Falkirk's Sisters Boutique owner reflects on 'biggest challenge' as shop prepares to turn 25
A Falkirk store owner is looking forward to celebrating the shop’s 25th anniversary – following the toughest 12 months she’s ever experienced in business.
Sisters Boutique will reach the milestone on May 23 and, with the big moment just days away, founder Lauren Brown revealed such an achievement felt like a distant dream last year.
The women’s clothing firm had to alter its operation when the pandemic put an end to weddings and proms, events on which Sisters has built its reputation.
The Lint Riggs business instead shifted its focus to casual wear and is hopeful the return of celebratory occasions will herald an upturn in fortunes for the store, which has had to let two employees go since coronavirus hit.
Lauren admits Sisters has, like many retailers, struggled immensely over the past year.
It’s why she and her four staff members take satisfaction knowing they’re approaching a huge landmark for the business – one they’re fully aware wouldn’t have been possible without their customers.
Lauren, who’s planning an in-shop promotion to mark the occasion, said: “The last year’s been very challenging, potentially the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in my 25 years, apart from personal challenges.
“The pandemic has brought a completely different set of challenges but, fortunately, myself and the team have got through it.
“We’ve always been a business people have come to if they’re going to a wedding or proms. That aspect has been shattered.
“It’s a testament to the people of Falkirk who have supported me. My business couldn’t have survived if customers hadn’t chosen to keep sending me orders and buying from me.
“Sisters is like my first-born child. I opened it as a single girl and I’m now a mum-of-two but Sisters is still the most needy and badly behaved of my three children!
“It demands the most of my time but I love it dearly.”
Sisters has witnessed countless outfit and style changes over the years.
It’s also made many transformations of its own in that time, including setting up Misters Menswear next door.
Regrettably, the pandemic has slowed the momentum at Misters, according to Lauren.
Amid all the uncertainty, she’s thrilled one constant has remained: the loyalty of Sisters’ clientele.
She said: “The fact I’ve got such a loyal following in Falkirk is what saved my business.
“I changed my offer but it was down to my relationship with suppliers I’ve been able to change orders around.
“Fabric bought for dresses, I changed into tops and tunics. I’ve also been doing live videos on Facebook to get the brand out there.
“It’s changed for the better. My shop’s got a lot of dressy wear and people are screaming to get out.
“The changes helped me through the pandemic. I’m slowly but surely going back to where I was.”
Lauren added: “Thank you to the people of Falkirk who’ve made my business the business it is.
“I’d like to thank my mum and dad, Ailleen and Bill. My dad’s the reason I went into the industry and my mum helped to look after my children.
“Falkirk Delivers has been fantastic as well. They brought in a brilliant free delivery service that was the difference between my business sinking or swimming.
“I also have to thank the girls I’ve employed over the years.”