Donna Ida Thornton is one of those one-woman whirlwinds who would have been successful at whatever she had decided to turn her hand to in life. Luckily for those of us who love fashion, it is jeans that she built her empire upon and remains its focus to this day.
The Sydney, Australia-born entrepreneur left her homeland back in 1999 for a career in marketing in London, but when she was out shopping one day she noticed that there wasn’t anywhere that sold the quality of jeans which she wanted, with the know how and customer service to match. On the advice of a friend, Donna opened her first jeans-only boutique in Chelsea just over ten years ago, which sold high-end denim brands served up with expert advice on the perfect fit and the right style for the client’s body – complete with an in store alterations service.
Not surprisingly, it fast became a cult-favourite (how many of us have piles of ill-fitting jeans stuffed in the back of our wardrobes at home because we didn’t want to venture out of the changing room on our own to try and find better fitting options somewhere in a packed department store?). And by 2012, Donna had launched her own denim-based fashion brand, which she named DONNA IDA, after her stylish grandmother Ida. “I saw a gap in the market for high rise jeans,” Donna says matter-of-factly, which came from listening to her customers. Each piece was named after a different type of girl, forming the ultimate squad.
Comprised of ready-to-wear pieces to suit all moods, using denim as a base, Donna tells Lumity Life magazine that her brand’s ethos is: “I have in mind the typical DONNA IDA girl – denim underpins her lifestyle, but she might add silk or cashmere and a heel to a fabulous pair of jeans to go out to dinner. Or even if she’s just wearing pyjamas at home she wants to look stylish and feel incredible. If I am just lounging around at home, I want to be able to open the door and look good.”
That’s a maxim that appeals to many of us, as ten years after she opened the doors to her first store, DONNA IDA is stocked at DONNA IDA boutiques on Draycott Avenue in Chelsea and Elizabeth Street in Belgravia plus in over 40 UK stockists including Harvey Nichols and we even spotted it on sale in Bahrain. The online shopping experience has been refined so women find it as easy to check out online as they might in store, plus her clever technical team have incorporated influencers with gorgeous visuals and clever storytelling with how to wear pieces featuring items from the new collection – which makes shopping on the internet as an immersive and enjoyable experience as it would be if you went to one of Donna’s London boutiques.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Donna’s busy launching a lifestyle collection this Autumn, which includes two very high end candles made in conjunction with acclaimed perfume designer Azzi Glasser (the first of which is on sale on October), as well as silk pillow cases (crucial for avoiding wrinkles), sleep eye masks and the star prints which have become the hallmark of her denim collection.
We asked her what advice she has for other women who are busy building their own business but finding it hard: “Just keep going,” she insists. “Don’t look at the competition, or worry about what other people are doing. Listen to your gut and trust your instincts.”
As for wellness advice, Donna tells Lumity Life: “I can be terrible for sometimes only getting two, or four hours sleep a night and in the fashion industry in particular it’s almost impossible to not go out every single night. However, I have learned that it’s essential to not go out every night, and that you must prioritise sleep – it’s the ultimate luxury and essential for looking and feeling great.”
And, as for the best beauty tip that she has to share, Donna says: “Smile. When you’re with someone, look them in the eye and smile. A smile really is your best beauty secret, it lights up your entire face, your eyes sparkle and shine and it makes the person you’re with feel good too.”
Genius. Jeans genius.
To find out more about Donna Ida and see her latest collection, (warning: Donna’s latest cashmere is irresistible) see her website here.