The idea of starting a business with a friend is absolutely terrifying for some, but for Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey, their friendship is the backbones of what makes their fashion label RIXO so successful. The pair met at university, studying a fashion management degree at the London College of Fashion, and it wasn't long before others recognised their spark. "It was actually the tutor who said 'You two should do something together,'" Rix explains, saying that it took around a year and a half out of uni before they actually start designing. After noticing a gap in the market - the lack of vintage-inspired dresses at an attainable price, the first RIXO sketches were created in the living room of the London apartment Rix and McCloskey shared.
"We would be lying if we said we knew what we were doing – we really didn’t," McCloskey said of the brand's beginnings. "Every single day we were just learning, asking questions and changing our minds 24/7. So the first year was a big learning process about what we wanted the brand to be and the product to the price point. We both had the same 'can do' attitude so we would go round to London and before we had any stock or anything, we just got our samples and got on the tube all around London and tried to meet as many people in the press as possible. In particular, it was the printed pieces people loved and eventually, it was the printed pieces that began featuring in all the magazines in London."
Given their young age - Rix, 27, and McCloskey, 29 - you'd assume RIXO was an overnight success story, but the best friends are open about the amount of hard work and setbacks it took to get them to where they are today. "We've had so many knockbacks as much as we have had success," McCloskey says. "We would get customer orders and would drive for over an hour and a half just to deliver it personally so the customer could have it for the weekend. We would go to the post office every day with our orders and would try to have as many meetings as possible with press and boutiques. We pretty much just did absolutely everything."
For a brand that's completely taken over Instagram, it's surprising that the way RIXO took off was by word of mouth, hard work and a bit of sheer location luck: "The Net-A-Porter head office was right down the road from where we lived," Rix says. "We had one little small boutique that was stocking RIXO and all the girls working at Net-A-Porter were like, “What’s this new brand”. Once they started wearing it to work, the buyers took note and called us for a meeting. At that time, we didn’t even have our collection finished, so they just told us to call them when it was done." Of course, being stocked one of the world's biggest and most high-end fashion sites is no easy fete and with it comes international recognition - "It just opened RIXO up."
Now, celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon have caught onto RIXO, something Rix McCloskey are still pinching themselves over. "We can't believe it, she’s our Legally Blonde hero! It’s amazing. Even just seeing someone on the street wearing RIXO, you get a little bit of a shock. When I was home for Christmas, a girl walked into the restaurant I was in wearing one of our first dresses. It’s even nice to see a stranger wearing our dresses."
On finding inspiration, the pair look to vintage, specifically photos of Jean Shrimpton and Jane Birkin. "When we travel as well, we love going to the beaches in the summer, it’s our favourite holiday," McCloskey says. "There are flea markets and vintage bags, there’s just so much inspiration there. Jane Birkin's style and attitude, always."
So, who would be their dream person to wear RIXO? "Mine would be Kate Moss because growing up I have always been literally obsessed with her. Also, being here (in London) as well a lot of designers do try to get Meghan or Kate. So I think that would definitely be a big career highlight if one of the two girls wear RIXO," Rix says.
For two young women who seem to have the fashion world at their fingertips, having Kate Moss and the British royal family join their legion of fans doesn't seem too much to ask.