It's not easy starting a business and It's certainly not easy starting a business during a global pandemic, let alone launching a flagship retail store! Well that's exactly what the 7L team have achieved in just 18 months under businessman and entrepreneur Jamie Lundy.
Back in June 2019 Lundy was faced with an enormous uphill battle, to launch a brand that had no in-house manufacturing knowledge, no experience in fashion and little, if any, branding knowledge. Lundy laughs "I've had many difficult life situations and professional projects in my career, but this one, was right up there".
Lundy initially reached out to a number of outerwear designers but finding someone to fit the mould, eluded him for quite a while. "My tick list of essential attributes was quite exhaustive but for me, the most important thing was someone I could openly work with. Someone I could sit with for hours and hours, pulling our designs and collections apart, rearranging them and pasting the back together. No egos just us.
Chris Vandrill had a pedigree, a background of graduating at St Martins in London, working for reputable and successful brands such as Finesterre, Rohan and Private White. Tailoring was in his blood, his grandfather handed him his first pair of tailoring scissors as a young boy. He was the last name on Lundy's list.
"I remember it now. I lay flat out on the couch staring at the ceiling wondering if I've ever find that right hand man. I looked at the list. Last name, 'Chris Vandrill'. I remember thinking 'What kind of name is 'Vandrill?' I picked up my phone and called him....We've never looked back since that call".
Lundy and Vandrill worked tirelessly to design and manufacture a collection that would be ready for the trade shows. Deadline January 2020, Florence, Italy. They achieved it, literally by the seat of their pants. United Arrows would later that year give them an order and launch some of their pieces in Japan.
Then in February 2020, COVID spread across the world like wild fire, causing chaos to everyone. Businesses, retailers, school's. Everything we once knew was about too drastically and dramatically change as mother nature decided to teach us all a thing or two about how small we actually are. Lundy says "No one has ever gone through anything like it before and I think it made everyone (for a while at least) stop, sit up and realise a few home truths about how we live our lives. It certainly made me think of how we've lost our connection to our neighbours, our community, our families and friends. It forced me to think about the local shops and how on earth we'd all fallen into the massive trap of the giant retailers and how we'd allowed our community stores to close their doors. We were just allowing it to happen and no one was doing anything about it. This is the point at which the 7L Store concept was born, giving our local community the choice to shop locally. Less carbon footprint, less road congestion, less hassle, less stress".
“Fait would play its hand and the acquisition of the store from destiny, necessity and need,” says Lundy. “As COVID took its unforgiving grip, our offices in the city centre of Manchester closed and we had to rethink our business model and strategy as people were about to start working from home.
It would have the space to work in and we'd be able to interact with the public which is extremely important. We are are inclusive, not exclusive and part of our brand values is to be totally transparent and to stand by our garments.”