Adventure Accomplished


Close your eyes and jump! I said to myself as I hit the *Book Now* button on a 10-day solo trip to Bali. I wanted my very own adventure, just for me. I wanted to become my own best friend and learn to rely on myself, but I was also kinda terrified. New territory, new terrain, somewhere as far away as possible where all I recognised was the skin on the back of my hands. A self-proposed challenge, I faced it fuelled by a whole heap of anxiety and anticipation. I wanted to do this to grow. I had to.

Bali, well, it bloomin’ embraced me. New sights, sounds and smells surrounded me so densely that I didn’t have a chance to feel alone. Engulfed by new experiences, my eagerness to explore replaced the doubts which had dominated, my senses were too preoccupied with pleasure. I based myself in Ubud, a haven of Hindu traditions. Green, green rice fields, temples and streets strewn with the prettiest Canang Sari; twice daily handmade flowery offerings to the gods, thanking them for peace. Such a calm pace of life I could hardly even contemplate for life back home, their dedication to devotion defied my usually busy life. This calmness was the coolest feeling I have ever had.
image-5Walking the patchy pavements avoiding holes and uneven surfaces, I felt I was forever stepping carefully over these sweet scattered offerings, so many that the streets looked like they’d been littered with Party Poppers, explosions of cute colour at my feet. Scooters swarmed like mosquitoes, injecting a rush of activity, Mothers straddling bikes, no helmets, with children held on laps, trusting their own way of life. Markets had a super stench in the heat. Leather, spice and sweat coupled with constant calls to buy, all stimulating my senses to the point where, I could not stop smiling.

I visited a Hindu healer, with no idea what it would hold. After him repeatedly banging hard on my head and pushing his thumbs so forcefully into my closed eyes that I wondered if it was a joke, he told me, I had to be my own hero.

As I spent my last evening watching the sunset at Tanah Lot, I took it all in, every single bit of it. I’d had monkeys on my head, eaten fruits I’d never heard of, shared a bedroom with lizards and lingered with locals. I had done this, I had navigated my own adventure. Faraway from anyone I knew, I felt an intrepid confidence blooming. Teaming tour groups around me, selfie sticks obstructing the view, and with a somewhat hands-on tour guide trying to sit too close, I caught on to just how far I’d come. I realised right there, I already was my own hero.

A Dress From Audrey’s Wardrobe

I, have been working in vintage fashion for over 15 years now, and, by far, one of the things I MOST love about vintage is the history and stories behind the clothes. I adore the fact that many of these dresses have been around longer then I have been alive, have lived a life, enjoyed outings and been loved by others before me. I especially relish in a dress when I find out who it once belonged to and where it has been before it arrived in my hands. I love pink, I love gold and I love vintage dresses, so, my heart skipped a beat when I came across this amaaaazing sugar pink and gold satin brocade cocktail dress. I saw this beauty on eBay and, to be honest, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, it had captured me and I knew I needed to make it mine. I’m a determined girl and that dress wasn’t going to go anywhere except for my closet. It was destiny for sure. I bought the dress, hitting the ‘buy it now’ button without hesitation, I knew that it and I would be a perfect match. Helen, who sold it to me messaged me straight away explaining that it had belonged to her Mother, Audrey Watson, and that it was a part of her huge collection of clothing that she had lovingly collected throughout her lifetime and that she hoped I would love it as much as her Mother had; that it had been a hard one to let go of. It immediately added charm to the dress that I now knew who it had belonged to. Then it arrived. It fitted me as if it had been tailored just for me and I knew it was gonna go straight into my own personal collection of vintage dresses that I will never be able to part with. It is a pure stunner. I love it so much I included in in my collection of dresses recently showcased in The Vintage Show as part of Norwich Fashion Week, I just had to show it off. In the package with the dress, Helen kindly enclosed a copy of an article in Saga magazine about Audrey and her vast collection of clothing. I was thrilled to know more about the previous owner and hurriedly messaged Helen to tell her that I loved the dress even more than I thought I would and to ask if she could let Audrey know that it will be forever cherished. She was delighted, I was delighted, and I hope Audrey was delighted too, that her dress had found a new happy owner. IMG_9870



