Independent fashion boutique Ipswich – DJV Boutique
For many, running your own business in the city you love is the ultimate dream.
And Mandy Errington from Ipswich has spent the last 10 years making that dream a reality.
Mandy owns DJV Boutique, a women’s clothing store that has become a downtown staple over the past decade, celebrating its historic anniversary this week.
With 30 years of marketing experience under her belt, Mandy is no stranger to the world of retail. “I made my career in business, for various advertising agencies and local authorities in the region,” she explains, referring to the beginnings of the fashion business.
“Eventually I started working with the East of England Co-op and spent 14 years with them. And about half of that time I was in charge of marketing.
In 2012, Mandy realized it was time to follow her true passion and quickly set the wheels in motion to become her own boss.
“I wanted to offer something different to the fashion scene here in Ipswich. I started looking and saw that there was a lot of the same in town. There was a gap in the market and I wanted to offer something more tailored to the client. »
And that’s how DJV Boutique was born. Her first store was near Coe’s on Norwich Road, before she made the decision to expand and move to her current Cox Lane store in 2018.
Individual style is one of the keys to his success.
“Clients come to us for inspiration because they don’t want to look like everyone else or clash with someone else at an event,” she explains.
And Mandy herself is a big believer in standing out from the crowd – something that dates back to her corporate marketing days.
“I think working in a creative field, you have a critical eye. I always found myself wearing different things. I never followed a trend per se, and I always put my outfits together to be a bit unique.
And as you progress through Mandy’s shop, you can instantly see that reflected in her products.
Think dresses adorned with vibrant, psychedelic prints, tops for all occasions and trendy handbags. Even Mandy herself, when we sit down to chat in her boutique, is dressed in a cobalt blue blazer, paired with black and gold high heels.
“I like people to stand out. One size and style doesn’t fit all, but it’s all about focusing on that uniqueness.
When customers enter DJV – which stands for ‘bold, jazzy, versatile’ – they get the full boutique experience, where the team is on hand to offer advice and expertise.
“We always ask the customer what he is looking for. From there, we’ll try to narrow it down by advising them what works best for them, based on their personal style. We try to do everything we can to make sure people leave feeling confident in how they look.
Particularly on what she stocks, many of her pieces are unique pieces. And once they’re gone, they’re gone. “Most of the time, you won’t find our clothes and bags anywhere else. There are niche brands, but we also have commercial brands. For example, we are a French Connection reseller, which really helps us to anchor ourselves.
In recent years, Mandy has also turned her attention to eco-friendly brands, keen to show others that you can be eco-conscious and still look good.
“So far we have vegan clothing, sustainable jewelry and lash lines. We’re not there yet, but it’s a journey, and every little bit counts.
“We are also investing in local brands and businesses by allowing them to showcase their products here. If they can’t afford a full store, we’ll tell them “take some space here, and we can help you out.”
Mandy is always keen to give back where she can and has a long history of supporting start-ups and up-and-coming entrepreneurs. It does this by offering apprenticeship and mentoring programs, which aim to help beginners break into the world of retail.
“When we were based in Norwich Road I researched how we could use the business to help people. But it wasn’t just about finding someone to help within the workshop, I wanted to see how I could pay it forward and share the experience I have accumulated over the years.
Mandy got in touch with Suffolk New College, offering internships to keen students who wanted to see what working in fashion retail was like.
She quickly gained a lot of interest, as the role was not just about serving customers, but about understanding what you need to run your own business. “One of the apprentices stayed with us for about five years in total – three years as an apprentice and two years as an employee. It worked out really well,” she says.
During the lockdown, with all non-essential businesses closed for months, Mandy added another string to her bow and launched her own mentorship program, Ambition Mentoring, available to anyone in the area starting a business.
“I’m not someone who just sits around, I have a skill set and I thought ‘how can I apply myself while the store is closed?’ I studied mentorship and saw that there were many programs for those who were already running businesses, but I wanted to help people who were just starting out. I myself know that the journey can be daunting, so I I wanted to help people right from the start, by learning the do’s and don’ts of business, as well as how to save money and keep track of finances.”
With such a sense of entrepreneurship, it’s no surprise that Mandy has received a number of accolades over the years, including being named one of the UK’s most inspiring businesswomen in the top 100 F entrepreneurs: in 2021. She was also shortlisted in last year’s Suffolk. Business Awards in the Disrupter of the Year category, and this year she was selected as a finalist for the FSB (Federation of Small Business) Self Employed / Sole Trader of the Year Awards.
But with a loyal following and plenty of accolades to her name, what’s next on the horizon for the woman who shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon?
“I have a flexible business plan. I don’t think you can firmly say “this is what I want and this is what will happen”.
“But I work to explore the masculine side of retail. I gave it a try over Christmas and stocked up on a few menswear pieces, but the feedback I got was that the male clientele wanted the same vibrancy as the womenswear. I didn’t know it and I was going towards more neutral tones. I’m still learning, but it’s definitely something to work on.
One thing is certain though: Mandy is a firm believer in the power of the city center and won’t be leaving Ipswich anytime soon.
“I think after the pandemic people had the opportunity to assess how they spend their money and where they shop – and many wanted to go back to local stores when they reopened. After all, it’s local stores that have kept communities functioning and thriving during lockdown.
“So I want to continue to emphasize that there are a lot of vibrant independent shops here that we are worth investing in. I am an ambassador for the city and I like to promote it as much as possible. Our customers can see a future for us, and so can we.”
DJV Boutique is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.