I remember how special it felt for me opening the door to the boutique every morning. A feeling of embarrassment and shyness; my name in such big letters out there above the shop, on the high street for everybody to see and then walking inside – this is so me, oh my god it feels like my home and by opening the door I am inviting everybody into my house.
I also remember standing in the queue of a coffee shop, just a week after we opened the boutique. As I was waiting for my coffee, I overheard two men in front of me saying, ‘Did you see the new boutique on Church Road? They put just one coat in the window, nothing else. They must be either very stupid or very clever!’ I blushed and smiled, people had started talking about the shop, my idea to keep the window minimalist seemed to have worked.
And I have to admit, this is one of the things I will miss terribly; dressing the window. I really loved doing that, all of the last six years, it gave me such pleasure.
We had many insignificant days as retail can be very unpredictable. It’s raining; it’s too windy; it’s too hot; it’s a bank holiday and everybody is away or it’s Wimbledon and everybody is watching Andy Murray play, the list goes on. Buying clothes is not like buying bread or milk. It can wait.
And we had amazing days, when we had no time for a lunch break and the shop was busy and buzzing. There were days when we had deliveries arriving and we had no time to unpack or price items, as they were being sold as soon as they came out of the boxes.
But what I loved the most was that every day was full of surprises. You have no idea who will come into the shop and therefore into your life. A customer came in a while ago and said to me, ‘You know Nicole, your boutique here is not really all about clothes. It’s more about people!’ I was baffled, what did she mean? And I realised that this was completely true. I love meeting people and also hearing their stories.
I might be talking to a fragile older lady, and as I was listening to her, I would find out that she was one of the first female professional pilots in the UK and has travelled to more countries then I know of.
Or on the other hand, a beautiful young woman with a very edgy haircut came into the shop. She was smiling and so happy and chatty and just as I was wishing to be like her, so young, beautiful and happy, suddenly she takes out her phone and shows me the size of the tumour they took out of her brain only six weeks earlier. I looked at her, felt humble and hugged her. I will never forget how we then both started crying and laughing at the same time.
Heidi is another special lady I love.
Despite dramas and pressures, there were many wonderful moments and I want to thank Helen, my assistant, for having put up with me for so long!
I feel very lucky to have made so many friends during my time here in the boutique.