We had the good fortune of connecting with Portia Shaw and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Portia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
So, our business is a fashion and beauty agency called The POP Group, we have been trading for 11 years in the UK and 4 in California. The pandemic started after 18 months of successful trading in LA, and we were hit hard, loosing over 80% if our business over night. Consumers were only buying loungewear or active wear, and a lot of the brands we worked with specializes in occasion wear, so the need for our services dropped. We started our business as we wanted to provide exposure for independent brands, and we have incredible contacts who have dressed Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood, Kim Kardashian as well as media placements in Vogue, Dazed & Confused, Hollywood Reporter and more – it was time for us to turn the game upside down.
We decided to launch a new service, a members only online platform called IN-HOUSE. It acts as a marketplace for brands who want their designs to be available to celebrity and editorial stylists/editors across the USA and UK. The brands on IN-HOUSE manage their own sample requests and liaise directly with the stylists/editors (members) to generate coverage. The great news is that it provides a service which previously was only available via a showroom, running parallel across our London and LA studios.
It has completely changed the format of our business; it opens the doors to brands needing exposure but who want to be able to independently decide without an agency choosing for them. We started this as we saw a gap in the market, where a reputable agency makes their legit contacts available to these businesses, whilst at the same time providing more product options for our black book which we have built up over the last decade.
We had been looking to take our business to the next level for some time, but were unsure what direction to go in. Building the platform has been a long journey, and one that will never really end as technology evolves all the time. But we just knew the market needed this. IN-HOUSE launched 2 months ago and has generated thousands of product requests, meaning lots of members requesting lots of brand’s products for photoshoots and celebrity placements.
Ultimately from the get-go of building this, it felt right to our core, we knew we were onto something and continue to strive to make it better for the community which we are growing and nurturing. To anyone thinking about starting a business, our advice would be to really listen to your gut, we had plenty of ideas which ultimately didn’t sit right, but you will know when you are onto something.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We’ve often been described as the underdogs of our industry; for one we are well known for putting on shows during London Fashion Week (we have 10 on in September 22!). Our two showrooms work side by side as they share brands so there is a lot of communications which happens between both locations. Of course, we are excited and proud about IN-HOUSE, we have and continue to spend hours vetting not only the brands on the platform but the members as well to make sure everyone works harmoniously.
Being kind has always been at the forefront of what we do, it doesn’t matter what level someone is who we speak to as you never know where their journey is taking them. Owning a business is never easy, challenges come and go, and that’s a given, it’s taken us 11 years to get to where we are today, and we have so much more which we want to achieve.
We’re a small but mighty team, who know how to have a good laugh, work for us is not like work for many as we genuinely care about our colleagues and clients. Our business is in the fortunate place that we get to chose who we work with and for. We’ll always put our best foot forward no matter what, we love to be able to toot our own horn so the better the job we do the louder we’ll sound that horn. If you are looking for representation for your business and what some transparent advice then our door is wide open to you at any time.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Our best friends have been to stay with us and on our list is ….
American Beauty in Venice for food, everything is INSANE on the menu, their cocktails are next level, and the vibe is chilled and easy.
Shopping would have to be in Venice as well, Abbot Kinney has everything from hair, beauty, and homewares, one of our favorite salons for all things hair would be High Brow Hippie, the owners are next level amazingness! Ice cream at Salt + Straw, that’s a must for their seasonal flavors, the queue is worth the wait for sure.
For sunsets, tacos and margueritas we would head to Sunsets in Malibu, ocean view, reasonably priced great food and a fun vibe, the venue is named after the sunsets you get to watch whilst you dine.
If you are in Malibu check out Malibu Riders for canyon horseback riding, they have plenty of tracks to choose from and the guides are wonderful.
If you go to Trancus Market in Malibu on a Friday from 5:30pm they have free live bands playing, pitch up early with a picnic blanket and bring your own food and drinks, the night goes on until around 10pm.
Hollywood has plenty of must try restaurants, Catch is a favorite for anyone visiting, the food is sublime, best Martini on Melrose in our opinion.
Wasteland on Melrose has great vintage finds, if you like to sift through rails of amazing clothes then you need to check these guys out.
And finally, an afternoon wondering through Topanga, where they have our favorite all time milliner Busto + Sun custom hats, they’re not cheap but they are custom and for life! We love supporting small business, so he definitely gets a working girls round of applause from us.
Clearly by our suggestions we eat, drink and shop way too much!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Our shout-out goes to the stylists, editors and brands that come in and out of our showrooms and inboxes each day, without them we would be nothing. We appreciate everything about them, we learn so much from their feedback and we are consistently inspired by the creative shoots they put out there.
All Images from The POP Group