Hands up anyone who has seen the movie Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium? I love this movie for several reasons but the main one is the fact that Mr Magorium’s store is so much more than just a toy store. It is an amazing, wonderful, magical and fantastical place where anything can happen (and usually does). The store is not just a bricks and mortar building; it has its own personality and character.
While I am not even considering putting Miss Meg’s in the same league as Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium I do believe that it is more than just a shop. I have worked hard to create an atmosphere that is different to anything people have shopped in before. I want customers to feel like they are in another world when they come through those doors and I want them to have a wonderful experience while in my shop.
To that end I have done some research on the emergence of ‘the boutique’, which was a cultural phenomenon of the 1960s. It is so interesting (and inspiring) to read about London in the 1960s and the types of fashion boutiques that were being created.
Biba, which was created by Barbara Hulanicki, was a fashion destination for people wanting distinctive yet inexpensive clothes. The interior of this boutique sounded absolutely amazing because it was fitted out with Art Nouveau decor, decadent themes and an atmosphere similar to that of a French boudoir.
Another shop which intrigues me is Granny Takes a Trip, also established in London on the King’s Road in the 1960s. Granny Takes a Trip was another boutique where customers could express themselves by dressing up in the distinctive clothes offered in this shop.
A rejection of all things commonplace and mass-produced was the ethos behind Granny Takes a Trip. They changed their shopfront regularly and it was always eyecatching. The clothes sold at this boutique were amazing and attracted the attention of many celebrities of that time.
The last space I want to talk about means the most to me. It played a big part in inspiring me and my vision for Miss Meg’s. I came across Unicorn Vintage in Oxford when I was there in 2011. I just happened to stumble across it while the family were waiting for lunch at a cafe near by. I decided to take a walk along Ship Street and nearly hyperventilated when I took a look in the chaotic front window. I squeezed through the door (this tiny shop was absolutely packed to the rafters) and desperately started trawling through the racks of clothes. You name it, it was there. Leather jackets, purses, shoes, coats, vintage dresses, jeans, and on and on it went. There were so many items of clothing it was hard to separate the hangers to actually see what was on them. When my poor father-in-law came down to let me know that lunch was ready I just glared at him with a wild, crazed look in my eye and he gingerly backed out the door.
I have never forgotten that shop or the way I felt when I was in there. It was like a parallel universe and a little haven where you could escape from the everyday. If I have been even half as successful in creating this kind of world at Miss Meg’s then it’s mission accomplished.