids had to shift boxes of stock !
L: Happy days, but hard work. Especially outdoor Christmas markets !
G: (shivvers) .....brrrrrr !
You've always loved the creativity of setting up stall - your event layouts always look engaging.
L: oh absolutely, thats one of the best parts - the display and merchandising, especially if I've got a theme to work with. Remember the Alice in Wonderland Pop-Up Shop ?
G:...we dressed a mannequin as the Kilted Mad Hatter for the window ! You made lots of Tea Party themed gifts . The pop up shops were great fun, and always looked amazing. Do you miss those ?
L: I miss that sense of having a limited window of opportunity & using that focus to create a big impact....but not the weeks of work that went into making enough products to sell throughout the week-long stint ! Visual merchandising and creating special collections really gives me a buzz. That goes way back to our days at Liberty's, (when they still had a branch on George Street, Edinburgh) That's where I learned the art of merchandising...
G: Liberty! Those were the days ...seriously, our whole careers have been shaped by our training and experiences there. We really couldn't have asked for a better grounding -and working there together was actually life-changing (laughing) wouldn't you agree, Mrs N ?!
L: I certainly would Mr N ! I dont think I really appreciated the influence Libertys eclectic culture would have on me - on us as it turned out - throughout our careeers ! I didnt only learn the art of visual merchandising under Libertys guiding hand, we were both educated in the importance of real craftsmanship, original design and the value of heritage.
G : ...and these are the fundamentals of our business - of GNKfamily today...
L : ...absolutely! And we learned our trade together...
G :...having such a laugh along the way too (laughing)
L : ...(laughing)...that's why we remember it ! Oh, and meeting each other there was pretty memorable too !
G : Wouldn't change any of it for a second, Mrs N... Its fair to say we were both heartbroken when the branch closed in 1996...
L:...utterly bereft...its still very much missed.
G :...In hindsight it was a necessary step to protect Liberty's Regent Street store - it is an icon - and I can understand it now, but to close all provincial branches was a hard blow for the UK retail landscape. I went back into Highlandwear management at that point...where did you move on to Loully?
L: Lingerie ! That was a new skill to learn, bra-fitting ! Definitely a pinnacle in my customer service training ! I loved it. I was trained by Charnos, and served in Frasers and Jenners.
G:Frasers and Jenners -the bygone bookends of Princes Street !
L: Indeed ! I earned my stripes with pretty varied experiences working for the best retailers in the city. But times change - Frasers is now the Johnnie Walker Experience & Jenners' revitalisation is imminent. Exciting changes for Edinburgh, I feel.
G: Very exciting. As are the changes we are now implementing for GNKfamily . More than 20 busy years further on from Lingerie (!) we have the planned new shopfit of our Canongate Store to look forward to - although we have been waiting for it to go ahead for quite some time, thanks to setbacks caused by Brexit & Covid !
L: Goodness, yes, it has been a wait. But it will be worth it....and if surviving the challenges of Brexit & Covid has taught us anything, then its definitely to "keep the heid" (laughs)
G: (smiling) yes ! And to carry on...
L: I really cant wait to see the shopfit in place, and to finally be able to introduce the new ideas and product ranges that we have been working away on in the background. Are you excited, Mr N ?
G : Massively excited, yes Mrs N. I feel that our planned improvements are going to move LoullyMakes & GNKfamily forward, to another level.
L: Onwards & upwards !
G : Always !
...and so, as that seems like a timely juncture to take a step back from this little Q&A, we will end this first blog post here. But the conversation & the journey continue, so I hope you will all drop in on us again to catch up & find out what Loully & GNKfamily get up to next !
Thanks for reading !