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Tailor made

The style magazines say that when it comes to fashion, music and art, London is where it's at.

Which means that sharply dressed 29-year-old Rodney Reid is in theright place at the right time. Malapa, the clothesshop he runs with partner Sharon Cowan in up-and-coming Clerkenwell, sells the work of Britain's hippest young designers. Four months after it opened, Malapa is riding the crest of London's fashion renaissance.

For Rodney, themotivation for starting his own business was to get some reward for his hard work. "I have had more jobs than I can remember. One of the reasons for setting up on my own was that I have a problem working for other people. I'm very industrious but I never got more than a wage packet at the end of the week. So I was looking for something that I could put my all into. "

Disillusioned with their day jobs, Rodney and Sharon started to take stock of their situation. "Things weren't really happening for us, so we decided to step back and see what we could do." They toyed with the idea of starting their own label but decided to put their joint retail experience to good use and open a shop.

They approached the Prince's Trust with a rough business plan ("It needed a bit of tailoring.") and then spent a year researching the rag trade, identifying their customer base and planning the shop's interior before opening for business in July.

Rodney says it has been hard work - "I could never have done it all on my own" - and there has been a lot to learn. Nothing he learned at school or college prepared him for the daily realities of self-employment, he says.

At the moment Malapa, in Clerkenwell Road, is attracting lots of admiring glances from the trade press and from clientele from far and wide. "There is a lot of focus on London and UK designersat the moment, and we get fashion-conscious Japanese and American tourists coming all this way just to see what's going on."

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