We caught up with our founder and creative director Alice Asquith to share the story of Asquith, some of her favourite things and why trusting other women is so important.
What is your earliest fashion memory?
Sitting on my grandmother’s knee discussing outfits in Vogue.
What was your dream job when you were younger? Did you ever think you would have your own business?
I wanted to be a film critic. I loved Barry Norman’s film show. I collected endless film books and was completely in love with Paul Newman.
My father had his own business so I think it’s in my genes.
What was the moment that made you take the leap into starting Asquith?
I was working for Lynda La Plante as a crime researcher, very happily, but I wasn’t passionate about it. I realized that I had to do something creative and for myself. Then, tragically my beloved Grandmother died very suddenly and left me some money. So I decided this was the time to start something of my own.
Why did you start Asquith?
My sister was pregnant and complaining there was nothing for her to wear and I saw a gap in the market. I researched the market thoroughly but saw that women really didn’t want to spend money on maternity wear. But, in my research journey I found a huge gap in the market for clothing for yoga, which was slowly growing in popularity. But the only clothing available was sportswear, which I thought was just too sporty and synthetic.
Why do you think Asquith is different to the other brands out there?
I believe we are different because we produce beautiful, ethically made clothes in the softest, best quality fabrics; bamboo & organic cotton. Not designed so much for ‘sport’, but I design the collections for yoga, Pilates AND living in. They have to be functional as well as elegant and fit within your wardrobe and daily needs. I design for women 30’s-50’s and create flattering, comfortable styles not in ‘neons’ but I create a colour palette each season that’s wearable and flatters.
How do you ensure your collection always stays true to its ethical core roots?
By focusing on quality natural fabrics. I research new fabrics constantly and we recently launched our natural performance fabric Bambor.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people! Meetings with stockists and wholesale clients. I love showing them our new collections and working with them to choose the best mix for their needs.
I also love meeting yoga and Pilates teachers at events and chatting to them about Asquith and hearing such positive feedback. I love the marketing partnerships we forge. And I love my wonderful Asquith team; Katie, Katherine, Amy, Danielle.
How do you stay motivated to keep growing?
I love what I do. No two days are the same. I love the freedom and challenges that running a business brings daily. I also know many people love Asquith and I want to find more of them to make them feel good!
How do you avoid quitting when things get tough?
It’s never occurred to me. I have total faith in the brand, the product and myself because I know we offer something unique.
What are the secrets to running a successful business?
• A good team.
• Regular communication with everyone you work with; factory, team and clients.
• Great quality products
• Great customer service.
What would you say to young women who want to start their own business?
Research the market carefully. Talk to everyone. Other women are very supportive so always ask them for help.
What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?
My background was in the music business and television. I started Asquith with no experience in fashion, marketing, design, production, accounting or business. I had no idea how to manufacture, where to source fabrics, a factory or how to do accounts. I learnt along the way and I frequently learnt by making mistakes!
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Never give up. Believe in yourself.
If you could only live in one item of Asquith clothing what would it be?
Our Long Harem Pants. I wear them at home, for meetings with a jacket, for Pilates, yoga, when I travel and with boots to go out. They’re both flattering and supremely comfortable.
For someone that is new to the brand what would be your ‘go to’ item to try first?
Our Be Grace Batwing and Flow with It leggings. The Batwing suits everyone and the Leggings are perfect for yoga and Pilates and are so comfortable.
Everyone practices yoga for different reasons. When did you start
yoga and why?
I started in 2001 to help me switch off from a demanding job and to be more flexible. I practice yoga stretches daily when I wake up before I start work.
Favourite yoga pose and why?
Seated Twist. It feels good for my spine and I feel as if I’m growing taller.
Mindfulness or Meditation?
Meditation. I learnt Vedic Meditation over 7 years ago and meditate for 20 minutes twice daily morning and evening. I rarely miss it. It’s like cleaning my teeth. I feel discombobulated if I do. It keeps me calm, helps me be more creative, improves my focus, helps me to sleep better, be more compassionate to others, have boundless energy, I’m calmer, rarely feel stressed and I’m happier.
It’s an amazing gift.
What do you do in your downtime?
The movies, eating out with friends, cooking and going to galleries, I love contemporary dance, theatre, travelling, yoga, Pilates and cardio exercise. I love TRX, Barre and Spinning – it helps me to switch off, feel stronger and more energized.
Where do you go for inspiration?
The V&A. My grandparents lived nearby when I was growing up so we visited it regularly, I especially love the Costume Gallery and the Jewellery Rooms. But every room holds treasures.
What are your favourite London hotspots?
Numerous, I adore London, but I’ll try and choose a few. The tiled Tea rooms at the V&A, Hyde Park early in the morning, Sir John Soane Museum, The Coronet Downstairs Bar, Portobello Road Market before the tourists arrive – I live a two minute walk away, walking over the Wobbly Bridge to the Tate Modern to admire the river view and Barrafina for divine Tapas.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Other than London, Venice. The Peggy Guggenheim Museum. To live on the Grand Canal in Venice with all that beautiful art would be just heaven.
City life or country living?
City life. But my partner has a place in the country which I love. We go there at weekends to switch off, enjoy the garden, walk and read the papers with a glass of red wine (and crisps – my guilty pleasure) in front of a roaring log fire.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Family and friends, Reformer Pilates and BBC4 Music documentaries.
What is your quote of the day every day?
Yay! I’m healthy and alive. Lucky me. I’m going to make the best of today.
What is your single piece of advice to the next generation of women?
Always be open to listen to other women. Women will help and support you and you must help and support them in return.
Who is your Wow Woman?
Other than my Mother and Grandmother, who were both extraordinary women; creative, talented, endlessly kind, intelligent and with strong opinions but at the same time open minded.
Michelle Obama has impressed me recently. Her ability to connect with young women and encourage them on their journey is extraordinary. Watching her live life in the public eye at the White House with such dignity and strength is inspiring.