Welcome to our newest editorial initiative, Who What Wear Spotlight, where we'll be using our editorial platform, social following, and ad inventory to turn the spotlight on small businesses that need our support now more than ever. Each week, we'll be highlighting a new fashion or beauty company. If you own a small brand and would like to be considered for the program, please apply here.
As a fashion editor, I always try to meet as many new brands and designers as I can, and back when we were working in the office, we regularly scheduled meetings with new labels. There are a handful of brands that I will always clearly remember these first meetings with and their early collections, and Lisou is one of those brands. I was first introduced to the label in March 2018 when founder and designer Rene Macdonald visited our WWW UK townhouse. And so when I saw Lisou in the Spotlight applications, it was a no-brainer that this was a little-known label worthy of our backing.
The aesthetic of the London-based brand is infectious, as Macdonald creates her own bright, playful prints and works with bold pinks, oranges and greens. Her personal style is in line with Lisou's aesthetic, as she loves to mix unexpected vibrant prints together.
Here, Macdonald explains how she built her brand and how she is adjusting her business in the current climate.
Introduce our readers to your business. When did you start it and why?
Lisou started in 2018 as a womenswear brand specialising in silk pieces with unique prints. As we’ve grown, we have added other fabrics, but we continue to design all our prints in-house, making every creation a unique piece. I have always been passionate about fashion, and there weren’t many brands doing what I wanted to do. So I took the plunge, and here we are.
How have social-distancing and stay-at-home orders affected your business? How have your priorities shifted?
Sadly, we had to close our shop because of the pandemic, but because we already had an online presence, we hoped we could rely on the loyalty of our customers as well as spreading the word further afield. Like everyone, our priorities shifted, but at Lisou, we’ve always loved a challenge, and everyone at Team Lisou has been incredible in coming up with great ideas to get us through the pandemic.
Tell us about how you use your business to give back?
I’ve always believed that it isn’t enough to be a brand solely focused on sales. We run several initiatives throughout the year. During the pandemic, we are donating 20% of profits to the NHS. We also have two initiatives that we run every year. The first is donating to our own African charity which helps young Tanzanians with medical and educational needs, and more locally, we run a state school primary and secondary competition. The idea here in London is to encourage creativity in schools by manufacturing fashion accessories such as silk scarves and tote bags featuring the students’ designs. These are then pieces where we donate all proceeds from sales to the winning schools’ art departments. We started with our own boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea with the aim of adding more London boroughs every year. Finally, we recently linked up with One Tree Planted on an initiative where we plant five trees for every sale made.
Some people are finding joy in getting dressed and doing their beauty routine, even if they have nowhere to go. What do you think fashion and beauty can offer people right now? What has it done for you?
In a time of turbulence and anxiety, I think people need some joy in their lives, and if that is through fashion or beauty or whatever, then it’s a good thing. Personally, I’ve found it helpful to get dressed as usual every day. Not only does this normalise things, but it helps to keep to a routine. With all the applications available that connect us visually, who doesn’t want to look their fabulous best?
What are your top three favourite products you sell and why?
That’s not as easy a question as you’d think to answer. My current favourites from our S/S 20 collection would be the Hetty trousers, the Bailey mango rainbow shirt and the Jade jumpsuit in metallic rainbow zigzag.
You create all your prints yourself. What is the process for creating your prints?
Lots of doodling! Sometimes I have a theme in mind, but most of the time, the theme of a collection comes about because of something I’ve been inspired by or that is in my mind. I work on prints all the time and save the ones that aren’t quite right, but I know they’ll all get used eventually. I always have a notebook on me so I can jot down ideas, and if for some reason I don’t, then any scrap of paper will do.
Is there anything else you really want our readers to know about you or your brand?
Lisou is my baby. Now that my children have left home, it has been wonderful to have a project of my own to sink my teeth into. More than anything, Lisou is an homage to my fashionista mama, who taught me all I know about fashion and design.