Exclusive Interview with Ruth Rein, Founder of Ivy Niche Brand
When did you realise that you had affinity to launch your own website?
Actually, the opening of the website in 2021 seemed like a natural progression, after my brother Emmanuel Mbu and I had already spent over a year selling leather handbags on ebay, as well as amazon. Already in 2019, we had founded Ivy Niche Ltd, out of a dream that we both shared: to create an online place where we could put together our own beautiful selection of Italian genuine leather bags, and, you could say, offer them to likeminded people at attractive prices.
What is your favorite aspect of designing your own bag?
We are an online retail store, and our journey to becoming a bag designer is only just beginning. Our first in house handbag design is currently in progress. A manufacturer in Tuscany is reviewing our design tech pack as we speak. Besides the thrill of starting with the simplest of drawings and refining it perpetually, I enjoy the online video discussions with the experienced craftsman in that beautiful part of the world, who can turn the idea into reality.
The fashion industry has changed so much in the past few years, what’s the best advice you would give for staying ahead of the curve?
I don’t see myself being qualified to give any advice. Being a small start-up, we have no choice but to enter this new post Brexit, post Covid environment amidst a cost of living crisis and geopolitical turmoil, with enthusiasm and optimism. Best Advice? Possibly think of combining a high street presence with online sales, that might be the way for small fashion retailers like us.
Where do you go for inspiration when you buy new items for your collection?
For me, the inspiration comes from the diversity of people around me. Weather it’s in the city, in the supermarket, in the park. I am trying to maintain a collection of bags that fits in with the best of styles, of dresses, of characters and behaviors that I observe at different times of the year. Also, I draw a lot of inspiration from the communication with customers online, who make enquiries and give feedback. I get a good feel for general things people are looking for in certain bags, like storage capacity, simplicity of shape, light weight etc.
Are all of your bags from leather? What kind of leather are you working with? Do you want to explore other materials as well?
All our bags are made of genuine leather, and they are all marked as such, either in English or Italian (Vera Pelle). The type of leather used is either split leather or corrected grain, with surfaces ranging from buffed to pebbled to crocodile printed and more. We have no plans to venture into other materials, but we will possibly include a full grain leather bag range in the future.
Where do you hope to see your brand “Ivy Niche” in the future?
We hope to gradually increase the percentage of bags in our collection that are either Ivy Niche branded by private label, or are our own design – in both cases being stamped with our trademarked logo. Apart from obviously increasing our online sales, we will look for opportunities to display our branded bags in shops across the UK.
There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season. What advice would you give to young designers just starting out and hoping to make it in the industry?
How about: Take some time to decide on a specific style or line you want to follow. Then stick to this line, with patience and perseverance. It’s more of a general advice, but comes from the heart!
Now, you have just been announced as one of the sponsors for the prestigious 8th annual National Film Awards UK. This is an amazing achievement for your company. How excited are you to partner with the National Film Awards UK?
To part-sponsor this amazing event means so much to us! Not just because our brand gets linked to the awesome UK film industry for a period of time, but also simply for the pure love of movies! We are movie fans like so many people, and to be able to be involved in a ceremony to honor the moviemakers and actors is just fantastic.
Where can readers reach you in case they want to purchase your bags?
Best way to see all our bags is on www.ivyniche.co.uk
For enquiries we can also be directly reached on firstname.lastname@example.org