Retailer of the Week
The women behind Mili: Sara Bjarnadóttir (l.) and her mother Frida Tomasdóttir
03 Apr. 2014
Frida Tomasdóttir and Sara Bjarnadóttir, Mili, Hamburg, Germany
A little more than one year ago, Frida Tomasdóttir and her daughter Sara Bjarnadóttir opened up their store Mili in Hamburg’s Eppendorf district. The pretty all-white basement store houses selected (mainly) Scandinavian womenswear with labels such as Stine Goya, Ganni, Carin Wester, Won Hundred or Libertine-Liberty. Here, the mother-daughter retail couple of Icelandic origin discloses what they will be selling this summer and what their secrets of comfortable retailing are. Interview by Maria Hunstig
Why did you open up your store in the first place? Tell us the story behind!
We opened Mili in Hamburg’s Eppendorf neighborhood around one year ago. We have always been very fascinated by fashion and we had the dream of opening up a concept store in Hamburg for several years, as we felt that such a store was missing in Hamburg – the labels of our assortment could hardly be found in this city and we wanted to change that.
Shop window at Mili
We have a few bestseller labels such as Ganni, Designers Remix, Won Hundred and Stine Goya, but it always changes a bit with the season. Some are stronger in winter, others in summer.
In terms of denim: Which fits and washings/colors are the most popular right now?
Our most popular models are skinny fits, for the summer, these sell well in an ankle free length as well. Generally, classic washings sell best; washed black, grey and vintage blue.
Which new brands did you add to your assortment most recently?
For summer 2014, we have taken up three new labels: Wood Wood, Baum und Pferdgarten as well as the Berlin-based designer Malaika Raiss and we are very excited whether our customers will be as excited about them as we are.
Do customers look for special brands and items or do they rather shop spontaneously?
In our case, many customers come to the store in search for certain brands. They are well informed and often already know the complete collection and look for special styles. On the other side, we do also have many customers who like to get inspired by our selection and are happy to find out about new brands and designers.
Where do you purchase your merchandise? Trade shows / showrooms?
We mainly do our purchasing in Copenhagen, both at the trade shows and in the showrooms. But we are also attending the Berlin shows.
Where do you inform yourself about trends?
We get a lot of information in magazines and blogs and we get inspired during our travels. We didn’t plan to nearly exclusively sell Scandinavian fashion in the beginning, it just sort of happened, as we like and wear these brands a lot ourselves.
Which trends can we expect for summer 2014?
There will be a lot of color blocking and prints in summer. Sweatshirts will stay big. And all the Danish brands are very good in two-pieces made in one pattern or color; you find these in nearly every collection.
How do you stay in contact with your regulars?
We do have a newsletter and try to keep our customers updated via social media such as Facebook, Instagram and our blog. Moreover, we host little store events regularly.
What does your shop have that others don’t?
For us, it is important to only sell styles that we are totally convinced of and that we would instantly wear ourselves. We have a good mixture of labels which you don’t find on every corner. But the most important thing is that our customers feel exactly as good at Mili as we do ourselves. They can take their time, take a look at the collections and try on things – without any pressure.
What do you like about your city, the location?
We love Hamburg, it’s a beautiful and at the same time exciting city. Mili is located directly on the boarder of the two neighborhoods Eppendorf and Hoheluft, a nice mixture as we believe. Just around the corner there are a number of nice cafes and restaurants and you immediately feel comfortable here.
The Mili interior exhales a light and clean atmosphere
We do not have an online shop yet, however, that is already in the making, as the demand is so high. We are very happy to have received requests from customers from all over Germany and also from other European countries and we would love to be able to cater to them, too.
Is there a role model for you? Any store that inspires you?
There is not a certain role model, when we started planning and realizing Mili, it was actually clear from the beginning, how we wanted everything to look like: white, clean and puristic, but at the same time friendly and relaxed.
In Copenhagen, you have a lot of great stores offering a nice mix of Scandinavian labels and we missed that in Hamburg. However, in Hamburg you can get a lot of inspiration in beautiful interior shops such as Minimarkt and Lys Vintage – they have a great assortment and you can take a look and discover treasures with ease.
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