Although she doesn't necessarily care for the term lifestyle boutique, Sarah Gill was one of the pioneers of the trend in Ireland. "I prefer enhanced fashion stores that have lots of elements of style in them," she reflects, identifying the kind of store she had come across on work travels before opening her own boutique, Seagreen, in Monkstown 11 years ago.
Originally, she combined fashion with interiors, beauty, gifts and a cafe area. Five years ago, Sarah decided to refine the business. "I decided when my son was born to focus on the fashion," she recalls. Around the same time, she opened a second store in Ranelagh.
She may have narrowed her offering to fashion, but Sarah's approach is to provide her customer with as wide a choice as possible within her boutique, a "mini department store", she says.
"When I'm buying, I'm thinking of all aspects of my life as a customer, and of our customers' lives. That goes from dropping the kids to school, to going to work, to going out with the girls for dinner and drinks."
Wearability is her bottom line; these are clothes that will work with your jeans or your more tailored pieces; they are pieces that can be dressed up with heels and a jacket, then made school-gate appropriate with a pair of trainers.
"We are not an occasion store; we're not your wedding-event venue for very high-end occasion pieces," she says. "We definitely have going-out wear. But going-out wear you'll wear multiple times, on your night out with the girls, or on Saturday for dinner. We like to have the pieces that are wearable for all parts of your everyday life. Right down to going to the gym. I'm literally trying to think of ticking all the boxes in your day during the week and the weekend."
It was with this in mind that Sarah added a third premises, adjacent to the original Monkstown store, over a year ago, to provide much-needed space for this all-encompassing offering.
The Seagreen customer is probably a lot like Sarah: a busy working mum in need of stylish, practical clothes.
"We're living the real life, I suppose," says Sarah of her customers and herself. "I love looking at street-style bloggers. It's great for inspiration, and elements of those trends do follow on into everyday life at some point. But at the end of the day, we all have to live a life, and whether you take off your heels and put on a pair of trainers, it needs to be that sort of an outfit [that allows you to do that]. It's very much about wearability."
Sarah's mantra when buying is, "where am I going; what am I doing; how many times am I going to wear it; can I wear it by day and maybe dressed up going out at night? I'd like to think all of our pieces have that considered approach."
Her stores are full of the hero pieces that are the uniform of the mid-30s to mid-40s working woman - great jeans, pretty blouses and luxurious knits.
Photography by Louise Samuelson
Styling by Paula Hughes
Words by Liadan hynes
Fashion edited by Constance Harriss
Sunday Indo Life Magazine