Kate Lough talks to the force behind silk label MARINA London and new Notting Hill lifestyle pop-up, The Basics Store
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Beautiful silk dresses, cheeky ceramics and contemporary gold hoops - these are just some of the "everyday essentials" you'll find at The Basics Store, a pop-up lifestyle boutique in Notting Hill.
Independent designers who you might not have heard of mix in a highly Instagrammable space, which has been curated by 31-year-old designer Marina Guergova.
Bulgarian by birth, west Londoner Marina is also the brains behind luxury silkwear brand MARINA London and mother to Leo.
Here, Marina tells us how the concept started, why she loves championing female designers and how she balances work and family life.
Where did the idea for the Basics Store come from?
I wanted to open a pop-up for my own brand MARINA London, but couldn't afford it, so I thought: why not rent a space where I invited other designers I admire, who have a similar design aesthetic, and share the rent? It made total sense and the idea was born out of a problem I was trying to solve. I have a feeling the best ideas come that way. I then got in touch with Appear Here when they were starting out and made this happen.
How did you choose which designers to feature in the shop?
Most of them are friends and acquaintances of mine, but I also reach out to brands I admire on Instagram. Some say yes and come on board, which is the best.
Is it important that all your designers are women?
It isn't actually - but they all are and I love that so much. Every brand that is a part of the store has been created by incredibly clever, hard working girls and women. As a result, The Basics Store has become a kind of incubator for independent brands, with women running them and that carries a very powerful message in itself. It's a sign of the times; women are taking leaps. Through collective work we are building authentic businesses and bringing a new-age wave of feminism.
How important has social media been for the project?
It has been pivotal and it would be naive to think anything like this can be built without it being one of the most important things to consider. The beauty of this is that what you create has to be thoughtful, well curated/presented and show that you care about the store and the designers in it. Our following for @TheBasicsStoreis growing so rapidly, which I am so happy to see, because it shows that people want this kind of product in their lives and appreciate the aesthetic.They aspire to support independent brands.
I am very thankful for social media, when it is used in such a positive way.
What pieces do you have your eye on in the new shop?
Honestly, everything. I wouldn't have something I wouldn't want in my home. I am slightly obsessed with Kana London's F*CK ceramics collection though - they are exactly what the store is about. A bit basic, but with a good sense of humour.
Which other independent design shops do you like in London?
I do love Goodhood and Labour and Wait in Shoreditch, Momosan in Hackney and our friends at Modern Society. They all offer something that is special and unique both in terms of product and experience.
Tell us a bit about your solo project, MARINA London
MARINA London is my answer to dressing effortlessly, whilst wearing luxury silk pieces. I design for women who look for wardrobe staples in silk and are in search for classics. I am not trying to re-invent the wheel. Our woman is confident, she is an optimist and she looks for the good in people. She is not obsessed with fashion, she cares for other things and dressing is a simple pleasure.
How did you get into silk design?
I studied fashion at Central Saint Martins and found a love for Crepe de Chine silk - that inspired me to start my own brand in 2011.
Where do you seek inspiration?
I always look to girls on the street and try to imagine them wearing things that I have in my head. I think: "Would this be flattering on them? Would they feel good about themselves in it? Is she going to feel powerful/sexy/demure/self-conscious in it?"
Also, I love movies and women in movies - that is a big source of inspiration for me.
Which of your silk pieces could you not live without?
How do you balance all your different babies – Leo, MARINA London and The Basics Store?
Leo, my son, is always number one, but it really isn't easy doing all three. The most difficult thing being answering emails - it is almost impossible most days! I wouldn't be able to do it at all without my incredibly dedicated and hardworking studio manager, Ellen and my family.
Describe a day in the life of Marina
Currently, I wake up at about 6 or 7am, and get Leo and myself ready for the day. I love breakfast, so I go big on that. My amazing mum is over from Bulgaria to help me during the day, when I have to work at The Basics Store. My mother-in-law is also a great support - she comes and spends time with him too. To me, it's important to have family around Leo as much as possible, so that he gets close to them as opposed to a nanny.
We open at 10am and there is always something to do. If I have meetings, I love to invite people over and have them in store, as it's such a nice atmosphere. I try to do some social media when possible. I am always on the hunt for new brands that I screengrab and earmark to get in touch with in the future. I'm replenishing stock, putting on prices and making sure the shop is always looking as neat as possible.
We close at 7pm, when I drive home for dinner with my windows down, listening to music in my car. We put Leo to bed and then I try to answer emails during the only quiet time in my day. I go to bed way too late and then the day starts again.