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'The trend of the past few years is good old-fashioned service'

Leonie Howe, Managing director of contemporary womenswear indie Berties in Northampton.

Having started our business in a recession in 1993, it’s safe to say trading goes in cycles. Our business bears little resemblance to when we started out but our team of enthusiastic fashion junkies (ranging in age from 17 to 56) are still up for the challenge of what each new season brings. It’s this spirit that has kept us going onward and upward and built our business into what it is today.

If any trend has emerged over the past few years, it’s good old-fashioned service - our client wants to be helped and advised on what she should wear so we offer free personal styling to everyone. We try to create a friendly, unintimidating environment and aim to put a cherry on top too, with bubbly and cupcakes on hand. It sounds simple but to put it all together takes masses of energy, as any successful business owner will know.

A few years ago, the obvious expansion route was to get another bricks-and-mortar shop but now it’s perhaps the online presence that is more attractive. I can see how daunting the prospect is and the potential pitfalls - namely buying for a client you don’t know, deciding on a budget and sorting out SEO. It’s a minefield but having made many mistakes we seem to be making headway. Here’s to the next 20 years.

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