Chloe James Lifestyle, a popular fashion, gift and homeware boutique in the centre of St Albans has not let the coronavirus stop it throwing its hugely popular bi-annual fashion show.
A glamourous catwalk event had been planned for Saturday 2 May in the city’s 11th century St Albans Cathedral – which has the longest nave in Europe – to celebrate the boutique’s 10th birthday this year, Donna Nichol, the store’s owner, was determined that the show would go on. So she has mobilised her usual models, styled them with garments from her new collection, and given them instructions to create catwalks in their homes and send the results to her.
Donna Nichol will be posting the show in its entirety this week sometime and is urging the fashionistas of St Albans to grab a glass of Prosecco and enjoy a bit of fashion from their front rooms. The store had already announced that 10% of all its sales are being donated to the NHS.
Donna said: “We had planned a huge event at the Cathedral as a way of saying thank you to our loyal customers as our fashion shows held at local restaurants are usually sold out within the hour of tickets going on sale – so we wanted to be able to accommodate everyone.
We have rescheduled this Cathedral Catwalk event to October, but in the meantime, I wanted to put on a summer fashion show as usual, so I enlisted the help of my models and am excited to be able to give people just a mini-fashion fix right now. We’ll be posting the video on our social media this week, so grab your glass of bubbly and sunglasses and be on the virtual FROW!”
Mandy McNeil, co-chair of the St Albans BID (Business Improvement District), which is also the St Albans DMO (Destination Management Office) says: “This is fantastic, and shows how inventive and resourceful our independent retailers are in St Albans. The BID marketing team have been shouting out locally and nationally that St Albans Independent businesses have not disappeared, they’ve just gone online.
We created a virtual Destination St Albans, which is engaging, inspiring, and unique, which mirrors the vibrancy of our physical shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, and cultural attractions.
“I would encourage people to check out the enjoystalbans.com website for all the details about how you can still enjoy the city from your homes: ordering in food, drink, fashion and homeware; watching music and entertainment.”
Kinship Local helps champion local artists after a year of lockdown
Newly opened gift shop Kinship Local in Rowsham has found a positive way to help fellow small creative businesses whose sales may have suffered this last year.
Kinship Local was founded by small business owners Claire Ashton and Jen Burton, who have a passion for championing British made, independently owned, small creatives.
Lovers of good quality, great design, and an eye for the bright and bold, Kinship Local has been working with a range of Pop-Up Makers since opening its doors in June.
Claire explains, “We wanted to offer artists, designers and makers a local space, set amongst our own curated eco-conscious products. We wish to encourage local residents to shop small, shop locally and to support those who make in small batches, who pour their hearts and souls into their products. Step away from the mass made, and embrace the slow made”.
Jen adds, “Choosing to shop and buy from a small independent creative brings so much positivity. The Makers we choose to support in-store have a strong belief and ethic around sustainability and creating less waste, which is so important. Also, with the loss of income last year, it was crucial for us to help drive the local economy by supporting small businesses. We truly believe that you can buy beautiful, buy small and buy local all at once.”
Retail space along the UK highstreets is unattainable for so many smaller retail outlets. So with the support and belief of the team at Wild Raven Farm Shop, Kinship Local has been hugely popular and a happy welcome to local residents.
Since their second week of opening, Kinship Local has offered 3-4 Pop-Up makers every fortnight to showcase a range of products. So far, Bella Bowlicious headbands, Bethan Lily knitted cushions, Tweedles Handmade eco food wraps, Bridie & Bert Towelling Robes, Wild Flora Handmade resin wildflower jewellery, and Sarah McFloof painted pebbles and gnomes have all featured.
This week they welcomed Am & Flo hand-painted peg dolls, Magic Kind clothing, Jennifer Wesley cards and Immy & Boo recycled and repurposed fabric headbands, lavender eye pillows and yoga bags. There is always a mixture of products to inspire and a range of handmade gifts to give.
Pop-Up Partner Beth from Bethan Lily Knitwear says, “Kinship Local has been an excellent opportunity for my business. It’s kept me going and is definitely worth a visit to see all of the other lovely products in the cabin. Jen and Claire have been a pleasure to work with! “
“Since launching my products, both Claire & Jen have updated me daily and share in my excitement of sales and feedback with me….for this, I will always be thankful to them,” says Claire from Bella Bowlicious.
Whilst they are full until the beginning of September, Claire and Jen are looking for more artists and designers to support and champion.
St Albans’ favourite Chloe James Lifestyle prepares for reopening
As one of St Albans’ favourite destinations for all things haute couture, we are excited that Chloe James Lifestyle have announced they will be reopening this coming Monday 12th April.
Regular St Albans shoppers will know Chloe James Lifestyle has been a fixture on High Street St Albans for over 10 years. Despite being extremely busy preparing for the reopening, Owner Donna Nichol has shared her thoughts on reopening Chloe James Lifestyle and what changes fashionistas can expect.
What are you looking forward to most at Chloe James Lifestyle?
Personally, I’m really looking forward to the buzz of a busy shop again – lots of chat and laughter and the general feel good vibes of helping people look and feel their best. Nothing beats it! When we reopen, we are going straight back to our normal hours i.e. 10-5.30 Monday to Saturday and 11-4 on Sunday. We can’t wait to open the doors again and welcome our customers back in!
What new changes can we expect at Chloe James Lifestyle?
The shop has had a complete refresh. Every single inch has been cleaned and there are lots of new products for our customers to enjoy, including great gift lines and a new jewellery brand as well as our Spring fashion collections. One of my personal favourites is a new French fashion label called FRNCH which we are currently featuring in our window – the colours are just stunning!
We love what independent businesses bring to St Albans. How do you think shoppers will respond post lockdown?
I believe there’s going to be a real return to shopping small. After all, we are the ones who have carried on throughout the pandemic, finding ways to adapt to our customers’ needs, offering Click & Collect and always being at the end of a phone to help find the perfect birthday gift. We’ve even personally delivered them on a specific date when it was possible!
We’ve also kept our windows vibrant to cheer up the daily walk and many people have said how much they loved this. It’s become apparent to everyone how much small independent businesses add to their community and we really must make sure they don’t disappear!
About Chloe James – Chloe James Lifestyle is an elegant lifestyle boutique based in St Albans specialising in fashion, art, stylish interiors and beautiful gifts.
AKILA have joined forces with techwear designer Charli Cohen
LA based eyewear brand AKILA have joined forces with UK based techwear designer Charli Cohen to create Halo. A special limited edition capsule collection, AKILA x Charli Cohen Halo drops this Easter Weekend.
AKILA Eyewear are designed to last & handcrafted from eco-friendly plant-based cellulose acetate. Unlike most other eyewear brands, Akila frames are made from cellulose acetate — an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum based plastics.
Charli Cohen was born out of a need for evolved clothing and progression within the fashion industry. They specialise in NEXTWEAR: a concept that looks to the future of fashion, aesthetically, in terms of technology and in terms of sustainability.
ABOUT CHARLI COHEN
Charli Cohen manufacture limited quantities of each style in London, Leicester, Porto and Shanghai. Using premium, responsibly produced technical textiles from Milan, as well as upcycling from military surplus and tacticalwear, Charli Cohen is a brand to follow.
This frame boasts a retro industrial look that combines hard-edged style with ergonomic comfort. Featuring a wrap-around shape, all pairs include a barb-wire chain retainer which can be attached to metal eyelets on each temple or worn as a necklace.
This capsule collection drops Friday 2nd April at AKILA