Meet The Founder: Clare Hornby, ME+EM

 

Why did you start Me & Em?

I founded ME+EM to fill the gap between luxury brands and the high street. We behave like a luxury brand, designing everything in-house in London and focusing on beautiful fabrics, cuts and contemporary detailing. However, because we operate on a direct-to-consumer business model, we can price our collections like a high-end high street brand.

 

Did you have a background in fashion?

I started my career in luxury fashion, at Harrods, and then moved into advertising, so when it came to building ME+EM, it just was a matter of bolting together that knowledge of the luxury retail market with an obsession with consumer insight.

 

What has been the most effective way you have reached your customers?

You’ve got to really understand the customer, and then give them what they need when they need it. Our customer wants to look contemporary but doesn’t want to look like a slave to fashion. That’s why each season we’ll analyse and carefully pick which are the right trends to follow, which will last and then we’ll weave that into the collection to offer women pieces that are modern now, but which will still be relevant in seasons to come. It’s a considered alternative to fast fashion: collections that have had a lot of time and effort poured into them.

 

How do you make sure you deliver a first-class customer experience?

Service is crucial. Customers like to go into a store and speak to someone experienced who can deal with their needs. Our store assistants will spend 2-3 hours with a customer, it’s almost a personal shopping experience. They also like efficiency: they want the hard work done for them when it comes to building outfits that will work all day and to finding the perfect solution for every occasion. That’s precisely why when we’re designing a collection, we think about the problems that women face when it comes to style, and then we’ll design the solution so that’s it’s ready for them to shop.

 

How has Covid affected your approach to business?

As soon as we went into lockdown we had to adapt very quickly, editing our collections, photography and marketing to make sure it was all as relevant as possible to the customer. It forced us to really enhance our communications – both internally and externally – and focus on giving the customer what they need.

What advice would you give yourself if you were starting out now?

All the mistakes and learnings along the way have been necessary to move forwards and improve, so I wouldn’t want to do anything differently.

 

How do you manage your work/life balance?

Whilst I’m busy running a business, I’m also busy being a mum – I don’t want to miss out on anything. The children always take priority. I have an incredible PA and a support network to help me manage my time and make sure I’m focusing on the right things at the right time.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

You have to love the numbers. Always know what your KPIs are and use that to inform how you take the business forward.

 

What has been your scariest moment?

Having to adapt so quickly as a result of Covid-19 took a lot of hard work but it was absolutely worth it as we have been blown away by how much our online business has grown, both in the UK and internationally. As the old adage goes, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

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