From pop-ups to trendsetting East London retailer with niche brands.
Spontaneity might not sound like the ideal approach to running a business, but Thor & Wistle co-founders Kamilla Thorsen and Rachel Entwistle have proved that it is possible to achieve retail success without turning their lives into one giant to-do list.
Having met while sharing studio space in 2009, the pair opened Thor & Wistle in 2012 after a whirlwind decision was made to purchase a vacant shop in Shoreditch, East London. But instead of panicking about their lack of business plan, Kamilla and Rachel followed their gut instincts and allowed their shared retail space to develop organically. That initial seed of potential has now blossomed into a fully-fledged retail and online business, with web sales soaring 330% during Christmas 2013, swiftly followed by winning the Boutique Retailer of the Year accolade at the UKWJA 2014.
Amid all this success, Kamilla admits it’s finding a balance that’s the trickiest thing to get right. “This past year we have been focused on developing a structure for the day-to-day running of the store and it has been a challenge to get it right in all areas including accounts, social media, staffing and merchandising. It is also a challenge finding the time to design and make jewellery within our own brands as well as running the store,” she says.
With their up-cycled, curiosity shop-inspired boutique’s second birthday party also a success, Kamilla and Rachel are keeping a watchful eye over their store’s physical expansion — ensuring there is plenty of space for more guest designers as well as a larger studio space for the two of them. Rachel divulges: “We try to structure our business and creativity in a way that suits our lifestyles. My advice is to go with your instincts and make sure you spend time on what you love doing and what you are good at… The rest will follow.”
Rachel Entwistle and Kamilla Thorsen were named IJL Retail Stars in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2014, in association with headline sponsor Pandora and principle partner The Company of Master Jewellers.
To read a digital version of the Hot 100 2014 book in full online, click here.