Stylist Ashlyn Gibson, 53, is Founder of Olive Loves Alfie in London’s Stoke Newington
DESCRIBE THE SHOP’S LOOK AND ETHOS
We arrived in 2006 and trailblazed a new concept in the world of children’s retail to challenge the traditional view of boy and girl style and play. Our multi-award winning store is home to an inspirational range of responsibly made and globally sourced clothing, homewares and toys for the modern family. Our curated mix combines print and pattern with vintage- inspired and folksy styling.
YOU’RE A STOKE NEWINGTON INSTITUTION – WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR LOCATION?
We love being part of a thriving community. Some of my best friends started out as my customers. Church Street is one of the few remaining streets in London with so many award-winning independent stores.
WHAT’S PROVING POPULAR THIS SEASON?
The new Apolina collection has just arrived and we love everything about it. Our customers appreciate the ethos behind the brand, the artisan skills used to produce each of their dresses and the fact that they are modern heirlooms.
HOW HAS THE MARKET CHANGED SINCE YOU OPENED?
When I opened, the kidswear market was typically pink and blue. As a colour and print lover, I went in search of more inspiring designs. At the time, Scandinavian designers won hands down for the most imaginative kidswear. A decade on and a new wave of innovative British kidswear designers have put their own spin on kidswear, getting us on the global map.
HOW DO YOU JUGGLE FAMILY AND WORK?
My work can be all-consuming but being my own boss means I can call the shots. Having the freedom to work from home, to choose my holidays and to be there for my daughter, Olive, when she needs me is the most important factor of my lifestyle.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT WITH OLIVE LOVES ALFIE?
Nothing beats opening the door for the first time – our launch party was one to remember!
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES THAT COME WITH RUNNING YOUR STORE?
London rents and rates are astronomical. It makes it difficult for independents to survive, but after 12 years, we’re still going strong. People told me that staffing would be a big problem but my employees have always been a joy.
DESCRIBE THE OLIVE LOVES ALFIE CUSTOMER
Conscious, loyal and imaginative.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR OLIVE LOVES ALFIE?
We’re currently waiting for our own range of vegetable-dyed kids’ kimonos to arrive from Bali.
Photography: Katrina Campbell