independent

Saturday 20 September 2014

Frock Exchange up for top award

Nicola Donnelly

Published 23/08/2014 | 00:00

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Louise Hanlon

A SKERRIES shop has been shortlisted in the Irish Times Best Boutique awards.

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The Frock Exchange was set up by Skerries woman Louise Hanlon as a new way to sell and buy designer new, vintage and pre-loved clothing.

Louise, who opened the doors to the shop on Thomas Hand Street nearly five years ago, said the business has gone from strength to strength and the nomination as a Best Boutique has excited her.

'The idea to open The Frock Exchange came to be around five years ago when I was off work,' Louise told the Fingal Independent.

'I got married and I had about 14 weddings in one year and I'm the type of person who only wears an outfit once. So my wardrobe was literally bursting with clothes and I came up with the concept of The Frock Exchange.'

The premises where Louise has opened her business has been in her family for five generations – since her great-grandmother opened Wall's Drapery in the 1920s.

'Someone who had been renting the premises decided to close their business down on New Year's Eve one year so I asked my dad could I open my shop there. I literally had €200 in my pocket to kit out the shop, made the curtains and counter myself and got the place open.'

Initially Louise had thought about selling her clothes on eBay but once she put the idea of The Frock Exchange to her dad, he told her to 'go for it'.

'When I opened first, it was all second-hand designer clothes, but now its 50 percent second hand and 50 percent new,' she said.

The shop operates on a sale or return period of six weeks, and should the items sell, The Frock Exchange offers 50/50.

'People can get designer labels for an eighth of the high street price,' she said. 'I get excited when people drop in bags of clothes as you never know what you are going to find in them.'

'We donate clothing to charity should it not be collected within the advised collection period. People who drop in clothes have 10 days to collect any unsold items and also to collect payment if its due,' explained Louise.

Some of the outfits purchased at The Frock Exchange have ended up winning Best Dressed Ladies competitions at a function at Clontarf Castle and the Irish Greyhound Derby.

The shop also has its own in-house milliner Mario Ruiter, who makes hats for customers or customers can buy hats off the shelf.

'I have had wholesalers call into me with clothes that haven't even been worn, some of which is liquidation stock, so people can certainly pick up a real bargain here,' said Louise.

Louise expects to find out whether her shop wins the Best Boutique Award within the coming weeks.

People wishing to vote for her shop can follow the link on her Facebook Page, The Frock Exchange Skerries.

Fingal Independent

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