This is our story, I hope it helps customers and community members get a understanding of our journey and our destination a little better.
Julie Lingard - Founder
After arriving back from traveling the world in my early 30’s I came back unsure of what and where I was going in my life, I had worked in the fashion and beauty industry previously, and at this point it was in my blood, but I knew deep down I wanted the freedom to curate something of my own.
At a family wedding I happened to meet a woman who would change my fortune and start me on my journey, she was selling her small boutique in Kingston upon Hull for £5000, I decided to buy that small boutique with the inheritance from my wonderful grandmother.
I named it Aqua.
Not long after I was able to open a second store in Leeds and begin my own clothing line,
Aqua by Aqua was born.
I had one goal to get Aqua seen by the world.
I remember knocking on ASOS’s door with a suitcase of 10 dresses, determined for them to see our designs and recognise my vision, the rest is history, we fast became the best selling event wear brand on their platform and was exceeding all our our wildest expectations.
I had a large talented and passionate team who helped me to achieve this.
We had officially established ourselves in the industry and I couldn't have been more proud.
But this wouldn't be a journey without some hardship and trials along the way.
Disaster struck on Boxing day 2016 the river Aire burst it's banks and flooded our warehouse with up to 5 ft, the damage was irreparable. The name AQ/AQ derived from the original name Aqua so it’s ironic the water made us lose almost everything.
We had to canoe to the warehouse, it took over 30 people 10 days clear up and salvage once the water had finally receded.
I was so proud of our team who fought with determination to stay afloat during this time (excuse the pun).
We had to start the business again which meant pulling our focus from retail stores to focus solely on our online platform.
After getting back on our feet to a semblance of normality the pandemic hit, and we faced our biggest challenge yet. COVID
Sadly we had to liquidate the business.
I felt we had failed our customers and my colleagues, I was determined to put things right.
Thankfully our government stuck by me and allowed me as a director to restart my business once this process was completed.
As I'm sure you know a lot of businesses small and large went under at this time it was something none of us were prepared for.
A Lot of these brands wiped the slate clean with a new company number when they liquidated leaving customers without products and without refunds , I couldn't stand for this nor was it something I was willing to do to our customer base.
We decided as a business to honor all sales and refunds from the previous company.
But in my naivety I didn't understand the knock- on effect this would have on the new business and our processing times, its caused delays that we are not proud of as we hate letting our customers down.
Our team also took a hit, we went from a force 47 strong to a now very small passionate team.
I understand that this delay and our short staffing caused us some damage in the long run, but we are focused on rectify this and getting back to our previous standards, this whole experience taught me a lot regarding business and in hindsight, I still would honour all sales and refunds as I value every single customer who has stood by us over the last 22 years.
We are female founded and female run, our strength is in our commitment to each other and above all our commitment to you, I would like to thank you for your continued support.
Know after 22 years of running a AQ/AQ this brand only exists because of you all.
We as a brand are venturing into new territory with our beauty collection and our commitments to sustainable practices within our clothing line.
We are no longer the large scale company we use to be but our dedication to quality and our passion is still the same.