“Always, always remain positive and never give up. There are better days around the corner.” Jet Shenkman, Founder of Eponine
You may know Eponine London first and foremost for the label’s signature couture pieces; which signal a heavenly riot of colour, print and tantalising texture. But, did you know that this celebrated, London-based label also offers a couture bridal service? Oh yes, they do – and BOY is it a sight (and experience) to behold.
At Eponine, couture lines are designed seasonally while limited ready-to-wear collections are also unveiled on a regular basis throughout the year. In terms of bridal, for Eponine, in the founder, Jet Shenkman’s own words, “the whole studio celebrates when we receive a commission.” And, the bridal journey at Eponine is truly an extraordinary one, from the moment initial sketches are drawn, to that final fitting, the entire studio works endlessly to craft that dream wedding dress, with that signature Eponine flourish. I managed to catch up with Jet Shenkman herself, to talk about her business journey and her version of Taking The Plunge, including the highs, the lows, the first jobs, the worst jobs and the tech she can’t live without…
#1 In a nutshell, describe your business/brand – what do you offer?
“Eponine offers a fully bespoke couture service for both brides and mothers of the bride (and grooms of course!). The design process with the bride starts with an initial sketching consultation and goes through toiles and fittings through to the final stage when we fit the zip.”
#2 What’s your career background? Has it always been in the wedding industry?
“I worked as a freelance stylist during our years in Japan and Hong Kong so was new to the wedding industry until three years into starting Eponine. When we got our first commission it was such an honour. We still look at each commission that way.”
#3 What planted the seed of your business idea? Did it strike you suddenly?
“We do not specialise in wedding dresses but the whole studio celebrates when we receive a commission. Since we are a couture brand we apply all the same techniques to the dresses we make for our brides. One of the members of my team is a wedding specialist in her own right.”
#4 Describe the moment you decided to TAKE THE PLUNGE (what did this involve? Handing in your notice?)
“The idea to start my business came during a walking trip with my husband in the Alps. I had just turned 50 and thought “What now”. Since I had a fashion background it seemed like a logical step to start creating a small collection. To my surprise he immediately approved the idea so as soon as we came home I started my research on how I was going to pull this off. Super exciting but quite petrifying too!”
#5 Describe how the first day of building your own business felt:
“I started the business from my home. At first I offered semi-couture, with a factory making the pieces, but that was unsatisfactory. I realised I needed to find a designer and tailor and built a studio at home too. I found my designer Petar who is still with us today and together we created two collections a year. We moved into our current studio and showroom in 2017.”
#6 The highs – what have they been so far?
“The first time the Duchess of Cambridge wore an Eponine piece.”
#7 The lows – how did you move past them? What did you learn?
“The Covid closures were real lows but we are happy and grateful we survived! We learned to never lose hope and continue to work hard.”
#8 If you could tell yourself three things when you first started the business – what would they be?
No.1 “Don’t waste too much money on building exclusive websites, they are an ever evolving thing. There are many excellent platforms out there to build a lovely one.”
No.2 “Don’t experiment with looks that are not your brand, stick to your USP.”
No.3 “Always, always remain positive and never give up. There are better days around the corner.”
#9 Your tips for those dreaded lying-awake-at-3am times? (Counting sheep? Glass of water? Getup? Meditate? Read?)
“I sleep like a log so I’m the wrong person to ask.”
#10 Your top organisational tip?
“I am hopelessly disorganised so I created a fabulous, small, team around me who keep an eye!”
#11 Who inspired you? Or inspires you in business?
#12 An app/piece of tech you now couldn’t live without for your business:
“My iPhone and MacBook.”
#13 Your first ever job was…
“Secretary, a hopeless one for that.”
#14 Your top social media tip?
“Post frequently, inject it with fun and colour but don’t show too much of your personal life.”
#15 The brand you’d love to collaborate with and why…
“Vita Kin, I love what they do with their beautiful Ukrainian embroidered fabrics. I wish I had access to that kind of skill.”
#16 Name a business/social media account(s) – that have helped/inspired you with your business?
“@collagerie, I love their fabulous eclectic mix of clothes, art and interiors.”
#17 Your fav social media tool: (Pinterest? Instagram? LinkTree? Etc.)
#18 Your advice to those brides looking for something couture in the bridal department?
“Have a really good look around before, make appointments and try styles, get to know what makes you comfortable and THEN come to us and get us to design your dream dress.”
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS | EPONINE – JET SHENKMAN
#1 Most inspirational book you’ve read:
#2 You’re in Starbucks, what do you order?
“I don’t like Starbucks.”
#3 Instagram feed crush:
#4 Your worst job was…
“Peeling tulip bulbs during a school holiday.”
#5 If you didn’t do what you do…what would you do?
#6 Work day pick-me-up:
“An ice cold can of Dash peach sparkling water.”