Would ya just look at the beauty? Isn’t it pretty? Made by ‘Marjon Couture’, I discovered that Audrey bought this dream dress in 1962 in a small shop in Sleaford, in a sale, she actually bought two of the same dress and took apart the second in order to make a matching jacket. Oh my. Imagine the days when there was more than one of these dresses on the rail! Audrey will be 88 years old in May this year and during her life so far she has amassed thousands of items of fashion including dresses, jumpsuits, jewellery and shoes. Just imagine! What a fashionable gal! Her collection has even caught the eye of vintage lover Wayne Hemingway, that’s how great her archives are! During the 60’s and 70’s Audrey made many trips from her home in Lincolnshire down to London to hit the boutiques on the King’s Road and Carnaby Street. How I would adore to ask her about all her memories; “I went for clothes that stood out and were unusual rather than a particular label. I didn’t want to look like everyone else” she said to Saga Magazine. The interview in Saga goes on to say that ‘One outfit was rarely enough. Audrey used to put several in the car boot in case she changed her mind halfway through the evening’, she sounds like a true fashion dream! The majority of Audrey’s collection has now been auctioned off and is now being worn by a new generation, you can see more of the story on the Facebook page that Helen has set up. It turns out that Audrey never actually wore this pink dress, so I will be the first person, after all these years, to wear it, and I cannot wait. It has been cared for and saved by Audrey until it found it’s new owner; meeee! Thank you Audrey for this dress, it will be truly treasured. “All my clothes have memories attached” said Audrey, and now it will be making new memories with me. I couldn’t love it more.

Here’s some gorgeous pictures of Audrey and her love for fashion!





First image by Anna Gowthorpe, images of Audrey by kind permission of Helen and her Facebook page

An American Adventure

I’m back! Back from a holiday that was brilliant beyond words! Having had our shop in Norwich for so long, James and I had to always take separate, if any, holidays and so finally we got to take one together; and my goodness it was good! We decided we were gonna take a holiday to celebrate James’ big birthday and then when our beautiful friends who live in NYC announced that they were getting hitched in the middle of Moab Desert in Utah, we decided that a road trip through USA was the only way to go! We flew to San Francisco and spent a few days staying with my long time bestie Kristin, and then picked up our hire car, a Jeep and headed out to the desert! Going via Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas and Escalante before hitting Utah for the wedding! Then a few more days of exploring, through Beaver and back to Vegas before flying home!

I was brought up, very fortunately, with lots of emphasis on travel and so I’ve spent much time visiting USA before as well as having spent time there studying for my Degree, I ADORE America, that place truly has my heart and this trip was a pure delight! My eyes saw things they couldn’t quite believe, the scenery in Utah was other-worldly and the heat was insane…45 degrees in the desert!! Wooosh! The trip was mind-blowing and then the wedding of our brilliant friends made it even more special! A beautiful glamping weekend wedding with the heat and the backdrop of the desert, it was so very magical I cannot even try to describe it. Simply luminous with love.

The trip cost us money we don’t have and I feared James and I would drive each other crazy in a car for two weeks, but, it was worth every cent and squabble, what a wonderful adventure we had, a perfect start to our new non-shop chapter of life! I’m pretty snap-happy with my iPhone when travelling and seeing new things, so I documented the whole trip on my Instagram; lots of you appeared to enjoy sharing my journey with me, such fun! These are just a few highlights, if you wanna, you can see all my holiday snaps here!

What a ride! Now back to reality and pretty dresses! xx

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Brave New World

bl1So, we’ve been without the actual physical shop for just over a month, although it kinda feels like forever already. Very strange to have a less rigid structure to each day, and to have Saturdays off, what a novelty! Not to suggest that I’ve been having a break, ooh no, that would be way too simple. Emptying out the shop and getting the online shop set up has taken up all of my time and, I’m so glad that the online shop is now alive! Obviously it’s exciting as it’s the start of brand new chapter, but my goodness it’s scary and overwhelming. There’s so many differences to being online than having a bricks and mortar shop, some good, some not so much. It’s gonna take a long time and much marketing, learning of new skills and blowing of my own trumpet to let people know I am here, but I shall endeavour, and so far, so good. I have a damn nice office so that makes it an easier transition, James re-purposed all the glass and chrome shelving from the shop fittings so I have floor to ceiling shelves as well as the trusty Prim wicker chair that many a customer has sat in over the years – it’s now for my cat to sit on and keep me company. I have my Slim Aarons print above my desk and of course Miss Moss pouts her pretty gaze towards me all day long from the wall. The online shop is still in it’s infancy and the site will only get better with heaps more categories and teeny tweaks to make it a perfect shopping experience for you. I kinda like my new role, I kinda love it here, let’s hope that the new wonderful world of Prim means I can make it a permanent position.






bl15bl14blc00Visit your new wonderful world of Prim Vintage Fashion here!


