Janine O’Keefe, Owner of premium womenswear indie Okeefe in Esher, Surrey.
An in-store fashion event we hosted in October served as an encouraging barometer for us in terms of the health of fashion retail today.
We have introduced a long line-up of new collections and refreshed our product mix considerably this season so the record takings we received over the two in-store shows more than made up for having to leave the shop at 10.30pm.
Interacting with the community is so important for us as an independent, since the loyalty and the feedback we receive from our customers makes us what we are.
This season we have returned to our roots and revisited some of the brands we carried from the early days and the reaction has been really encouraging. Our unique selling point is to offer customers something a bit different from the high street, so we are not carrying so many internationally known brands now and have bought into quirky and relatively unknown collections instead.
We try to react quickly when a collection is moving and so it is helpful if a supplier can support us with in-season deliveries and top-ups of product; Part Two and InWear are great brands in that respect.
It is important to inject the shop with exciting new pieces regularly as our customers rely on us for inspiration and in turn we receive their loyalty.
I regularly network with other independents and it is a common grievance that we now barely have six months with full-price margin. I feel the two seasonal Sales are too early and should start at the end of July and end
of February, but I’m forced to comply with the rest of the retail world and go on Sale at the end of June and straight after Christmas.
Naturally, we would rather have excitement over the new collections and have consistent purchases in-season than rely on the ever-advancing Sales and markdowns that seem endemic today.