We had a great run at our matcha pop up in Boxpark last week and during that time we caught up with some of the permanent residents to find out what it’s like setting up shop in one of London’s most distinctive areas.
Underated is a menswear lifestyle brand that opened in Boxpark 3 years ago due to popular demand after a successful concession stand in Topshop stores. They sell, amongst other things, t-shirts with attached ‘ninja face masks’. In a range of cool, muted shades they’re the kind of pieces I imagine a lot of boys reluctantly lending to their other half one cold evening, only for it never to be seen again (“I gave it back to you, I swear.”). Their mission in their own words is to ‘bridge the gap between street culture and high fashion’ and judging by their 70K following on Instagram and the queue out the door at their SS15 launch on Sunday, they’re definitely pleasing an ever expanding crowd.
Founded by the former beauty director of Vogue and the co-founder of Ruby & Millie cosmetics, Beauty Mart UK feels like stepping into a ‘must-haves’ page in a beauty magazine. Rather than listing the entire range of one brand or another, Beauty Mart only will only put products on their shelves that they feel are truly worth buying, a product which, if you haven’t already, should be having a life-long relationship with. And considering their impressive background in the industry, (and concession stands at Topshop and Harvey Nichols no less) it’s hard to ignore their advice. I for one certainly struggle to know what flashy packaging to pay attention to, so to have it laid out to me by the experts in the industry – if it’s not there, it’s not with having - is a great relief. Regardless of budget, you can be sure to find something that is worth every penny.
Tusch und Egon is run by artist Elizabeth Hurst, who supports other artists, established and unknown alike, to create a treasure trove of quirky and colourful items for the home. She opened her first shop in Islington in 2012, and moved to Boxpark in March 2014. She claims on her website that a lot of the things she sells can’t be found anywhere else, and her customers seem to be a big fan of this. Elizabeth is very friendly and relaxed, and she has created the perfect environment for the kid-at-heart to have a good old rummage and discover something special to take pride of place at home.
Bedhead have a presence in lots of hair salons in the UK, so I was surprised to find out that this spot in Boxpark is their one and only salon. Creating statement hairstyles here since April 2014, Bedhead sits well in Shoreditch, and if anyone walks in unsure as to what to do with their hair, most appear to walk out confidently with a brave new look. Their customers include the VICE team and many creative agencies in the area, and their stylists, particularly the colour specialists, have proven themselves to be some of the most talented in the industry.
Everyone I spoke to agreed that the best thing about being in Boxpark is the location and the interesting mix of people the area attracts. From tourists to residents, young and old, the place has a ‘good vibe’ and everyone seems keen to discover new talent and brands within these containers. The worst thing? The cold! Last week was particularly bitter, and I didn’t envy those who had their doors wide open to attract customers, along with an icy breeze.
Underated and Beauty Mart both have concessions in Topshop, which they both credit for giving them great exposure, and due to popular demand were able to open their own shops with a strong customer following already ready and waiting. Underated said that they have a lot of fans hailing Japan and Sweden, and Beauty Mart told me their customers are mostly female but cover all age groups and backgrounds from teenagers upwards. What they all seemed to have in common was a great presence on social media. Elizabeth from Tusch und Egon sells a lot of her items on her website and ships to all over the world and Underated (I know I’ve already mentioned it but it was very impressive) did a fantastic job of drawing a crowd to their SS15 launch over the weekend. Bedhead is a trusted and well respected brand and it makes sense that after seeing some of their amazing hair creations on their Instagram page, you’d really really want to do something different with your own hair. I know I’m tempted… pastel pink perhaps?
It was great to meet such lovely, friendly people and such a pleasure to see those trying an almond milk matcha latte for the first time!
We’ll be very sad to see Boxpark close, with plans supposedly set for 2016, so we highly recommend exploring these wonderful units while you can! We’ve just vacated the designated pop up space so who knows what you’ll discover there next week and beyond.