The Shop At Bluebird
SPOTLIGHT ON SERIES
As part of our Spotlight On… series, we’ll be chatting to some of the people who have had a key influence on NASON. First up is Claire Miles, Buying Director at The Shop at Bluebird, where we launched our current collection earlier this year. It was lovely chatting to Claire and learning about her fascinating career, fashion loves and top tips for visiting London’s Westbourne Grove…
Hi Claire, thank you so much for taking the time to chat to us. You've worked your way up to a very coveted position as Buying Director at The Shop at Bluebird; can you tell us about your career journey to get there?
Of course – it started on the shop floor! As a teenager I knew I wanted to have financial independence and that fashion and retail both really interested me, so I decided not to go to university and instead worked at Topshop. Being from Dorset, I then went to work at New Look’s HQ in Weymouth, which enabled me to learn about core fashion industry functions like buying and marketing. I eventually relocated to London which was a fantastic change – I was working as a successful buyer – but I eventually got to the point where I knew I should move on and broaden my experience.
Fast-forward a few years and I joined ASOS, where I learnt so much about global online retailing – a new area for me and an amazing opportunity to continue solidifying my understanding of retail trading and customer experience. However, I realised that I didn’t want to work in young, fast fashion forever so applied for the role at Bluebird, jumping straight into the world of luxury designer labels.
I’ve now been at The Shop at Bluebird for five years. It’s been quite a journey too and I’ve loved drawing on my experience from past roles and companies. For instance, my ASOS training really helped when we launched online with Farfetch.
"I love the vintage vibe and dark romance of the collection – we’re not really seeing that elsewhere and yet it feels so relevant."
Sounds incredible, and so inspiring to have started out right from the shop floor. What have been your proudest career moments to date?
Last year, when The Shop at Bluebird won a Drapers award for Best Store (for the Carriage Hall in Floral St, Covent Garden) was a really amazing achievement! Another proud memory was when we opened the doors of that store for the first time. It was such a key moment for the whole team and I’m still so proud of what we accomplished together.
What does your average day at work look like?
Lots of emails, haha! But quite varied really… When in London I’m usually office-based, but also make time to regularly visit the stores. It means I can see the products and meet the customers, which is so important.
About five times a year I go to Paris and where things can be a bit more full-on. I’ll often be dashing from showroom to showroom looking at products!
Plenty of variety then! What do you love most about your job, and equally what are the challenges?
I love the product and the people. Working in an industry where everyone appreciates design and creativity is amazing! In terms of challenges, it has to be the unpredictability of external factors that impact sales – like the economy and weather. But as a team we embrace it. Certain challenges are unavoidable, so we make sure we’re always learning lessons from them to help us continually develop. It’s so important to be able to admit when and why things sometimes go wrong.
Exactly – you can’t evolve unless you make a few mistakes, but crucially you have to be prepared to learn from them. Did you always know that you wanted to work in the fashion industry?
I think I was a teenager when I realised I really wanted to get into fashion… In terms of why, there was no particularly strong influence from family or friends – I just started working at Topshop (it was during their heyday, so a fantastic time to be on the shop floor) and ended up spending all my first month’s pay on clothes! I had found something I loved but actually the main pull was being able to have financial independence. I guess it was having a strong drive for independence and success from quite an early age rather than knowing I specifically wanted to work in fashion.
With such a strong love for fashion now and a long career working with women’s clothing, what's your personal style code?
Feminine, chic and effortless! I’m a bit of a romantic so wear a lot of dresses – I love how I can put them on and float around! No doubt due to my denim buying days at New Look I also love jeans – Levi’s are my favourite. I go for quite a polished look at work, so they’re great for pairing with a T-shirt and chilling out at the weekend.
We’re big dress fans too – they’re such versatile, effortless pieces! Can you tell us about the three hardest-working pieces in your wardrobe?
My Loewe basket bag has been my arm candy this summer; plus my Arizona Love sandals have been my most comfortable fashion purchase for some time! I’ve also been wearing the NASON Miller Spot Maxi Dress a lot as it’s perfect for such a wide variety of occasions. It also gets so many compliments! I’ve worn it to work – especially when visiting the stores – but also out for dinner.
What makes The Shop at Bluebird a different shopping destination to other boutiques in London?
Firstly, the team, who are extremely warm and welcoming – more like stylists than sales people. They provide a luxury shopping experience that doesn’t ever feel sterile or serious. It’s a very friendly environment!
Secondly, the décor speaks for itself… We were awarded for being the most stunning store in London and it is truly a special space. There’s art, homeware and beauty as well as fashion; so it’s a lifestyle experience as well as a fashion store.
And lastly, the edit. It’s curated by myself and my buyer, Emma, and we choose very carefully for our customers. The fact that Emma and I are also selecting brands and pieces that we love makes it a highly personal collection.
"We’re really passionate about supporting independent designers and brands."