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Kind Clothing from Frankie and Olive

woman in silk robe on red sofa holding flowers

Louise Rideout runs Hertford-based boutique Frankie and Olive, championing sustainable fashion and immersing herself in the local community – a key way for retailers to survive COVID and more...

Tell us a bit about your store and how you came to open the business.
The name Frankie and Olive stands for 'honest and green', it is a fresh, friendly, independent women's boutique in Hertford. Having moved back from livingin New Zealand for 16 years where Iowned an award-winning shop selling sustainable clothing and gifts, I quickly noticed a gap in the market for a similar business with an ethical ethos.

Frankie and Olive believes in Fairtrade, fair wages and safe working conditions for all workers and buys from labels who share these ethics. There are regular deliveries of thoughtfully sourced clothing and homewares offering quality, affordable pieces in natural, sustainable and ethically-produced materials.

Is the location important to the success of your store?
The location is just out of the town centre in a parade of other independents. Although the foot traffic is considerably less than it would be if located more centrally the costs involved are obviously significantly lower and it enables us to focus on customer service, which I would not want to compromise.

What challenges were overcome whenthe company was starting out?
When I was setting up the business I found it quite challenging to source the right products that fitted with the sustainable ethos that were available in season.

What is your customer base?
Frankie and Olive’s customer base is quite broad, often encompassing three generations, but the main target audience would be 35 to 65 years approximately. They are women who appreciate good quality at affordable prices with personal service.

What’s your USP?
Our USP is that we offer ethically sourced and sustainable products including locally produced jewellery, candles and artworks.

shop front cream facade with olive writing open windows to see inside What are your current bestselling lines?
Our current bestselling lines would be Fairisle knitwear, Suzy D Ultimate Joggers, Nkuku and Hertford Candle Co. products.

Are you active on social media, and how do you use it for your business?
Frankie and Olive has both Instagram and Facebook accounts. I use Instagram primarily as it seems to reach more of my target audience and attracts new followers. I use it to promote new collections and sales etc.

What brands do you stock and why?
The main clothing brands that I currently stock include Thought, Eribe, Komodo, Bibico and Yerse. Accessory-wise, I have just placed an order with Spanish company Soruka which makes gorgeous, colourful bags from recycled leather. Also some lovely baskets from BasketBasket, which are handwoven in Madagascar with sustainable grasses and raffia. I am looking forward to seeing the new range by Branch Jewellery, which I have previously stocked and have been selling Weaver Green products since we opened such as bags, cushions and throws, which are made from recycled plastic bottles. I have also been selling a lot of Nkuku products but am currently looking for an alternative supplier to introduce something new.

inside of shopping looking outwards mannequins with clothes on and accessories on tables How often do you change up your window dressings and displays?
We usually change the window once a week depending on new deliveries and stock availability. Customers often comment on the displays and come in having seen them whilst sitting in traffic, and I often put window images on Instagram.

What are your plans to develop your online presence?
At present I do not have specific plans to develop the online presence but know that it is something that needs to be addressed, and am constantly emailed by companies offering their services!

Do you undertake anycharitable initiatives?
Frankie and Olive often support local causes, events and business and are currently looking to champion a suitable charity. I also think it's important to champion sustainable fashion. We need to continue to educate and inform in order to enforce significant action and change in the fast fashion industry.

brunette woman in a blue knitted head warmer Do you attend any trade shows and if so, which ones and why?
I have just attended the Spring Fair/Moda trade fair at the NEC and am planning to go to Pure x Scoop at the Truman Brewery tomorrow. I will also attend the Top Drawer show at Olympia. There obviously haven’t been any shows for a couple of years so it’s great to get back and see what’s out there.

Are you looking to open more stores across the UK?
I am not looking to open more stores in the UK but have an idea for a new venture should a suitable premise become available in Hertford.

What has been your standout moment since opening the store, and why?
A stand-out moment was being voted as a finalist in the LOVE Hertford Awards last year and being asked to be the main feature of an article in the local magazine regarding the re-opening of the high street. It is great to be recognised and appreciated by the locals.

How has coronavirus affected your store/in what ways are you positive about the future of independent retail?
There has obviously been a negative impact from the combination of COVID and Brexit but there is still a lot of local support and thankfully our overheads are relatively low so we’re managing to weather the storm and feel positive about the year ahead.

What advice would you give other retailers?
I think the retail market is generally struggling and suffering due to the above and increasing living costs together with the constant competition from online shopping but I think and hope that there will be gradual return to ‘shopping local’ and supporting the high street. Retailers need to talk to their customers and find out what they want and give the personal service that they can’t get online.

What are your plans for the future?
I will continue the search for new products to keep my customers interest and possibly expand into footwear, which there is a definite need for in Hertford, together with my other business idea which I don’t want to go in to at the moment!

FRANKIE AND OLIVE
+44 (0)1992 677 150 | www.frankieandolive.co.uk

shoes, hats, candles, bag, socks on a table
assortment of knitted coloured jumpers on a table
selection of knitted sock on a table in a shop
woman on chair wearing a kimono black top silver necklace and holding a bag
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