Tunbridge Wells resident Sam Hipperson owns and manages the fledgling online fashion boutique Love and Luxe. Here, she tells Eileen Leahy how, despite a few difficult years, she found herself in an exciting new phase in her personal and professional life…
If ever proof was needed that you can rise from the ashes like a phoenix after a devastating personal event, then local entrepreneur and mother of two Sam Hipperson surely is.
Going through a separation, selling the family home and then having to jump on Airbnb and hotel from week to week because of the lack of being able to rent accommodation because of the Covid, would surely have broken the majority of us but not Sam.
And after spending a lovely sunny Friday morning interviewing her, it seems that this very trying time in Sam’s life has only made her stronger and wiser.
I’m talking to her because, despite the aforementioned hardships she’s had to endure over the past two and a half years, Sam is now back and functioning after buying a house, divorcing her husband and taking over running a start-up. up local fashion and accessories brand Love and Luxe.
We meet in a beautiful – and huge – cottage-style garden right in the center of Tunbridge Wells to conduct the interview for SO magazine. It belongs to one of Sam’s many friends who have helped her over the last few years and it is there that she photographs all the new collections for the label which she acquired in February this year and in which she clearly puts so much passion into it.
“Love this garden,” Sam says as she carefully hangs a selection of beautiful beach and occasion dresses from a pretty ornamental rose arch, ready to be photographed by our photographer Emily.
“These dresses are the mainstay of the Love and Luxe collection. The one from Ibiza Aztec in particular is by far our most popular and always sells out,” she continues, smoothing the fabric as she hangs it up, preparing it for her close-up.
As well as the brand’s gorgeous dresses that will perfectly transport vacationers from the beach to the bar and effortlessly glamorous look for women of all shapes thanks to most of them being one-size-fits-most, Sam sells many more goodies. clothing. These include a kaleidoscope of colorful soft knits, smart blazers and divine boho-style jewelry in silver and gold. Then, of course, there are the “Off Duty” slogan hoodies that launched the Love and Luxe label last summer under its original owner and founder Rebecca Doyle – AKA Becks of Instagram account House Build and owner of the Isabella Grace Bridal Shop on Mount Ephraim.
“Becks launched Love and Luxe in June 2021 and I could see via her Instagram stories that she was really busy running her bridal shop, House Build account and a new fashion brand, so I decided to email her and ask if she would like to help.”
At this particular time, Sam had just gotten a divorce and had to fend for herself financially. I contacted Becks as my previous career had been in events and thought I might be able to help around the launch of Love and Luxe. Becks was very nice and supportive saying that while she couldn’t employ me full time or even part time, maybe she could give me an ad hoc job.
“I hadn’t worked for 16 years because I was a stay-at-home mom and all of a sudden I had to find a job.
“Our first job together was on a Love and Luxe photo shoot and we got on well. I then helped her from time to time as the business grew and when she went on vacation a few months later in August, she said I could run the business in her absence. I was working four days a week and that’s when things really started to take off for me,” Sam says.
In November, however, Becks said she felt unable to juggle Love and Luxe with everything else and told Sam she could either end the business or Sam buy it from her.
“She said I think you should do the latter emphasizing what a great opportunity it would be for me. It was quite fortuitous. Becks had really helped me and now wanted me to take charge and I I had to borrow money to buy the business and I must admit I really put myself out of my comfort zone but here I am!
When purchasing Love and Luxe in February of this year, Sam began looking for new premises to operate, finding a new model to showcase the clothes, and figuring out how she was going to put her own style on things.
“I borrowed some money from my sister and managed to find a place to rent, then I asked my friend Sarah if she knew anyone who would be willing to become a model. She suggested l “one of his personal trainer clients, a new mom of twins named Rachel. She couldn’t understand why we asked her because she had just become a mom and had lost a bit of self-confidence. But a few months later and Rachel kills him by as a Love and Luxe model, so this looks like a mutually beneficial collaboration!
And over the past six months, Sam says she’s now finding her feet with the type of branded stock she’s looking for and how she markets it now.
“I see that investing in targeted online advertising is paying off. We’re able to track who’s buying what and where and we’re doing quite well – our biggest subscribers are in Tunbridge Wells, London and, oddly enough, Scotland.
Sam says she now also goes to trade shows so she can curate future collections and that’s something she really enjoys.
“For me it’s all about quality and feel, so being able to do it in person means our buyers know we’re selling good stock. I know many people are wary of buying online, but I hope Love and Luxury customers can rest assured.
So what’s the secret to how Sam Cherry chooses pieces, because if her current summer collection is anything to behold, it’s certainly appealing to women of most ages, styles and sizes.
“I guess I buy what I like and I buy what I would wear but I’m also very keen on quality. And it has to be good value too,” Sam replies.
“My other important point is that it must be multifunctional. So I always consider how many ways I can wear something. Will it go with a denim jacket and white sneakers or a pair of high heels? Can I also wear it to school, to the office, to a restaurant or to a wedding? That’s a big selling point for me.
Sam adds that she is constantly learning on the job, but the good thing is that she can see things progressing properly.
“I’m getting into a long term planning routine and I’m really excited about what we have to come for Fall/Winter and Christmas!
“There are some beautiful pieces coming out in gorgeous colorways. I really like things that go well together and complement each other.
Along with a variety of cable knits, chunky cardigans and fur-trimmed ponchos, there will also be a bit of seasonal sparkle added to the Love and Luxe mix. And the good news is that after curating a series of super successful pop-ups, Sam plans to do a few more so customers can see the collection in the flesh before they buy – something quite unusual for an online store and its customers.
It’s fair to say that the future season is certainly shaping up to be bright for Sam – in more ways than one….