The Early Days ...
Back in 2011, I inherited a huge vintage clothing collection from a Great Aunt, who had lived what appeared to be an elegant and dazzling social life as a cinema owner in the English Riviera town of Torquay over its glamorous era of the mid-twentieth century. She ran the town's cinema, Colony, and with husband Peter, they were both active proponents of the industry during its heyday of film and cinema-going.
As well as the clothing, when they passed away, I rescued their collections of photographs, movie memorabilia, personal accessories and other random bits, (I have an impressive vintage matchbox collection in my loft). I donated a decent selection of local documentation to Torquay Museum and am aiming to get around to archiving and preserving the remaining articles that I hold.
With vintage clothing & accessories hoarded from past trips on the continent, together with the inherited collection, I ran local pop-up shops whilst on a career break with our young children. This led me in 2013 to establishing a bricks and mortar shop in Totnes, Devon offering vintage, unisex clothing and accessories, displayed against a contemporary aesthetic.
So, what happened next?
Well, we immersed ourselves in the vibrant, local community, collaborated with Universities and Colleges on projects, were awarded some decent national press recognition and together with talented and creative staff progressed to become an innovative and admired lifestyle store. We outgrew two premises whilst evolving our offering and settled in 2018 at a larger location on Totnes high street showcasing small, independent brands. By this stage we had established ourselves as a 'go-to' for contemporary unisex clothing and lifestyle accessories, indoor plants, and we even squeezed in a small coffee bar within the store.
Then, in March 2020, everything changed..
Didn't it just. A global pandemic turned everyone's lives upside down and as a small business we had to make some big decisions quickly. We had to look at our model; how we could function whilst the business was closed and form a strategy for moving forwards. The pause brought an opportunity for reflection and some time to ask ourselves questions about future aims and goals.
As you will see, there is still stock here on the website. We did make the decision though not to re-open the physical store when permitted and decided to wind down the entire business with our great memories intact of what a brilliant physical store we had created. As is the case with many independent shops, we were more than a destination to facilitate the purchasing of products. We contributed, collaborated and created an environment for friendships, support and culture within a community.
Anything new in the pipeline then?
Equipped with just under a decade of branding, marketeering and networking as a Company Founder, I realised I wanted to take the spirit of Colony, (the store and the cinema) and utilise my passion and enthusiasm for independent initiatives and develop a new project to coincide with my re-training for a career as a Freelance Journalist. Colony Journal is an online magazine launching Summer 2021 and will feature people, places, culture, design and the environment across the South West of the UK. I am incredibly excited about discovering and highlighting brilliant individuals and initiatives across this stunning part of the world. If you'd like to take a look, the links are below.
Colony Journal on Instagram