OPEN A SHOP WITH YOUR MA?!
On a cold and drizzly day at the end of June, I’m off to one of my favourite shops, Her Dandy Wolf, an independent boutique in Aberystwyth, run by Mother and daughter team; Jenny and Laura Harding.
If you haven’t visited this shop, you are missing out! This is my ‘happy place’, and the perfect place to escape on a drizzly day like today! When you enter the shop through the bright blue door, you are greeted with rails of the most gorgeous clothes, the type of clothes you want to touch and want to try on! I love their choice of brands, colours and prints as well as their funky sunglasses and stunning jewellery and accessories. It’s not all about us girls either, they have menswear and homeware collections, as well as the lovely wooden cupboard full of cute organic children’s clothes …I can see you doing a route planner to Aberystwyth right now!
Standing behind the counter with her welcoming smile is Jenny, her daughter Laura is busy putting the finishing touches to another eye-catching window display! I have always wondered how this Mother and daughter team works? I love my Mum but I couldn’t work with her! But before getting into that, I wanted to know a bit more about why they opened the shop…
“I was on holiday in Montreal when I had a text from Laura. The text explained that the boutique where she was working as a fashion buyer in Aberystwyth was closing down. I don’t know if it was Canada’s blue skies that made me reply with such an impulsive question, ‘Want to open a shop with your Ma?’, but her reply was ‘Yes! – that was the beginning of Her Dandy Wolf!”
As Laura served a customer, Jenny explained that she moved to Aberystwyth from Essex in 1974, after her husband was offered a job here. She worked as a librarian at the University but was having itchy feet and needed a new challenge, she’d never managed a shop before, but despite this, the initial Her Dandy Wolf shop opened on Eastgate Street in 2008.
“Mum was all about spreadsheets and organising! I was 25, and not really into that, and I couldn’t have imagined working with my Mum every day either! It’s turned out to be the perfect partnership, I’m creative and love designing and choosing the stock and you need this side by side with the organisational skills in order to survive in business. I must admit that I’m also into spreadsheets now!”
Sitting by the till, it became obvious that Her Dandy Wolf caters for all ages from 15 – 70, and the fact that Jenny and Laura are in it together means that customers of all ages feel comfortable here and feel happy to ask for advice. During my visit, I met a groovy gran, a young teenager and a Mum with a very young toddler, they all found something they loved and I can’t blame them.
“I’ve learnt a lot from my daughter, Laura has an amazing eye for detail and she’s taught me about buying and choosing the right products and designing the space, we have lots of fun. My other two daughters live away so I feel extremely fortunate to spend a lot of time with one of my children, it makes us both very happy”
Laura had Siskin, the first of her two daughters, in 2010, and she explained that having her own business has allowed her to spend more time with her kids too;
“I didn’t have maternity leave, but I could bring Siskin and Teal to work with me. It was perfect! I was using my brain, being creative and having time with my babies as well”
It’s also worked out well for Jenny, as she’s been able to spend lots of time with her grandchildren;
“When the kids came along they became part of the shop and it was lovely. I was fortunate to spend time with my own daughter and her daughters. When Laura wanted to work on the displays or have five minutes to herself, I would take them down to the beach in the pram”
#Juggling the kids and the buying trips to London have been a bit more challenging!
“You have to look clean and stylish at these events and having baby sick on you isn’t the best look! I also remember ordering piles of stock at one trade fair, after being distracted by the baby and forgetting to trim down the order! It’s all part of the fun though and we are real Mum’s running a real business!”
In 2011, Her Dandy Wolf moved to its new and current location on Market Street, Aberystwyth. The shop spread over two floors but the extra workload hasn’t changed Laura and Jenny’s priorities;
“Work life balance is essential. We close every bank holiday and after Christmas eve until January. Some may say that we must be mad to close during the holidays, but we disagree! We love what we do but it won’t ever take first place, family always comes first”
By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru.
Check out the Her Dandy Wolf’s Festival Fashion article in our #MamiTime #Fashion section