The business idea came about when I was working on the trading floor, pregnant with my son, Paddy, and I was completely stuck as to what to wear everyday – the choices available to me were horrifying and a far cry from my glamourous pre-pregnancy wardrobe! And so the realisation dawned that working women were entirely underserved when it came to stylish maternity wear that was appropriate for the office. Spotting this gap in the market, led me to set about designing a collection of good quality, beautifully-designed, stylish maternity wear that was guaranteed to make women feel fabulous. That was early in 2012 and I asked Helen to come on board soon after. We then launched Madderson London in September 2012 as an exclusive maternity wear label.
Helen and I are old, old friends! We’ve known each other since we were 10 – we went to school together, we took the same A-level classes, both studied History at university, flat-shared in London and now run the business together. Before starting Madderson London, we had separate careers in finance and marketing. I’d worked in equity sales for Goldman Sachs for over 10 years and Helen had been in PR both agency side and then in-house at Microsoft for 7 years.
Fast forward to 2104 and Madderson London’s first womenswear collection was launched, bolstered by women requesting us to design non-maternity versions of our dresses. The Ophelia dress is one of our best-selling styles to this day and yet was an iteration of our first maternity dress, the ‘Nadine’. I love that we have been able to provide dresses like these to working women who need well-tailored, hard-working pieces in their wardrobe that make them look and feel fabulous but with minimum effort. We add beautiful trims and detailing to our workwear dresses for this reason: our customer is a busy woman who would typically have very little time to pull together an entire look at 6am in the morning (believe me, I have been there!) and so our belief is that we need go-to dresses that do all the hard work for you, requiring little accessorising.
And this is what we do differently from the rest of the contemporary womenswear market, which leans towards the bland and minimalistic – especially when it comes to workwear! We are more interested in selling a romantic, luxury product that is rooted in our love of history and literature and aligned to the glamour and indulgence of the luxury world. We aim to pour the same creativity, craftsmanship and incredible fabrics into our collections but translate these into a modern, wearable wardrobe for women with hectic lifestyles - just like ourselves. And because we operate as a lean, direct-to-consumer brand, we can offer our clothes at an accessible price point.
Our mission is to inspire women to be the best version of themselves by offering them beautiful, timeless pieces that play a transformative role in their wardrobe. Clothing that they fall in love with, that lifts their spirits and become their wardrobe heroes. By having a Madderson piece in your wardrobe you are differentiating yourself from other women - you are turning heads, you are getting noticed but in a really classy, polished way.
Speaking with our customers, we are always struck by how people respond to Madderson – whether it’s the unprecedented number of compliments received or the quality of the fabrics we use or the beauty of our packaging – women love the air of luxury combined with the fact that the product represents good value. And this is where we see the opportunity. Our customer base is huge, has spending power and is being largely overlooked because they are not the target millenials. And there are very few inspiring lifestyle brands with a real face or personality, that have achieved much scale or really captured this type of customers’ imagination.
This business started as a dream, acting on an intuition that there might be an opportunity for a British accessible luxury brand with a different point of view. We’re both convinced that this opportunity is increasing not decreasing. We’ve got this far with 5 children between us, living 10,000 miles apart for 5 years, stints with children in hospital and husbands travelling, because we are 100% committed. Entrepreneurship has been a completely different experience to my previous career in finance but so rich and rewarding. Best of all, I have the benefit of knowing what our City women need from a womenswear brand and we intend to serve them clothes to fall in love with and delivered in the most efficient, hassle-free way