Eliza Poklewski Koziell is a shopkeeper and style icon based in London. As the proprietor and face of Felt, a cult boutique frequented by celebrities and socialites, Poklewski stays true to her mission: have no fear and never be driven by money. For as long as she can, she will deal in jewellery. The sense of discovering something old always provides a new thrill plus, what else can one sell in a small shop? Felt, while inherited accidentally, changed the course of Poklewski’s life. She is grateful for the gargantuan following it has acquired as well as the fact that her business has no expiration date. Poklewski loves self-employment for the freedom it offers. Felt, unlike the corporate world, is how she mothers, makes money, and manages a flourishing retail business all at the same time.
When did the idea of opening Felt first cross your mind?
I knew the store was available and then one day a friend of mine said, “I’ll open it with you.” Post-film world, I had an advertising business, which wasn’t a great moment in my life, and then became a mother and thought, what the hell am I going to do? From the advertising business I learned to only work with people that I like, and the importance of being numerate. A couple of people wanted to back me when I opened Felt but I didn’t want that pressure. As I tell my son Oscar, “If you spend 12 pounds and you’ve only got 11, then you’ve got a problem.” That’s the only thing you ever need to know in life. Shop keeping isn’t about complicated algorithms. You buy something and you sell it.
What did the first few weeks of your shop look like?
I read a book all day. Nowadays when people launch a brand they do their market research and get their branding sorted. I had no idea we’d become a cult shop. When I found out that Vogue had written an article on us, I rushed around to put up a landing page. It’s why I look like a complete wreck in that photo.
Do you ever consider expanding your brand?
EPK: No, because I don’t want to manufacture more rubbish for the bin.
Got it! Were you amazed when all of the celebrities and socialites, like Kate Middleton and Cara Delevingne started coming by?
EPK: I’ve never seen why you should treat anyone differently if they have a title or are very rich. Maybe that’s because of my upbringing. I had a baby when we first opened and was too busy to look through the tabloids to recognise who was at the shop. I’ve met those people and am not intimidated by them. Some are born into better circumstances than others. Not caring takes away other’s power.
This conversation is an excerpt from the forthcoming book Word of Mouth: London Conversations