EXCITING TIMES AHEAD…
Velvet ladieswear continues to go from strength to strength. Gail Bailey meets with owner Debbie McDermott to find out about the next exciting phase for the award-winning shop. Photography: Liz Henson
Ramsbottom fashion store Velvet continues to excel with its recent success at the Drapers Independent Awards where the most influential brands and highly respected independent retailers are celebrated. To make it into the final 10, as Debbie McDermott’s fabulous store did, is a huge achievement and indicative of a shop that is helping to change the landscape of fashion.
Debbie explains: “To get through to the finals of the Draper Awards, they do a very in-depth analysis of the business, so we feel immensely proud to have reached the final 10, in not just one but two of the 13 categories.”
These categories were Best Customer Service and Best Womenswear Retailer in the UK, and it’s clear to see why they were short-listed – Debbie epitomises the ethos of the store with her energy and enthusiasm for her business and for her team.
It is all about team work at Velvet and this is clear with the friendly, welcoming atmosphere you can feel the moment you walk through the door. Debbie herself has 30 years’ experience in the retail sector, covering several roles including training and regional management. It was after being head-hunted by a well-known high street brand that Debbie began to realise that she could run her own business and began the process of planning and sourcing funding to branch out on her own.
With the continued success of Velvet, Debbie felt it was time to do more and at the end of November will be opening a second shop in a beautiful building just doors away, in what was up until recently, a bank. This store will stock the Joules range and also include men’s and children’s wear too: “We’ve stocked Joules for a long time and always wanted to offer a men’s and a children’s range but never really had the space before.
“We are so excited to be opening a second shop and to be working even more closely with such a fabulous lifestyle range as Joules.”
Velvet are as loyal to Ramsbottom as its inhabitants are to it: “There is a real sense of community in the town and local people want to support local businesses,” Debbie adds, when we discussed the success of Velvet at a time when the high-street can be a difficult environment to be in.
Ramsbottom is full of a wide range of independent shops and restaurants and has been described in the media as one of the most desirable places to live in the UK.
Velvet’s customers don’t just hail from the town however and the shop sees new customers arriving all the time, as well as long-standing clients travelling a distance on a regular basis: “We have so many loyal customers who come and spend the whole day here in the town, and it’s that kind of loyalty that we are so proud of.”
Velvet only ever buy a small number of individual items to maintain exclusivity and they stock a wide range of other fabulous fashion houses including their number one seller – the Danish trouser house Robell, which continues to see customers returning again and again to ensure that perfect fit. Other lifestyle labels include Seasalt, an ecological brand who have a commitment to organic cotton and who draw inspiration from the beautiful Cornish coastline; Bariloche and Hettermarks for their range of outdoor jackets and coats, and Peruzzi and Frank Lyman for their beautiful evening wear – Velvet really does have it all.
Development of the new premises is well underway, and the excitement is growing among Debbie and her team. Already in a matter of weeks the plans have changed from occupancy of just the downstairs to upstairs too although what will be happening on this floor hasn’t yet been revealed – watch this space! The opening of the new shop will see lots of fizz plus free giveaways for the first customers, and the experienced team at Velvet can’t wait to share the new shop with their loyal clients.
“My team are as passionate and enthusiastic about the business as I am, and this is definitely at the core of our success,” says Debbie: “Our culture is very much about friendship and honesty and this is why our clients continue to return again and again!”
56 Bridge Street, Ramsbottom BL0 9AQ