Sharon Savage owns designer resale store Grace & Ted in Bath with her daughter, Emma (pictured, left), and is a member of the Fashion Association of Britain (FAB).
Grace & Ted is a mother-daughter venture and, as a consignment shop, we sell on commission and work in a different way to most other independent retailers. It’s true that it pays to be different as an independent. In Grace & Ted our customers can find quaint, unusual things that they would never find on the high street.
As a rule, we only take the top designer labels because they have a high resale value, unlike mainstream, high street names. We never take anything more than three years old and, despite this policy, each season we find ourselves with an abundance of wonderful, one-off pieces. Fashions change and designer labels gain and lose popularity, so it’s critical that we stay abreast of what’s going on in the media. Having an understanding of media influences in designer fashion enables us to react quickly and recreate looks on the shop floor.
Although we don’t follow the traditional fashion buying season, we take on a lot of fresh stock at the start of the year ahead of the new season. In February, we will be preparing for Bath Fashion Week, which has become a huge event here and provides a tremendous platform for the independent shops.
It takes place from March 21-29, but the build-up and hype is phenomenal. Because of the nature of our business, we take part in both the independent retailer and designer fashion events during the week. Both take place in the Bath Assembly Rooms, which make for a fantastic venue.
The sentiment behind the events is collaborative and is less about individual promotion than it is about selling Bath as a shopping destination.
The last two shows we participated in were fantastic. The day after we had a lot of people visit us for the first time and the majority made purchases.
My experience in this sector is that you have to make your shopping environment an enjoyable and special experience. My daughter, Emma, manages the marketing side and drives the business forward in that direction. At the end of the day, an independent retailer needs to be able to think on their feet and have a good support network.