Selfmade Experts: Nazifa Movsumova on Modern Society

Nazifa Movsumova is the owner of Modern Society in London. In an interview, she talks about the hip concept Store and her career

London is a breeding ground for creative concepts, stores, and businesses. Yet the art of prevailing for the long-run is something not everyone masters. Nazifa Movsumova (35) succeeded with her concept store Modern Society, which can be found in the Shoreditch area of the city.

She and her team have been running the business since 2015 with a finely curated selection of fashion, accessories, and decor – as well as an attached café. With its entrepreneurial and holistic approach (and a great deal of subtlety), Modern Society belongs to the insider tips among London’s boutiques. Artists also regularly exhibit their works on the premises, including Berlin-based creative Sarah Illenberger, who recently showed her photographs there.

The eponymous in-house label was launched in the summer of 2016, which is being further developed away from seasons and is defined by a unisex concept. Collaborations with other labels are part of the Modern Society concept – like the most recent collaboration with jewelry label Alighieri. That’s because Nazifa Movsumova loves constant exchange with other creatives and it’s something that has always motivated her. As for herself, she came to the fashion industry via a few detours: investment banking, law, art, and a job as an analyst in the luxury market. Today, up-and-coming labels like Rejina Pyo, Re/Done, and jewelry designer Anissa Kermiche can be found in her concept store, as well as special things like Japanese porcelain by Hasami, fine pajamas by Desmond & Dempsey, and Bulgarian shoe label By Far.

We were able to ask self-made fashion entrepreneur Nazifa Movsumova a few questions.

New Modern Society Lookbook featuring Polina Sova, shot by Juliette Cassidy

Do you remember when you first had the idea for your business?

The idea of Modern Society wasn’t born overnight – it developed slowly and organically. Having my own business was always something I wanted to do, so I made diverse career choices throughout my 20s in order to find which route my startup would take. The idea for Modern Society’s flagship on Redchurch Street was developed after two years of running pop-up shops.

Was there a particular moment that made you realize that you really want to do this (and quit your previous job)?

I am not an impulsive person when it comes to work. Most of my decisions are very rational and logical, so Modern Society was well thought out. I do tend to work over any doubts I have and devise solutions for them before I jump into something.

What were the obstacles that you considered? And how did you deal with them?

Finding the right location in a city like London was key, and our location on Redchurch Street was actually down to being at the right place at the right time. My landlord was kind enough to believe in an emerging brand from the beginning and allowed me to take the space. The combination was quite magical and actually stress free. Building the brand and team from scratch were definitely the top obstacles and required a lot of consideration. I am still in the process of doing that every day as my business grows. I tend to be quite realistic about what my strengths and weaknesses are, so I build my team based on what they can do better than me. We complement each other perfectly. I have been very fortunate to have a team that is as passionate about the brand as I am, which was crucial in getting the brand to where it is today.

What has been your most treasured moment so far?

It makes my day to see people walk through the door and enjoy the atmosphere we’ve created at Modern Society. It’s a precious feeling.

Did someone mentor you or influence you in a positive way while working on Modern Society?

I am very close to my family, so I always turn to them for inspiration and advice. But in general, I am also forever inspired by everyone I work with – be it their work ethic, courage, intelligence, vision, creativity, or sense of humor. I am definitely a person who sees the glass half full rather than half empty, so there are muses all around me.

Are you good at asking for help when you need it? Where do you go to find it?

There is a huge creative community in London to tap into. I love asking for help, instigating introductions and offering advice too. I have met an incredible amount of people since starting my own business that I work with on a variety of projects, or that I hope to work with one day when the right idea arises.

What role does Instagram play for your business?

Instagram is vital to boosting today’s retail. It has been a great platform to find new brands and a means to expand our audience reach. Instagram is now also entering a new, exciting dimension where products are instantly “shoppable.” This will be a whole new chapter for how retail operates.

Where do you want your business to be in five years?

There are a lot of opportunities for expansion, be it international business, our own label, or online. I can’t say for sure where it will be in 5 years, but I love the element of surprise you get when growing a business. I say “yes” to the things that feel right and make financial sense. Other than that, the business will grow organically. I don’t want to limit it by giving it a single direction.

If you would like to find out more about Modern Society, visit the website here or Instagram (@modern_society_london).

Modern Society
33 Redchurch St,
London, E2 7DJ

Translation: Melissa Frost

Madeleine is a fashion journalist. For as long as she can remember she has been passionate about fashion and accessories, in particular cashmere sweaters and jewelry. After five years of working at Vogue Germany’s fashion department in Munich, she decided to encounter a new challenge and move to Berlin. Her role at hey woman! allows her to combine her passion for styling, creative directing and writing. Madeleine is also good at imitating a Swiss accent and trying to be a cook.

©Phillip Schlegel