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.

Sun, Sun, Sunday!





Whoop, yesterday was a Sunday full of bright winter sunshine, and so we headed to the coast for a runaround! Zooming off for a bluster of sea air and a blaze of sunlight in our eyes…a good kinda day off. The tide was out at Sheringham and the white stone exposed far out on the beach made us feel as though we had landed on the Moon, brilliant. It always feels so good to get a day away and to explore the coast. We also met a cat which made the day even more perfect. Winter sun is ace. Happy day. 

A Bellville Sassoon Birthday

Holkham Hall in Norfolk, oooosh what a stunning place! Having intended to go there for ages, my recent birthday meant we finally got in the car and zoomed off for a day of loveliness. We had been meaning to go for ages, firstly because we knew it had a Bellville Sassoon fashion exhibition ‘Glamour and Gowns’ taking place, secondly because I LOOOVE stately homes, and, thirdly, because we were sent a personal hand written invite from the Viscountess of Holkham Hall; Polly Coke. Viscountess Coke had been into our vintage shop and bought two stunning 1930’s dresses, she followed her purchase up by sending us personal invites to the exhibition and hall, super! Viscountess Coke is the daughter of Belinda Bellville, founder of British fashion label Bellville Sassoon and so her own stately home was just the perfect place to showcase an exhibition of her Mother’s work.

The house and gardens were gorgeous, beautiful in their original and well maintained state with knowledgeable staff telling stories and you also got the really nice sense of the Coke family still using a large portion of the house as their actual home, wonderful. The fashion exhibition was a stunning, sparkly and brightly coloured contrast to the dark interior of the house, a delight for my eyes indeed. This small but thorough exhibition was beautifully curated with great information and a selection of dresses that represented the decades of Bellville Sassoon wonderfully. Gold and silver baubles hanging from the ceiling and the beautiful room itself made for an exhibition that was nothing short of enchanting.

Bellville Sassoon was founded in 1953 by Belinda Bellville, originally naming it ‘Bellville Et Cie’, she opened her first shop in partnership with Sydna Scott in Knightsbridge. By 1958 the business was growing rapidly and Belinda had had her first two daugters, the third, Polly, who went on to marry into the Coke family, was born later in 1967. Belinda met David Sassoon and he joined the business, his expertise in pattern cutting and his technical knowledge proved the perfect addition. In 1970 he became a partner and the name Bellville Sassoon was born. At the end of the 1970’s, Tatler Magazine declared that Bellville Sassoon had made more society wedding dresses than any other couture house. This British label had become famous for it’s luxury cocktail, party and wedding dresses, with a host of glamourous ladies wearing their designs, including Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Madonna and of course, Princess Diana. I also saw some of their designs in the Diana exhibition at Kensigton Palace. At Holkham they had on display a sketch and photo of Princess Diana in her Bellville Sassoon ‘Going Away’ outfit; a canteloupe silk dress with bolero jacket, 1981. She adored it so much she wore it on many occasions including her tour of Australia in 1983.

My favourite dresses in the exhibit were the bright pink raw silk skirt with a hand beaded lace top, 1960, a polkadot flamenco style dress in silk taffeta and silk organza, 1987, a pink silk paper taffeta dress with bustle trim, ruched bodice and draped skirt, 1980, and the cutest candy stripe silk paper taffeta puffball dress, 1980.

Such a delight of an exhibition and a super birthday day trip.

This exhibition is on until late October 2013, and Holkham Hall is open on various dates over the year, for more information visit

Gin in jam jars and the most beautiful bride

lou16Well, what a super summer wedding. One of my most lovliest of friends, Louise, got hitched last Friday and it was nothing short of glorious. This current heatwave, combined with a breathtaking venue made for one of the most relaxed and happy days I have spent in a while. Lou and Andy were the most perfect hosts and my goodness, that little place out in the deepest depths of Norfolk, was just about expolding with love on that sunny day, what a joy to share it.

The location was perfection. A new venue, The Keeper and The Dell, is a good distance from the city of Norwich and allows you to feel like you are entirely in another World. A deep grassy dell with wooden seats and hay bales set into the slope, Lou had dressed the venue seamlessly. An original old handmade marquee, backing onto woodland, a swing in the tree, lanterns hung in the branches; the tranqulity and sense of space was a real treat. A sincere and informal ceremony in front of their loved ones, Lou looked breathtaking. Brides always have this immense glow to them and Lou, well, she truly sparkled. Her dress was a nod to the 1930’s, silky, body hugging and feminine, she radiated happiness. Their cute-as-a-doll daughter is called Iris, so, of course, Lou clutched a bunch of these as she walked to meet her groom.

Afternoon tea in the marquee, oodles of Gin in jam jars, live music and much sitting on the grass barefoot made for a day that dreams are made of. To fill our tummies, a fish and chip van (a classy, award-winning one mind) arrived to serve us and the merriment continued till it got dark, when we all gathered around an open fire with the band playing an accoustic set. Wonderful.

James and I have been a couple for around 13 years, we don’t have any real intention of getting hitched, it’s not something we feel we want to do, but weddings do tend to bring out the very slight romantic in me. Pledging your absolute love and devotion to your partner in front of your friends and family is a really special event and always, momentarily, makes me wanna do it too!

My outfit was a last minute choice, having been busy of late I hadn’t decided what on earth I was going to wear! I had this red lace dress in my closet. This dress has a story of sorts. It was mine, I loved it, but never wore it. So I popped it in the shop window over Christmas the other year, I guessed it would look pretty and festive while we were closed for the holidays. On the first day of opening after Christmas, I arrived a little late to the shop and James had sold it!! I informed him, whilst trying not to look too sad, that I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to sell it. I guessed I’d never see it again, but thought of it often. Then recently, the girl who had bought it mentioned it and said she had worn it once and was finished with it, so, I suggested I buy it back off her! She agreed, and the dress was back in my arms. So, for Lou’s wedding, I decided this dress was gonna be worn. Red lace 1960’s wiggle dress with spagetti straps; I teamed it with some 1970’s gold Russell & Bromley heels, a 2004 Dior perspex cuff and my 1970’s Magazine clutch bag.

A happy day indeed.

lou19lou17lou3lou6lou20lou21lou23lou10lou14lou15lou13lou24lou9lou8lou7lou26lou22lou27lou12Photo 14 courtesy of the lovely Cassie Tillett who has a lovely decluttering website, for more information on the wedding venue visit The Keeper and The Dell, all my clothing is, of course, from Prim Vintage Fashion.