I've been visiting Cowgirl in Couture for at least a year or two now, after a day out in Oakham with a friend, we bumped into the owner, Rachel and my friend introduced me and the showed me the designer boutique, which I have previously never even noticed before.
Since then, after discovering the little gem I've visited the shop (on Oakham's Mill Street) as much as I can and I've purchased some wonderful gifts including a vintage brooch, as well as a pair of Tom Ford aviator sunglasses for myself. So when Rachel got in touch about sharing the business on the blog, I was delighted!
You'll either know exactly where I'm talking about or have never heard of 'Cowgirl in Couture' before and if so, you're in for a treat!
I interviewed Rachel to find more about the shop, the story of the business and why she loves owning and running a business in Rutland. Take a read...
1. Thanks for meeting with me to share Cowgirl in Couture on the blog!
Your designer boutique has been open on Mill Street in Oakham for 3 years, please tell a little bit about the boutique itself and the kinds of products our readers can expect to discover in the shop...
Rachel: I opened the boutique in March 2017 following a move from Navenby, Lincolnshire where I had originally started the boutique.
The boutique is full of luxurious gems.
The items are preloved but luxury high-end brands, (authenticated designer/couture and vintage designer) bags, clothes, shoes, jewellery and accessories.
I handpick and curate the stock so I have the best items together and only source items in beautiful 'nearly new' condition. Many items come in that still have their tags on and customers often comment that don't realise Cowgirl in Couture is a preloved shop because many of the product really are 'good as new'
I have a combination of stock that I source from all over, especially jewellery (as it’s a particular passion of mine) and I also sell items on behalf of customers on consignment. As extra gifts for those who love Chanel, I sell hand-poured soy wax candles made especially for my shop, the scents inspired by the perfume ‘Chanel No.5’ and ‘Mademoiselle.’ They also fill the shop with a wonderful scent for our customer to enjoy while they browse.
I can also offer customers styling advice and help them to put an outfit together, however as an independent there is usually only myself or one staff member in the shop at a time, so if it’s for a special occasion, I recommend they book a private one-to-one appointment to have my full attention and most effective use of time.
2. Rachel, we’ve spoken about your story a number of times in the past, please share your unique story with the readers of the blog and how the name ‘Cowgirl in Couture’ was born...
Rachel: The name 'Cowgirl in Couture' came about for a couple of reasons; I grew up on a smallholding where horses were a big part of my childhood and anyone who has had horses in their life knows what a powerful presence they have. I loved growing up with the horses and other animals around me and loved helping/playing on the farm making hay etc (riding on the top of a trailer stacked high with hay bales behind my Dads tractor, which would never be allowed now!). My childhood was a big part of me but equally, I had a passion for beautiful clothes, jewellery, fabrics and colour and loved dressing up and adapting outfits so they looked more expensive.
Later in life, after my degree and years of working in various fashion businesses including work experience with ‘Jimmy Choo’ and the Couturier ‘Bruce Oldfield,’ my passion for luxury fashion grew and after a long spell of health issues I decided to go on a small adventure...
Something I’d wanted to do was to travel a little and I always fancied to go on a ranch and had family there too, so I took a trip to America and amongst other places I visited, I spent a month working on a wild horse sanctuary called “Return to Freedom” where they rescued wild horses from the round-ups - just wow! It was an experience that I will never forget!
I’d always felt a little bit of a cowgirl at heart, plus Cowgirl in Couture has a better ring than ”Horse-girl”, but I still had a passion for unique, designer/couture fashion, hence the name.
3. You’ve been in the fashion industry for 27 years and your knowledge of designer fashion throughout history is extensive. When did you fall in love with fashion and what was the first piece/most special piece your first owned?
Rachel: As I said, I was into clothes and dressing up and into adapting and styling clothes and accessorising to make it look more expensive and glamorous from as young as 4/5 years old, I even made my own little catalogue when I was about 8 called “Wow” and I guess it just grew from there.
During my degree in ‘fashion studies,’ I also spent 3 months in Paris with ‘Peclers‘ fashion prediction. Working in Paris was another big learning curve!
My time spent with Jimmy Choo and Bruce Oldfield inspired me, (It was in the early days of “Jimmy Choo” when the shoes were all hand made!) After watching and working alongside such craftsmanship for over 3 months, my eye for detail/quality and luxury/ couture grew.
I particularly loved accessories and leather goods. During my degree’s third year in industry and through my relationship with Jimmy Choo I was given the opportunity to do a semester in footwear design/making and fashion illustration as a side module at the well known ‘Cordwainers College’ in London, where Jimmy Choo himself trained along with the likes of Patrick Cox and Emma Hope. In my final year with the help of an assistant at Jimmy Choo and the use of his workshop and tools, I made a small collection of hand-made shoes as part of my final degree show. I was also very fortunate to attend a couple of fashion shows with Jimmy Choo and to be a part of seeing his beautiful creations and his rising success. I was very creative myself so after this, my passion grew further.
The very first and special piece I owned was a pair of hand-made “Jimmy Choo” shoes of course! They were the same style that Princess Diana wore at the time but in a different colour.
