I had the pleasure of working backstage at Edinburgh Fashion Week not so long back. I helped dress the models, create running orders and liase with designers and stylists. One of the collections that stood out to me was S/S ’15 Kakao by K, which was part of the Thistle Street fashion collective. Full of clean lines, minimalist structures and seasonal tones, it put across a wearable, yet desirable vibe. Some days after the fabulous event, I met Karina, creator of the boutique. Check it out here!
First of all, tell me the meaning behind the brand’s name. We had trouble pronouncing it backstage !
The idea behind the name is that all the items we sell are intended to appeal to every woman out there. ‘Kakao’ means ‘Hot Chocolate’ in the Swedish language. Everybody there loves hot chocolate, so each garment is as delicious and indulgent as the drink! It is ‘By K’ because of my name (Karina) as I design a jewellery collection for the boutique myself, as well as housing many other designers.
Is there anything in particular that made you want to open your shop here, and what inspired you?
When I first moved to Edinburgh, I actually worked in the financial sector, but always wanted to do something more creative. I remember walking down Thistle Street one day and admiring one of the boutiques, thinking it would be amazing to have my own. Funnily enough it was the exact same premises that I am in now; perhaps a bit of fate played a part!
How did you get involved with the shows and retail events at Edinburgh Fashion Week?
It was very retail-lead, and the aim was to bring shoppers into Edinburgh. We were very lucky to be invited to show the collections on the catwalk and also host a pop up shop. It was a brilliant platform to promote the store and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. Our location means that passing trade is less than some of the major shopping streets, so getting our name out there is great. I would definitely get involved again; it was a huge success, being only it first year. I hope it goes from strength to strength, as the city has a huge pool of talent.
I see also that you were nominated for the Drapers Award last year, which is so incredible, and I’d love to hear more about it!
Amazingly, we were nominated for ‘Best Independent Women’s Fashion Boutique’ which was across the whole of the UK. It’s one of my proudest achievements to be recognised for such a huge industry accolade, especially being the only Scottish representative.
What would you say was the main aim of Kakao by K as part of the city’s fashion offerings?
I always felt there was a gap in the market and I feel I have filled that. People want unique garments – something exclusive and special, so I wanted to add that to Edinburgh. Also, Scandavian style has become huge within the UK, and supporting independent Scandavian, as well as Scottish designers is so important.
Where do you see the brand in the near future? Do you have any aspirations for expansion ?
One thing I would like to do more of is bringing my own range of jewellery into focus. I have a lot of ideas! In terms of the boutique, I have become so attached so it is tricky to think of expanding. I guess it will come naturally ,when it feels ready to move on!
How about the highlights and downfalls of your journey?
For me one of the hardest things is that I am on my own; I’m my own boss and my own team! There has been so many ups and downs but I guess I always embrace the challenges and learn from my mistakes. Its been a huge learning curve.
Finally, for anyone who is in the position you were in 6 years ago, wanting to open their own boutique, what advice would you offer?
Go and speak to as many people as possible in your field! They will give you a lot of support; it was an invaluable thing I did when starting up. Get a huge network of like-minded people and do as much research as you possibly can!