The Dressing Room Oulton: Meet the sisters behind the thriving Leeds boutique giving back to the community
The Aberford Road women’s boutique is owned by Karen, 53, and her sister Katie Pitts who offer bespoke pieces for all occasions.
Now boasting a successful online store, as well as running charity raffles to raise money for local charities, the sisters began sourcing and selling clothes from Karen’s home in March 2019.
“We were lying on a deckchair in Tenerife and decided to do something a little different,” Katie, 37, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“We had the space in Karen’s house and we started it from there; it turned out a lot bigger than we thought.
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Karen, a former banker, and Katie, who works part-time as a teacher, have built up large followings on Facebook and by the end of 2019 had grown well beyond Karen’s dining room.
They signed the lease for their Oulton boutique in March 2020 – a week before lockdown.
Despite being forced to close before a customer walked through the door, and then facing further blockages, the Woodlesford sisters continued to grow their brand.
Katie said: “We try to offer a wide range of clothing for everyone, our customers range from 18 to 80.
“We’re not too into it, we have a mix of everyday and evening pieces but we try to go for classic and timeless pieces that can be a wardrobe staple.”
“And it’s personalized,” she added.
“There are only three of us working there, so you get a familiar face and friendly service.
“It’s surprising how many people don’t know what they’re looking for, so we like to chat to find out what people want and need – tailoring the service to their needs.
“We’ve found that post-lockdown people want to talk, so we try to make time for our customers.”
As well as running the boutique and an online store, which now reaches customers across the country, Katie and Karen have raised thousands of pounds for charity.
Their latest fundraising effort, a Christmas raffle, raised £2,700 for Wakefield Hospice.
“Hospice is close to our hearts,” Katie said. “We had a few family members there and we know how much support they need.
“We had an amazing response, over 50 companies donated prizes and the support gave me goosebumps.
“We were delighted to be able to phone the charity and say we had raised nearly £3,000.”
Katie praised the unity of the Woodlesford and Oulton community which hosted the shop on its high street.
“I think the lockdown has made people more grateful to local businesses,” she added.
“People feel safer because they don’t mix with so many people, but we also have a limited number of each piece we buy. We don’t want everyone in the village wearing the same item.
“There is a real community spirit, everyone likes to stick together and people want to support the local.
“The response has been really positive, the customers have been brilliant and Facebook has been a fabulous platform to grow our business.”
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