The allure of the boutique has always been the selling of individuality, the escapism from a world of mass-produced products where customers can buy their own slice of eccentricity and originality lost on the high street. While this is still the case, what defines a boutique is ever evolving. The traditional high street boutique or market stall is being shunned in favour of its digital counterpart.
“It’s quite a personal service I offer, it’s something you’re not going to find in your average accessories or crafts store,” Zoe Larkins explains. Zoe is the founder of Boscombe based boutique ‘Love From Hetty & Dave‘, a veritable treasure trove of textile manifestations. A fibre-based ecosystem with its inhabitants ranging from slugs to badgers, owls and sausage dogs.
Love From Hetty & Dave, however, is not exclusively based in Boscombe, and is expanding its presence online. “The majority of my business now is done through online, especially compared to just three years ago. The shop is really just a base for me to use as a workshop,” She informs me.
Zoe is clever to adapt her business online as well as on the high street. The internet is now teeming with virtual crafts markets with designers, retailers and those in the arts and crafts industry exploiting the webs potential as a place to market their goods. Folksy and Etsy are the largest online marketplaces for handcrafted products, however there are countless more to be found on the net.
According to Folksy, as of May 2012 their site attracted on average 3.5 million page views per month, with their number of unique visitors in that past year reaching 2.4 million. The number of items for sale on the site on 27 April 2013 was a staggering 156,914.
“There’s so much stuff online now that people don’t even have to leave their house anymore, which is sad because it’s leading to the demise of the high street. I started off at the markets in London, and that’s where you always went if
you wanted something individual, new and handmade, but online has kind of overtaken that now.”
Importantly while the method of buying such products has changed, the demand for Zoe’s creations has remained relatively constant despite the poor state of the economy in recent years, and she faces little competition with the high street just down the road.”I’ve got quite a big customer base now, and I think they come to me because they know they’ll get something different. People are looking for interesting, more expensive things they won’t see on everyone else.”