Co – Founder, LVL London – Louise Powell
Time with the company:
Please introduce yourself & your company
My name is Louise Powell, my sisters Lori, Victoria and I are the co-founders of LVL London, a consultancy business with a difference.
We have a combined experience of over 40 years within the luxury retail sector. We are transforming the industry through developing the next generation of leaders, hosting leadership seminars, coaching, mentorship and delivering a series of bespoke training programmes to our clients. We are incredibly passionate about raising the profile of underrepresented groups within the industry and are working with key figures at all levels on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
What is your morning routine?
I start my mornings early, in fact, I recently became a member of the ‘5am club’… although I’m not sure snoozing until 6am still counts.
Then it’s straight to the gym by 6.30am where my trainer is waiting (so no excuses). I find consistency with exercise helps both physical and mental wellbeing.
I’m usually back home by 8am where I write my priorities for the day, I’m an old-fashioned girl, obsessed with making a list, so my notebook and gratitude diary are never far away.
If I’m ready at my desk by 9am, then I’m already winning.
How did you become involved with the luxury fashion industry?
I started in retail, working as a Christmas temp in my local House of Fraser store in Nottingham. The role was actually to work in the loading bay, however during the interview they decided to give me an opportunity on the shop floor.
Working with the clients face to face was such a great experience and I quickly caught the retail bug.
Keen to escape the small town of Derby, I wanted to develop and grow in my retail career. I made a list of the 10 most desirable places I wanted to work, all of which were in London. Harrods was number 1 and not long after securing an interview, I got the job!
After 10 successful years, I completed my Harrods career as the General Sales Manager of Womenswear and Shoes. I had a team of 10 Sales Managers, 25 Assistant Managers and 800 sales advisors including concession staff. The combination of fast-paced and high fashion, Streetwear to Haute Couture and all within the most luxurious department store was an incredible experience.
Not wanting to pigeonhole myself as a department store girl, I took on a role as Retail Director for Valentino overseeing North Europe, which was a brilliant opportunity and helped me understand the luxury market from a mono brand perspective; not to mention my love for the collections.
What was your journey that led to your current role?
My sisters and I have very different skill sets, but come together to form a powerhouse in business. Lori has a great talent for coaching and training and was previously the Learning & Development Director for Tiffany & Co, Victoria, as a Senior Client Manager for a fashion tech company who are fully focused on elevating the client experience. My strength lies in leadership and people development. Our skills are complimentary and ultimately lead to driving sales, improving service standards, and managing talent in the most effective way.
We were consistently being approached regarding mentorship and training, therefore creating LVL London seemed like an obvious path.
What is your main responsibility?
At LVL London, we strive to enhance business performance for the brands and individuals we work with. It’s our responsibility to identify skill gaps in teams and leaders, then work closely with them to improve results.
What is your typical day/week like?
A typical day for us is spent creating bespoke training courses for the businesses who we work with. As each business is so different, every programme is uniquely designed. Lori creates the framework, then our combined expertise and knowledge comes together to form the delivery.
A typical week will consist of creating programmes for new clients, delivering programmes through seminars or one to one coaching, and following up with any clients we are currently mentoring.
We also enjoy networking and socialising with other industry professionals. Most recently, we’ve built some great connections at the 2022 Expo in Dubai.
What’s the best part of your role?
The most rewarding part of the role is working with the clients we are mentoring from different backgrounds and industries. We also work with companies supporting the development of underrepresented minorities.
In addition, I also really enjoy delivering our seminars and presenting to large teams. It’s like a performance, a theatrical training session which the audience won’t soon forget, with tips they will use for the rest of their careers!
Setting our own agenda and scheduling our week to suit our clients’ needs is also incredibly refreshing after 20 years in a corporate structure.
What’s the worst part of your role?
One of the biggest challenges early on was leaving the structure of working within a seasoned business. Having worked for a company for most of our lives, it was an eye-opening moment to have complete autonomy.
As time has gone by, we have learnt new ways of working and structuring our time to best suit the needs of LVL London. Of course, we have to allow for any curve balls in the fast-paced world of fashion and retail, but we have grown to understand our best practices and what works for us to get the best results for our clients.
What is / are your most memorable work moment?
For myself it would have to be winning the HAFE (‘Harrods Award For Excellence’) in Leadership. Out of the entire Harrods management team, only a handful are nominated each year for a HAFE. I was nominated by the Harrods Retail Director and was incredibly proud to win. Being recognised for achievements during your career is such a personal triumph, the HAFE was a pivotal point for me as it allowed me not only to see the achievements in my journey so far, but also to open my mind to the potential possibilities ahead.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in the same profession?
Take the risk!
If possible, identify what you’re most passionate about and build a career out of it. I truly enjoyed the people development side of my roles and found that the most rewarding.
Working closely with teams and individuals to maximise their potential is a dream come true (without P&L meetings with finance, setting budgets months in advance or discussing rent negotiations on new properties etc.)
Of course, you should be mindful of the challenges you may face ahead, especially when embarking on a business venture of your own, and always prepare yourself, but absolutely take that leap of faith. For me it was the best career decision I have ever made.