4. There are so many reason to love pre-loved designer goods and the quality of products you source for the shop are unique as most are basically good as new! Please tell us some of the designers you regularly have in store and the ones that are popular to customers in Rutland…
Rachel: The labels I regularly have in the shop are authenticated: Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Aquascutum, Mulberry, Tod’s, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Marni, Emilio Pucci, Ralph Lauren, Hermes, Diane Von Furstenberg, Armani, Miu Miu, Joseph, Marc Jacobs, Christian Louboutin, Amanda Wakely, Fendi, Oscar de la Renta, Maxmara, Paul Smith, Chloe, Celine, Givenchy, Versace, Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Moncler, Stella McCartney, Dolce and Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Anne Fontaine, Missoni, Vivienne Westwood and Tiffany, Ferragamo.
I guess I would say, generally speaking, the popular styles in Rutland are more casual, classic and traditional names with the timeless classic or casual pieces from such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Mulberry, Burberry, Hermes, Tod’s, Moncler, Paul Smith, Tiffany, Diane Von Furstenberg and Aquascutum. Most of these brands have more classic pieces within their ranges but the more flamboyant items ( which I love !) are I would say generally less popular here, except for certain pieces for special occasions.
5. But it’s not just pre-loved pieces you sell, you also have a stunning range of vintage clothing and jewellery, please tell us a little more about this area of the business...
Rachel: The main core of the business is preloved luxury labels, this what I specialise in. However, behind the scenes, I also have a small collection of beautiful, glamorous and unique early vintage labelled and unlabelled accessories, dresses and jewellery that were part of my original collection. These can be hired for weddings, cruises or themed events, items such as a pale pink ostrich feather cape from the 1920’s -30’s, also 1930’s to 50’s coloured and crystal diamanté jewellery, faux fur and fur stoles 1940’s to 50’s and a few dresses, they tend to be tiny sizes though sizes due to their age.
This is mainly kept in my stockroom along with other extra stock items so please always ask if you are looking for anything in particular. I don’t like to overstock my rails so there is always more!
6. What does it mean to you to have a business in the local area and what do you love about living and working in Rutland?
Rachel: I always liked Oakham and Stamford, but now I live and work here I love it!
I wanted the footfall but uniqueness and quaintness of a small town with the balance of the beautiful surrounding countryside and villages with, of course, horses, dogs and wildlife. We're also close to the beautiful town of Stamford and Rutland Water is just on our doorstep too.
As an independent myself I love that Independent businesses in this area are a key feature. Although we may not be able to open all hours, instead we offer a personal touch again at this fast pace today, a more mindful, connected shopping experience. As independents we offer something personal, special and unique that’s created from the heart!
It means a lot to live in this beautiful rural area, especially since I had a spate of health challenges some years ago, work/life balance is important.
Living here puts me in touch with roots but equally to be able to run the business with my passion for luxury fashion goods. It's great to be able to bring luxury, unique and special pieces to Oakham from London and all over the world, as well as being a platform for fashion lovers and local customers to buy and sell their luxury items, recycling nearly new and unworn items, creating smart shopping and sustainable fashion in a modern world.
I love that I can bring my two worlds together with my love for beautiful fashion but within a few minutes walk, I can don my wellies and get into the beautiful countryside and all it brings with it.
7. Finally, thank you so much for taking the time out to share Cowgirl in Couture with the readers of the blog. What can we expect to see from the future of of then business?
Rachel: In 2020, I plan working more on promoting my brand via expanding my online shop and social media presence with luxury bags/jewellery and accessories as my main focus.
3A Mill Street, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 6EA
11am to 5pm Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday
Monday & Wednesday by appointment
Tel: 07715 987959
#ShopLocal Quiz: Love to Shop Independent
1. Favourite place for brunch/lunch?
Rachel: The Larder on Mill St in Oakham
2. No.1 spot for an evening meal?
Rachel: The Fox and Hounds in Knossington delicious food and Kate is a great landlady and just 2 minutes walk from my house.
3. Where do you love to shop?
Rachel: I tend to have less time these days for personal shopping but I do pick preloved designer items up when I’m sourcing for the shop. I like mixing up the designer with high street. I do personally prefer to see things in the flesh and shop buy rather than the internet as I love seeing the colour fabrics and detail.
Locally Cavells for jeans/decorative gifts, Natures dispensary for natural remedies and beauty items. Stanhopes for cushions etc and Quirky bird gifts for St Eval candles.
4. Favourite coffee house?
Rachel: I like to change it up when I can, as there are several really good coffee houses in and around Oakham. Some of my favourite are; Larder, Fika, Otters, Kavannaghs and Scandimania in Uppingham, Lean Pantry in Stamford.
5. Perfect place for a day out? Rachel: I love a stroll round Rutland water or a horse ride out in the beautiful local countryside.
6. Local brand or business you admire?
Rachel: Natures Dispensary. Leslie who runs ND has an amazing amount of knowledge, extensive choice of health foods and can pretty much sort a natural remedy for everything ! I'm very lucky to be almost next door, I’m very into natural health and beauty, so I practically live in there!
7. Favourite fact about the area?
Rachel: Oakham Castle's horseshoes. The castle is famous for its collection of ceremonial horseshoes; since the late Middle Ages, every time a peer of the realm visits Oakham for the first time they are bound to present a horseshoe to the lord of the manor.
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