Specialist business profile: Qetty Bang Bang
Keen to dispel the myth of boutiques as being expensive or intimidating, Fran Polley, the new owner of Qetty Bang Bang in Tetbury, encourages customers to visit and “potter around” her shop. With a range of fashions designed to suit all ages, sizes and budgets, there’s a strong chance you won’t come out empty handed…
Taking ownership of an established boutique may seem a daunting prospect. After all, how do you make it your own without losing loyal customers? For Fran Polley, who became the new owner of Tetbury boutique Qetty Bang Bang in May 2015, it offered an exciting new challenge.
Having worked for 20 years as a merchandiser for mail order catalogues, Fran knew exactly what she really wanted to do. She says, “I’d always held a life long ambition to own my own shop. In January, as I was having the ’New Year rethink’, Qetty Bang Bang became available and that was that.”
Qetty had started off primarily as a vintage fashion store before new collections were added to its range, and although Fran will keep a vintage element, the majority of stock now consists of contemporary fashion pieces. “Ladies will often go out in jeans with a special top rather than an outfit as such, and that’s what we want to stock: a selection of nice, new, interesting pieces to dress up a casual outfit.”
This involves lots of research on the internet and Fran is not averse to asking customers what labels they are wearing when they come in the shop. She also keeps an eye on shows and showrooms and relies on the all important word-of-mouth recommendations. Due to the proximity of other boutiques in Tetbury and Cirencester, Fran likes to discover new brands and to offer something different and surprising. The shop also stocks contemporary giftware and jewellery.
There isn’t a typical Qetty customer, which is something that has surprised Fran: “I thought when I started that I would quickly be able to identify my customer. I realized that there isn’t one – I think I could sell to a 16 year old and also to someone who is 90 years old. This makes it more difficult for me but also more interesting! Instead of being dictated to by a particular market, I’m now just buying what I like and putting my own stamp on the shop. It’s a bit eclectic – from the quirky to the sophisticated, but it certainly offers things that can be worn every day.”
Labels such as Danish brand Rabens Soloner epitomise the top end of stylish casual, while Emily and Fin is more retro and ’50s in essence. Best sellers include Spanish brand Indi and 4
Cold: a quirky mix of feminine print and colour. Fran’s extension of shoe stock has also paid off with the popularity of Candice Cooper’s groovy baseball boots. Unlike the mail order industry, in which you can gauge a product’s success within two weeks, Fran now has to adjust to the fluctuations of retail. Although busy in the shop throughout the week and on Saturdays, Fran is in the process of developing the online side of the business by updating and improving the existing website. She also has a vision of having another shop in the future. As she puts it, “I’d really like to drift into menswear as I think there’s a gap in the market. I’d love to have a shop in Bristol, perhaps in Clifton or Montpelier.”
Fran is quick to point out that boutiques can sometimes feel intimidating. At Qetty Bang Bang, she is determined to encourage anyone who has had that kind of experience in a boutique previously to come in and be surprised. She says, “I am warm and chatty and a size 18 myself –
I know how difficult it can be to find clothing that fits, so I make sure I have pieces that will suit everyone. Items of jewellery can start at £10 and although some of the clothing may have high end prices, there is something for everyone in between.”
As a lover of fashion, Fran is relishing her new venture. She says, “Unlike my last job, this is just so social and I love the varied nature of every day. I love buying and I love clothes – so Qetty is pretty perfect for me.”
Qetty Bang Bang, Tetbury: 01666 503148 / GL8 8AA / qettybangbang.co.uk