Inspirational Woman: Lucy Kebbell | Founder, The Vendeur & The WIP

Lucy KebbellI worked for around 13 years in luxury fashion, having turned down a place at UAL, instead accepting a position interning at a glossy biannual magazine when I was 19.

I couldn’t wait to get to it and I worked my way up through various fashion glossies, and for a number of notable fashion stylists, until a few years ago when I began to feel disillusioned with the industry. My goals no longer seemed important, so I pivoted to work in the sustainable fashion niche and in order to fill a gap at the time, I founded The Vendeur. At that point (2018) no one was really speaking about their sustainability journey in an honest way, and I wanted to help people who loved style as I did but who also wanted to learn more about being a conscious consumer. The Vendeur champions small sustainable brands, as well as sharing inspiring founder stories, clean beauty and ethical lifestyle interest pieces. I am soon to launch The WIP, a digital membership space for eco aware brand founders and entrepreneurs like me.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did initially. I was going to work my way up to be a Fashion Editor at a luxury magazine and keep the role for a few years maybe, before going freelance to make time for a family. Things didn’t work out that way but after initial feelings of failure, I am embracing my new career. Things have grown organically, and it wasn’t until the first lockdown that diversifying The Vendeur became an obvious choice. I am learning to go with the flow, but I still have a vision board to inspire me and keep me focused on my goals.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Loads! The fashion industry isn’t known for being a particularly supportive one, so I often felt quite lonely; getting ahead felt like an uphill battle. When I pivoted, founding The Vendeur, I had to overcome a lot of self-confidence and self-doubt. Issues I am still working through now. I guess my biggest challenge has been getting over myself!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Probably quitting my first stable job a few years in when I realised that it wasn’t going to serve me. That was a very scary step as I was admitting that everything I had wanted up until that point wasn’t what I thought it would be. My second biggest achievement is launching The Vendeur. Launching a website I built myself was really scary and I have had to learn so many new skills and still enjoy doing that today. Although I don’t have as much time to do this now as I would like.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

Can I have two? Passion and a strong supporting team, I can’t decide which is more important. I really love what I do, which of course helps when things get stressful or scary. However, I always credit my partner and friends with giving me the boost I need. No one has ever said ‘maybe you should just play it safe’. They always tell me to go for it, and in some cases ‘what’s taking you so long!’ I am a notorious procrastinator, so I need accountability buddies.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?  

I think mentoring is such a valuable thing. I haven’t really had much luck in finding my own mentor but I’m always on the lookout. I did my best to provide guidance to assistants and interns who worked with me, as I often felt that I wasn’t always given enough support when I first started out.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I think quotas are really crucial. I recently saw Ursula Burns speak and she is a big advocate of quotas for C Suites and Boards. It has been proven that by placing a balance of people from various genders, backgrounds and orientations in strong positions, leads to more opportunities for womxn entering and excelling in the workplace. We need to change our thinking around quotas as being an ‘unfair advantage’, to being a way to diversify companies and achieve more. If appointing a black woman helps more BIPOC womxn enter industries, then that’s a wonderful thing.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Work hard but make time for yourself. I spent my twenties working and now that I am a mother, with a mortgage, I wish I had travelled more, or just taken a few more weekends to relax and replenish myself.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is launching our new membership platform for eco aware brand founders and entrepreneurs, called The WIP; it’s a digital space to support all the amazing brands I work with at The Vendeur. I truly believe that when given opportunities to collaborate and share innovations and resources, we can accelerate the growth of the sustainable fashion and lifestyle industry. I hope that The WIP will become a self-sustaining platform where members learn and teach in order to better our planet.

We will be launching The WIP via a Kickstarter campaign soon. Something I’ve never done and am equal parts excited and terrified by. Please support us by signing up to be notified of the Kickstarter launch date. We will be pre-selling memberships as well as pledge opportunities for others to support sustainable businesses.

WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here

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