Jane Wiest is an ex-City mergers & acquisitions specialist, now Founder and Director of ‘Initially London’.  An American ex-pat in London for the past twenty three years, she is a lifelong monogramming fanatic; here we discuss the inspiration and motivation behind her hugely successful brand…

Our clients appreciate the luxurious touch that embroidery offers and knowing that their purchase is unique and made-to-order; we offer a design experience that makes shopping with us quite different than any other retailer…”

Jane Wiest, Founder & Director of Initially London

NS: “Jane, what‘s the back story to your brand and what originally inspired you to create a bespoke monogram company in London?”

JW: “I’m originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a small town community in the heart of Amish country in America;  I lived in New York City for twelve years before relocating to London in 1999 with my job – and also because of my husband’s job; we were both bankers and there was a lot of movement between New York and London at that time. I left banking when my third child was born and, after my fourth was born, went back to work in the non-profit sector, fundraising and serving as a trustee for various charities. When my youngest daughter went off to boarding school, I decided to return to paid work and considered returning to the City, however after only a couple of afternoons in an airless conference room in Canary Wharf, I was convinced it was time to build something of my own and be my own boss! While on holiday in Florida, a ‘Mark & Graham’ catalogue came through the door and I had a ‘lightbulb moment’ – the American subsidiary of ‘Pottery Barn’ sells a full range of monogrammed gifts that I was often purchasing and shipping to the UK – I had looked for American-style monogramming here in London and couldn’t find it, so I decided to set up a monogramming business myself… and ‘Initially London’ was the result!

As a teenager in America, I wore monogrammed cardigans and carried monogrammed Bermuda bags, then as an adult I furnished almost every room in my home in monogrammed linens, pillows, bags and more! When I moved to London from New York, I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a monogramming shop in London where I could browse the latest font styles and buy monogrammed gifts…”

Jane Wiest, Founder & Director of Initially London

JW: “I started ‘Initially London’, inspired not just by my American obsession but also by the historic tradition of monogramming in England and throughout Europe; not a day goes by when I don’t spy a great monogram on the streets of London; it’s exciting to marry American-style monogramming with the traditional roots of the craft here in the UK…”

The publisher and brand expert Kate Slesinger profiled us in Vanity Fair; that totally unsolicited piece came about after a journalist at Conde Nast, who was an enthusiastic and regular client of Initially London, put us forward for it!”

Jane Wiest, Founder & Director of Initially London

Leopard print bespoke monogrammed bag for Nicky Summer seen at Ralph Lauren terrace restaurant, Paris

NS: “What type of projects do you typically undertake and where do you sell your items?”

JW: “The most high profile projects ‘Initially London’ has worked on include gifts and monogrammed linens for royal families located within the UK and Europe, white label monogramming for luxury brands, monogrammed linens for press and VIP events for luxury brands, corporate gifting for a Wimbledon corporate sponsor, Middle Eastern interior design projects, wedding napkins for events at some of London’s finest hotels. The most VIP projects tend to have non-disclosure agreements, so we can’t give details of them – we are very lucky to have truly exceptional clients…”

JW: “We sell online, have exhibited our monogrammed linens at the Top Drawer fair and we’re currently evaluating several additional online trade platforms. We also host in-house events and they’ve included studio ‘open days’, ‘bring-your-own-goods’ monogramming events, ‘pop-ups’ that include other retailers, children’s birthday parties, and an annual sample sale…”

‘Initially London’ – originally homed in my basement in Chelsea – is now based in a busy studio in Parsons Green, Fulham (above, left) with a team of skilled creatives who design, etch and embroider, making each order as it arrives, completely bespoke…”

Jane Wiest, Founder & Director of Initially London

NS: “Have you worked on any super-yacht, hotel or villa projects?”

JW: “We have! Mainly providing monogrammed linens or accessories such as monogrammed straw baskets, etched bottles, beach towels, etc.  We’re currently talking to several hotels about offering monogrammed pillowcases for their VIP clients. We do work with a number of interior designers and we’d love to do more in this sector; we’d really like to be the ‘go-to’ source for monogramming in the UK…”

The typical ‘Initially London‘ customer is a thoughtful gift-giver; someone who likes to travel and entertain, is house proud and concerned about craftsmanship. Our most popular items are travel bags, including wash bags and soft holdalls, yoga mats (above, right), linen napkins (as below, with bespoke pet embroidery), leather luggage tags and our straw baskets – all monogrammed, of course!”

Jane Wiest, Founder & Director of Initially London

WEBSITE: http://www.initiallylondon.com

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