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LAUNCHING AND MANAGING A BRAND WITH AUDREY LEIGHTON ROGERS

Strong, incredibly creative and entrepreneurial: Audrey Leighton Rogers joins me for this month’s conversation. Based between Barcelona and Paris, Audrey is the owner of vintage boutique Audrey Leighton Vintage while also working as a photographer, writer and influencer (we don’t know how she does it either!). Her brand's monthly drops typically sell out in under 24 hours.

1. What keeps you motivated daily as a small business owner?

The creativity inherent in my job as a small business owner is truly what keeps me motivated. Dreaming up the themes for our collections and then executing them is honestly such, such fun. I love it - I am grateful for the creativity of my brand because it pushes me forward, and I lean on that passion most fiercely during difficult financial periods, such as covid. It hasn't been an easy ride, but everyday I wake up and I am excited to create, regardless of sales etc.

2. As a business owner myself, I appreciate you being transparent on Instagram and talking about the struggles of being an entrepreneur, why is this important to you?

I think we live in an era where 'immediate success' is not only celebrated but genuinely considered to be a very normal, almost expected occurrence. It isn't. It is not at all. Success takes ongoing discipline, courage and grit. I am so tired of people selling it as easy. My life instantly became 10 times more complicated and more stressful as soon as I decided to launch my brand. Sure, every morning I wake up living out my dream job - but dreams come at a cost. You cannot work 2 hours a week and have a successful, thoughtful, artistic brand. Impossible. Europe, generally is not a small business friendly environment either and I don't think that is very transparently conveyed. I suppose, like all pursuits in my life, I honour honesty - and so that is what I have shared ever since launching.

3. What is your favourite piece you own?

I own an enormous archive of vintage clothing so it's difficult to decide but I would probably say my collection of vintage Chanel jewellery. It isn't a big collection, but I love the emotional value they hold, each piece marks a successful Audrey Leighton collection - when we did really well, I'd buy a vintage Chanel piece as a reward.

4. What was the motivation behind Audrey Leighton Vintage and have you always loved timeless vintage pieces? 

I've been an influencer in the industry for 10 plus years - I got tired of the constant competitiveness and the incessant promoting of other brands. As a creative, the often very narrow, very limiting brand briefs frustrated me. It seemed natural to start a brand of my own - honouring exactly what I love. Yes, I have always, always loved vintage clothing - I inherited the love from my mother, who inherited it from her mother. Vintage collecting runs in my family, at this point, I'd say it's in our blood! I actually had a e-shop called 'Frassy Rags' years ago when I lived in Paris, where I would sell my vintage finds - so this isn't my first foray into vintage ecommerce.

5. I think you probably get this question hundreds of times per week but… How do you make your photography and Instagram feed so effortlessly beautiful?

 Discipline is really the key. My brand has a very stong identity, so mentally and creatively, I always honour that.  We don't veer into every colour of the rainbow we ignore trends, and we keep Old World Europe at the forefront of the photography.  Modernity does not exist within our brand - there are no new cars, pedestrians in modern clothing, technology etc in our photos.  This ensures our photography is very cohesive - each image ties into the larger narrative of Audrey Leighton Vintage.

6. You are a big inspiration and motivation to other women in business, what advice would you give to someone wanting to launch a brand?

Start very small. You don't need a huge amount of capital and you absolutely do not need investment. Produce in tiny quantities, better to sell out and produce again than to be sitting on boxes of surplus stock. Identify and solidify your brand image - and have a graphic designer help you with beautiful logos etc. I see so many brands with such sporadic, undefinable branding - without strong, consistent branding, there is no way prospective clients will understand who and what your brand is. Also, celebrate being small - there is so much soul in small brands - I think women especially take pride in buying from soulful, small brands. This is our competitive edge when it comes to bigger brands - they simply lack the soul and beating heart that a small business can so beautifully have!

7. Favorite beauty hack?

Water - I drink around 5 litres a day and biologique recherche p50 every night. Those two routines alone will change your skin I promise!

8. Place or city that inspires you the most?

France will always be the most sophisticated country in my eyes. I learnt so much about style, creativity and artistic expression when I lived in Paris and those lessons as well as my personal taste continue to evolve every year - everything I learnt in France can be directly seen in what I do with my brand.

Find Audrey’s beautiful photography at @frassyaudrey and follow her vintage line @audrey.leighton.vintage and www.audreyleightonvintage.com