One-year-of-ConSept-on-Chelsea-42d8ba5e

WHY YOU CAN’T WALK PAST CONSEPT ON CHELSEA’S KING’S ROAD

Goran Svilar and Ali Samli are celebrating the first anniversary of their store ConSept, a welcoming treasure trove of homewares by boutique brands on King’s Road that you simply can’t walk past…

WORDS Mark Kebble

As the sun drops on King’s Road, ConSept stands out like a beacon, helped in part due to the wonderful exterior of the old post office, but also the lively music emanating from its walls. ‘I’d worry you would walk past,’ says co-founder Goran Svilar, at the door to greet me. No chance.

It’s a year since ConSept first opened its doors. ‘Because we are in a very historical building in Chelsea, we are not allowed to change the front of the building – and we don’t want to change it,’ takes up Svilar’s business partner, Ali Samli.

‘The doors are old wooden doors, and because they are wooden and not glass, we have to keep them open all the time. If you look at most shops today [it’s bitterly cold outside], 90% of them have their doors closed, whereas no matter how the weather is outside our doors are open. People find that very welcoming.’

ConSept’s founders Goran Svilar and Ali Samli

It’s one of a host of reasons, however, that has been enticing people in their droves. The shop is bursting with light, helped by stunning designs from an Italian lighting company Svilar and Samli exclusively work with. There’s a fabulous range of bone china tea cups and mugs, with famous fashion designers adorning them captured in illustrated form (‘We had a gentleman who worked for Karl Lagerfeld himself who purchased four mugs, which was a great honour for us,’ beams Samli). There are ornate mirrors, distinctive fashion designs and even little monkeys, ceramic designs clinging to pots around the shop.

Sitting in the store room at the back of the store – just as exciting as being out front, as these are the designs set to be unleashed to the public in the near future – I ask the two where they came up with the concept for, well, ConSept.

When we both moved to Kensington & Chelsea, everybody kept talking about how King’s Road used to be exclusive, unique, independent boutiques – no chains, no big brands. We felt that maybe we should bring that back

‘When we both moved to Kensington & Chelsea, everybody kept talking about how King’s Road used to be exclusive, unique, independent boutiques – no chains, no big brands,’ Samli explains. ‘We felt that maybe we should bring that back, bring in these brands that don’t exist in department stores or on the high street.’

It was the realisation of a dream for the duo to open their own shop, but isn’t the first business the two have owned. After meeting at Thomas Goode & Co on South Audley Street in Mayfair, they had reached a point where both their expertise (Svilar from Croatia, with a creative background, and the Turkish Samli in retail) came together in perfect harmony.

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‘The shop is the new baby,’ Samli points out, following on from supplying luxury items, running a concierge company and having their own real estate business. Experimenting with two pop-ups on the King’s Road site convinced them they had a winning idea. ‘Saying that, we struggled for the first six months to change people’s perceptions that this was just a pop-up,’ Svilar laughs a little ruefully.

There’s such a mix out on the shop floor – and a high end one at that – so did they know from day one what they wanted ConSept to be all about? ‘We were very clear with what we wanted to stock,’ Samli asserts immediately. ‘Of course there were doubts because sometimes you might be really obsessed with something that’s not the demand of the target audience. So far I am happy to say we have maybe made a mistake 10% of the time.’

‘That 10% was my fault,’ laughs Svilar. ‘I was buying things that I would choose, which was wrong.

‘It was a learning process,’ Samli adds, hopefully making his sidekick feel a little better about himself.

Their approach to designers certainly stands out, especially as they both decided to go down the unknown route. ‘It’s like the person you want to marry,’ laughs Samli. ‘You see a designer and their work, and you fall in love or you don’t. There was one designer, the House of Ronald, who we knew as a friend and it was always our idea that if we ever opened a shop he would be the first designer whom we would like to stock. I am delighted to say that he is now one of the most successful brands we stock here.’

ConSept’s bone china collection featuring world famous fashion designers are hugely popular

The bone china collection, in particular, is also a key reason for the enduring appeal of ConSept. ‘Over time we started a small collection of T-shirts and the bone china as a ConSept brand, because we realised that people wanted to see something that we had produced ourselves,’ Samli explains. ‘But we are starting with the bigger name designers now, but items that are not necessarily stocked everywhere around London and the UK, so they are more exclusive.’

It’s an approach that’s working, with a clientele that ranges from celebrities to royalty, via passers-by who are lured into the welcoming environment. With stock changing along with the seasons, visiting is always an experience, but are the two looking even further ahead at the prospect of more ConSepts springing up?

‘We were inspired by the old King’s Road we were hearing about, so that’s why we think this is the right location for us,’ considers Samli. ‘The locals already know us, the international clients come to Chelsea and know us, but life does go on and in the future we might open another branch – but it has to have certain characteristics that tick the box.’

‘I would love to have a few ConSepts around,’ Svilar concurs, ‘but we live around the corner and we understand what people are looking for.’ There’s certainly no risk of anyone on King’s Road, or beyond for that matter, not noticing ConSept.

232 King’s Road SW3 5UA; shopconsept.com

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