Goodbye Prim shop…..Hello Prim online

The last few days of my shop are here. Well, the bricks and mortar shop that is, Prim is going back to where it began 11 years ago; back online. Without any doubt at all, the decision to close down the shop has been the hardest and scariest one of my life. Of our lives. James and I adore our shop and are so gut-burstingly proud of it, so obviously the decision has been a real heart breaker and has taken a very long time to make. The reasons are numerous, but out of courtesy for our very wonderful customers, I’ll try my best to explain our need to close. There are 3 main reasons as to why we are closing the shop doors and one of them, unsurprisingly, is the recession. We genuinely never went into this business to make millions, if that had been our aim, we woulda chosen something other than selling vintage clothes. We opened our shop so we could do a job we love, fill our days with something we were passionate about and pay our bills; a lifestyle business. And that’s exactly how it went, the shop was a great earner, paying two salaries, getting us our first ever home and giving us a cool life. Dream achieved. Within 6 years we have sold over 25,000 brilliant items, which literally gob-smacks us. But alas, it doesn’t make the money anymore, Norwich is being hit really hard by the recession and the city is the quietest it has ever been. Shops cost a whole heap of money to run and the recession literally cripples small independent shops, unlike some, ours is a shop where both James and I need to earn a wage from it, it’s our only family income, so when the money isn’t coming in like it once was, choices have to be made.

Another massive reason we are closing is due to the way ‘vintage’ has changed, especially in Norwich. When we moved to Norwich from London in 2008, we did so because we fell in love with The Norwich Lanes area of independent shops and saw that we could fit in perfectly. I knew exactly how I wanted the shop to be, modern and fresh, a new way to sell vintage, a boutique, with eye popping branding. Prim opened with a bang and it was a huge hit. Norwich it would seem hadn’t seen anything like us before and we could hardly keep up with demand. I think we made it look as though it was easy and that there was money to be made, because, within our third year, oh my, did more vintage shops pop up! Norwich is a small city, and suddenly from having just us, there was at one point 12 places to buy vintage in Norwich. Honestly, I don’t feel that any shop or market stall ever did it even half as beautifully as us, but the fact it was now everywhere broke my heart. I loved vintage from a young age because it was unique, different, and a niche. Quite simply, Norwich became ridiculously saturated with vintage. Add to that the nationwide boom of the genre which meant charity shops all had dedicated ‘vintage’ rails, traveling vintage fairs regularly brought out of town sellers into the city, the high street mass produced ‘vintage’ imitations and, well, it’s really hard to make a living out of something in a small city where there’s more supply than demand. Our reasons for having a vintage shop, to run a local business offering something unique to the city, were no longer valid in Norwich.

The last main reason and by far the most important one is; life. Having your own shop takes up all of your time. All day, every single day you are doing something to do with the shop. You do it because you choose to and because you love it, but as you become surrounded by competitors and also the recession, the love for it wanes and you kinda question whether you still want to do it? The stress, the pressure on your relationship, the time you give up? Working for yourself, as many do, is bloody hard, you can’t switch off, you carry the burden of the bills. I love being my own boss, and I feel lucky, but as all self employed people know, goodness, there are many times it would be preferable to have paid holidays, a pension and hours that end when you leave the office. We need to get some life back, we need to have a holiday together as we haven’t in 7 and a half years, we need to not miss special occasions because we have to be at the shop, we need to not feel like we’re watching life go on outside the shop window. We gotta find a new adventure. The shop has been, genuinely, a dream come true, setting it up, having it succeed massively and working every day with items that fascinate us. And, of course, the customers have been amazing. Closing Prim, will be a loss for the city of Norwich and we have been astounded by the compliments and love we have received during our closing down period. We’ve done all we ever wanted and needed to do with the shop, and now we need a new challenge. What are our plans? Prim is going online, the super-dooper website is getting ready right now, I can’t stop working with and loving vintage, it is my trade, my passion and I will continue to source and sell beautiful clothing, but now the audience can be all over the world and I can fit it around my life a little more. We may occasionally have a quick pop-up shop in the city, and also, for local lovely customers of Prim, I will be offering a pick up point in the city on a weekly basis where you can come get your purchases!

So it is Goodbye to Prim the shop, and Hello to Prim Online. Without every single one of our customers, none of the past six years would have happened, we are sincerely, utterly and genuinely thankful to all of you, we love that you loved what we sold and how we sold it, we have loved being part of your wardrobes and therefore your lives, I hope to carry on finding you amazing fashion for more years online. Prim has appeared in Vogue, Company, and Glamour magazine, it was named as one of ‘the top 5 vintage stores in the UK’ by The Guardian, it has won ‘best vintage shop in Norwich’ for both the years that the awards were running, it’s supplied clothing for theatre, movies, museums and The Oscars. We always wanted to create a magical place in which to shop and I think we did, we created something brilliant for you and for us, hip-hip-hooray for Prim and all it’s customers, it’s been marvelous! Thank you all so much. See you online! xxx

Beautiful illustration thanks to Nicola Jones.