The secret to the success of the popular Cambs store on its first anniversary

Independent stores across the country have faced unprecedented levels of uncertainty in recent years with the pandemic and a cost of living crisis causing even more pressure than usual. However, in the heart of Cambridge, one store faced these challenges and emerged thriving.

Iris and Violet is an independent women’s clothing store that focuses on independent clothing and lifestyle. Their first store opened in Lincolnshire in May 2019 where it was welcomed by locals – in June 2021 the owners decided it could be replicated in Cambridge.

The store opened in the wake of a pandemic, but was encouraged by local shoppers who saw it through June 2022. A year later, the store celebrates its milestone in style as it looks back on a successful year.

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The tribulations of the closures have brought some high street shops to a standstill and a manager who oversaw the opening of Iris and Violet has spoken of the pride she feels for her birthday. Bethan Clark, Head of Social Media and Merchandise, said: “The Cambridge store was an exciting opportunity and we couldn’t miss it – Cambridge was a really exciting market for the store.

Iris and Violet in Cambridge

“There was a lot of uncertainty about whether it was the right time because with the lockdown there was so much uncertainty about what was going to happen in the future. But we went for it.”

Bethan explained how a mix of tourists, locals, families, professionals and students has been a magical mix to support the store and see it grow in popularity. She said: “Between all these different groups, there’s always someone looking to shop.

“People walk into our freestanding store and don’t see the brands we have elsewhere. Because the high street has lost a lot of stores during the pandemic, a lot of locals are really happy we’re here.”

Iris and Violet will celebrate their first birthday this Saturday (June 18) with food and drinks for customers to enjoy while shopping. With every purchase, they’ll give away a branded tote bag with a freebie inside.

Inside Iris and Violet in Cambridge
Inside Iris and Violet in Cambridge

Bethan said: “It’s a way of saying thank you to all of our customers for their support and we can’t wait to celebrate this weekend.”

Now they look to a bright future as their first year in business has seen them win numerous awards. In 2021, they were voted one of the top 50 independents in the UK by Grazia Magazine.

They were also finalists for Multichannel Independent of the Year at the 2021 Drapers Independent Awards and winners of Best Independent Retailer in the Rutland and Stamford Mercury Business Awards 2021.

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