Meet the founder of Paradise Row, Nika Mokhtassi
Named after a quaint cobbled street in East London, Paradise Row is fast making a name in the East End and beyond. Here RLI magazine sits down with the Founder and Creative Director of the company Nika Mokhtassi to talk about the beginnings of the brand and how she plans to take it forward in the future.
Originating in an area which is sometimes overlooked and always underappreciated, Paradise Row is utilising the rich history of the East End. Founder and Creative Director of the company Nika Mokhtassi has drawn on her experience living in the area to create her first collection of five high quality, contemporary leather bags, all designed and handcrafted in East London.
"The surrounding area is coursing with history and is full of incredible stories, I wanted my first collection to be based on these stories and to be dedicated to the area and the people that inspired them," says Nika.
Launched just five months ago, the growth and development of the brand has been phenomenal, whether it be brands seeking collaboration, online store enquires or an influencer showing interest, many opportunities have presented to Nika and to Paradise Row.
"The brand is already listed on Handpicked by Kate, a lifestyle curated website aimed at Londoners. Also in the last few weeks we have been chosen by the selection committee at Wolf and Badger to have a concession on their online boutique and we have just finalised an agreement with the Curious Cockney, a specially curated website of all pieces such as clothing and homeware made in East London," explains Nika.
In the next few years Nika wants the company to grow across the UK and overseas and become recognised as the place for people to get their leather goods from. “There is a lot to do to reach this stage, but I will be releasing collections on a regular basis, starting a basics range and looking into men’s leather goods market,” says Nika. Particular areas of interest for growth are markets in Europe and the Far East, with enquiries already being received from Paris and Singapore. Whilst these areas may already be saturated luxury goods markets, a space remains for luxury British brands such as Paradise Row who have a strong identity and can offer customers a product that is unique and not mass produced.
Being a young and new to market brand, social media is a paramount to the growth and marketing of Paradise Row. It is through social media that the company was found by Vogue and because of this it has been featured in their March Edition SS17 Fashion Forecast. Nika plans to invest even more in this area, especially on Instagram, whose users spend on average 21 minutes a day on the app.
“Customers want to feel connected with what they buy into, therefore in this ever changing world of online and social media, there are more ways for customers to access a brand or product, so it is essential for our customer service that we are contactable through all channels,” says Nika. “Being available at all times and through all means is a key driver behind the brands success to date, it means our reach is unlimited and our customer service rivals larger brands,” she continues. Paradise Row targets customers who are interested in knowing where and how the brands they buy into are made. Today, people are evolving into lifestyle customers, embracing slow fashion and preferring to invest in products with a sense of history and culture. Paradise Row fulfils this need and goes above and beyond being simply a designer handbag with a brand name.
The core of the brand is built on sourcing materials and manufacturing in East London. Bringing together the leather warehouse, the artisan bag workshop and the designer, each bag is testimony to local trade working in harmony to create something truly unique. “The first collection, CORE, draws inspiration from and celebrates the legacies which formed the beating heart of the East End,” says Nika.
As part of the collection, each bags comes with a luxury black passport holder with an accompanying story card inside, this is included as a way of saying thank you to the customer and giving something back for supporting Paradise Row and what it stands for.
Starting a new company has presented all kinds of challenges for Nika, from finding suppliers for everything from leather to hardware, to the packaging and to the photography and art direction. There has been the aspect of managing the supply chain as well as controlling the funds. “Doing this while still finding the time to think creatively about future designs and collections is a real challenge, but one I really enjoy it and I wouldn't change it for the world,” she says.