Wednesday 27 March 2019

Boutique business beckons for Jodi with new venture

Jodi is embarking on new adventure with opening of boutique

Jodi Albert
Jodi Albert

Jessica Farry

When Jodi Albert arrived on Sligo shores 12 years ago, it was somewhat of a culture shock to the London born actress, cum singer, cum businesswoman.

But now, the Yeats County is home to her. Jodi, her husband Kian Egan, and sons Koa (three) and Zekey (five months) have decided to settle permanently in their Strandhill home.

The year 2015 has brought numerous changes to Jodi's life. Her mother sadly passed away in February following a battle with cancer, before her second son Zekey was born in May. And in November, the 32-year-old is going to expand the Jodi Albert brand.

"I went from hearing police sirens outside my door every night to getting up and hearing a pin drop and looking outside my window and staring at a sheep or a cow and thinking 'whoa, my life has changed'" Jodi says of her move to Sligo.

"It was so different. When you get sick of running around the world, we looked at living in loads of different places and we were seriously considering Barbados at one stage and then we looked into it, we still wanted Sligo. Regardless of the weather, it is such a beautiful place to live. It's a nice way of life. It feels like somewhere you can run a business without all of the stress.

"If this was in London I would be stressed to my eyeballs with the pressure and the way people talk to you. Here, everyone's been so accommodating and so lovely and so friendly that the whole process has been enjoyable.

"I think Kian and I do feel really lucky. We're so lucky that Kian is from here. He kind of said 'it was only when I grew up and went around the world that I realised how special this place is.' Opening a business is just to cement your feet firmly to the ground and enjoying life."

That business Jodi speaks about is her very own. 'Jodi's Boutique' is set to open in Quayside Shopping Centre in November, all going well. It's the first time the former Hollyoaks actress has ventured into this kind of business, but she's more than ready for it.

"It's been a dream of mine for a long time," she said. "I've been over and back living in Sligo for 12 years since me and Kian have been together.

"It was just one of those things where every time I came back from London all of my friends would be like 'oh my god where did you get that from?' I'd be like 'a little boutique in London.

" It wasn't that expensive, it wasn't what you think I paid for it.' They would be saying 'it's gorgeous. You can't get anything like that online or around here.'

For ages I was saying to Kian that I would love to go to London and just buy all the stuff and bring it over here for all the girls."

Since the birth of Zekey, Jodi and Kian have decided to permanently settle in Sligo, particularly as Koa is set to start school next year in Strandhill. Jodi enjoys working, and she loves being busy. Opening a boutique was a case of 'now or never' for her, and now that the time has arrived - her ideas are in full swing. Jodi's eyes light up as she speaks about her new business venture.

She's a girly girl. She loves fashion, hair and make-up. And not only does she want to immerse herself further in the fashion world, but she wants to become a part of the ever-growing entrepreneurial scene in Sligo.

"I feel like the women of the West Coast of Ireland are really into fashion and things are really moving fast. I think Sligo's such an amazing town. It's constantly on the up with a new cool little business opening. I felt it would be so cool to be a part of that. And to bring a little bit of chic London fashion to the West Coast of Ireland. But for it to be affordable.

"I'm not looking to do a big high end fashion chain, it's something that will cater to teenagers, Mums and even older."

Her philosophy is simple: Jodi wants to kit her customers out in pieces that won't be seen on every dog in the street. Her boutique will contain items in one of each size and once it's gone, that's that. Jodi wants customers to feel special, and that they are getting something that few others will have. It's not about big brands, either.

It is about the piece of clothing, and it is about the quality of that clothing. 'Jodi's Boutique' will be home to beautiful, high quality items. "It's an eclectic niche of a few different styles and pieces," describes Jodi.

And with trading beginning in less than a month, Jodi plans to be as hands on with her boutique as she is as a Mum. Service will come with a personal touch - Jodi's.

"I wouldn't be able to stop myself from being in the shop and talking to everyone. You're going to see me there loads.

"I've been excited to steam the clothes and hang them, it sounds so sad but I'm that excited about it. Steaming and styling the mannequins is so exciting."

Many may not expect Jodi to be so involved in the day-to-day running of the boutique, but she has no intention of hiding in the background.

"It's my business so I'm going to make sure that my utmost attention is on it and if someone would like some help or would like some advice then I would like to be the one to help them."

There's more to Jodi than meets the eye. She's done her research, she is fully aware of what running a business involves. She may be high profile, but Jodi is down to earth and genuinely excited about meeting local people on a daily basis.

With Koa in Montessori, now was the right time to set up shop, literally, in Sligo. Both Jodi and Kian have integrated themselves into society more and more each year. So much so, that Jodi has ensured that there are numerous locals fitting out her store and doing the necessary work in order for the boutique to open.

"I get to be a Mummy and get to go and do a bit of what I love in a place I love to live. I am a city girl but I don't want to live in London City. Sligo is such a beautiful, magical place that I am so excited to call home. I've been lucky. I feel like over the years, Ireland in general has been treating me like a bit of an adopted daughter and I'm so grateful for that."

"The creativity and the talent here is unbelievable. I feel excited to be a part of that. If people are willing to accept me then I would absolutely love to be a part of that. I think the people here are so friendly and so welcoming."

The laid-back vibes of Strandhill is partly what made Jodi fall so in love with Sligo, but the beach, the walking routes and even the live music scene have also had a part to play.

And while the pair, who married in 2009, are well known, their celebrity status doesn't get in the way of their daily life and they are left to their own devices.

"People don't care - it's really nice. They will say hi to you if they want. Kian always forgets that people might look at him as a member of Westlife. To us, Kian here is a surfer.

"A little kid in Koa's nursery was like 'your Daddy's on the Voice of Ireland' and Koa was like 'no he's not. My Daddy's a surfer'.

That's the life we live. People are great. We can make nice friends here and not be for the wrong reasons,"

For behind the scenes footage of what goes on in Jodi's store, or if you would like to check out some of the stock, but can't get to it, you can check it out on Instagram at jodialbert or on Snapchat at jodisboutique.

Sligo Champion