International Women's Day: KJ's Laundry

Q&A with Jane Ellis, co-founder of KJ’s Laundry.

Tell us about your role and business… 

After a trip to New York Kate and I were inspired by the laid back aesthetic of the boutiques of downtown Soho. The product they stocked was fresh, cool and ultimately very wearable. At the time we felt the boutiques in and around London were presenting an altogether more dressier vibe, we thought that there may be a gap in the market for something that echoed those NY boutique sentiments.  We began by sourcing labels that answered that brief and that would largely be exclusive to us and so KJ’s Laundry was born. We opened on Marylebone Lane in March of 2006 and have been based there ever since. KJ’s became known for introducing new, exciting hard to find labels into the UK. We still try to do this but with online shopping now in the mix it has been hard to maintain the exclusivity. In answer to this we have developed our own label which is now the best selling line in store. We sell a mix of womenswear and accessories, jewellery and some homewares.  On a daily basis, my role as a director can involve many things from visiting showrooms, buying products, planning and designing our own label to paying invoices. Also, both Kate and I enjoy working in the shop as much as possible. 

Which women have inspired you most throughout your life? 

I am constantly inspired by my business partner Kate; we have worked together now for 16 years and I can honestly say it's been so much fun. We have faced many business challenges over the years and Kate always faces them head on with total positivity. It goes without saying that our customers are also a constant source of inspiration to us. It's so nice to hear about their inspiring lives on a daily basis - they have such wide reaching and varied careers and stories. The fashion world is full of inspiring women, many of whom have started their own businesses. Most of the showrooms that we buy our labels from have been founded by women. We always seek inspiration from Maria Lemos at Rainbowwave and Jules Middleton at Middleton Green to name but a few. On an international scale, I would definitely shine a light on fashion supremo Phoebe Philo. Her vision and design aesthetic has been hugely influential in changing the way women dress and her work with Celine was unprecedented and of course, most importantly she put us all in trainers. 

What do you love most about being positioned in Marylebone Village? 

We love being situated in Marylebone Village - it has changed so much since we opened in 2006. The location is brilliant, situated in-between the beautiful green spaces of Regents Park and Hyde Park with far reaching and easily accessible transport links. Its mix of restaurants and retailers is second to none in the capital and there is an eclectic mix of independent brands and cult chains that make it the ideal shopping destination.