Iris and Violet is an independent fashion and lifestyle boutique, offering a carefully curated selection of clothing, homeware, accessories and gifting. They opened their first shop in Stamford, Lincolnshire in May 2019 with a second shop opened in Cambridge City Centre in June 2021. The shop was founded by former fashion buyer Bethany Scott-Morris, who has drawn on over a decade of experience working in the fashion industry to bring something new and unique to Stamford and Cambridge.
With a unique edit each season from a host of incredible and affordable brands not available elsewhere locally, you will find a mix of trend pieces and wearable everyday essentials for your wardrobe. They aim to put the pleasure and feel-good factor back into high street shopping as well as offering an alternative to chain shops.
In 2021 they were voted as one of the Top 50 Independents in the UK by Grazia Magazine. They were also Multichannel Independent of the Year finalists at the Drapers Independent Awards 2021 and winners of Best Independent Retailer in the Rutland and Stamford Mercury Business Awards 2021.
We asked Bethany to choose 3 key pieces this Autumn from her collection and we've coodinated some handbags that we hope you like too.
Dressing for any occasion is a breeze with this NuEamaja shirt dress in your wardrobe. It has a pretty print, with a classic collar and a cutline at the waist for a beautifully feminine silhouette. The dress is crafted from lovely and lightweight Lenzing™ EcoVero™ viscose, which uses renewable wood pulp from responsibly managed forests. We teamed this dress with a lilac croc Sabrina Bag
or an emerald green Betty Bag
both highlighting the colours in the print.
Make a statement this autumn in this colourful dress from Y.A.S. With a super flattering cut, a tiered skirt and long sleeves, pair this dress with your chunky boots or elevate your look with a simple pair of heels. We paired this with our best selling chain bags. The mini Julia chain bag
in turquoise croc is a great colour all year round or our envelope chain bag
called Victoria in cobalt blue. All our bags are available in so many colours it's difficult to make a choice!
Short & sweet, but with a touch of attitude, the Sienna cable cardigan brings any outfit to life. With a unique abstract cable featured on the front, back and sleeve, this style comes in a super soft mid weight yarn in an all over fisherman’s rib. With a dropped shoulder & our signature balloon sleeve, the shorter length makes her perfect to style with jeans or layer over midi dresses. This denim colour is perfect with tan for a more casual look. Our tan cross-body Polly camera bag in woven leather is perfect for handsfree shopping or how about our tan leather backpack with patch pocket detailling, available in 3 sizes.
Here we get up close and personal with Bethany to find out a bit more about her and her success.
Tell us a bit more about how you founded Iris & Violet and how you decided about the shop name.
It was something I had always really wanted to do. After finishing a fashion degree at university, I was offered a buying job at River Island. I spent 3 years there and then moved on to a start-up brand called Lost Ink where I worked for 4 years. The skills and the knowledge I built up over these 7 years really helped me in setting up the shop. I left my job in fashion to open the first shop, thinking that it would take at least a year to find the right unit in Stamford, but it all happened within a few weeks of leaving my job! We then took the plunge to open the second shop in Cambridge last summer.
The name is just a reference to my favourite colour – purple.
Why did you choose Stamford and then Cambridge to open your stores?
Stamford has lots of independents so it was a great location for the first shop and I could really see a gap in the market for a fashion/lifestyle shop that stocked really exciting brands that customers of all ages would love. Cambridge is a completely different market, which has been quite an adjustment, but it still has a lovely buzz with a great mix of tourists, students and professionals.
Can you tell us about the type of products you sell?
Iris & Violet is a womenswear and lifestyle shop. We stock an exciting array of brands that you can’t find elsewhere on the high street, all at accessible price points. You can find styles such as basic and slogan tees, casual day dresses, as well as unique styles in more elevated prints and fabrics, ideal for occasion wear.
Iris & Violet is not just a clothing shop; by stocking cards, homewares and accessories, the shop has a lifestyle feel so it’s the perfect place to pop in and find a gift too.
Where do you get your fashion inspiration from?
Social media is an inexhaustible source of inspiration in the fashion world and it can be a great place to start to figure out what styles you like. The showrooms we visit are hugely inspiring and it’s an amazing way to see what trends are coming through each season in all of the different brands. I also keep on top of industry news and monitor trends that are coming through in other shops too. Ultimately, I tend to gravitate towards things that I feel good in. You don’t always need to feel trend-driven when looking for new pieces to go in your wardrobe and looking for classic, timeless pieces can be just as inspiring.
What’s the biggest fashion trend this Autumn/Winter?
After a turbulent few years, the overarching feeling this AW is one of fun and excitement. We’re seeing lots of people want to invest in clothes that spark joy, so that means lots of bright colours and bold accessories. We’ve bought quite heavily into partywear this year as many people are ready to get dressed up for the festive season.
How do you put together your collection for each season?
In terms of buying strategy, fashion product is broken down into categories and colour palettes to make sure the range is balanced and cohesive. Ahead of buying appointments, we look at trends for the season and check any other colours we have coming in already. Then we can make sure that products bought in each appointment will sit well with the rest of the collection. We pre-order 70% of the range and buy 30% in-season so we can react to trends and bestsellers quickly.
What are your bestsellers?
Our most-bought item are dresses. They can be worn throughout the seasons and can be so versatile and easy to style for different occasions. Our most popular dress brand is Y.A.S. The dresses are very flattering, feminine and have the most amazing prints and colours. We love the extra details too which really elevate the pieces. Our jewellery is also a bestseller for us. We stock both fashion jewellery and more simple pieces that are perfect as an everyday accessory. Our range of accessory brands, such as Big Metal London, Junk Jewels & Black Colour, means that you can easily find a gift or a little treat for yourself.
What kind of customer do they appeal to?
Our brand mix appeals to a wide variety of customers – from students at school or university, to women in their 30s and equally to the over 70s. Different generations can all find something they love in the shop. Our customers are often surprised by our reasonable prices; we want to show that shopping small can be affordable and accessible for everyone.
What sets Iris & Violet apart in the market?
We are extremely fortunate to have a supportive and loyal customer base built up through honest, friendly and personable styling advice. We don’t do the ‘hard sell’ and prefer customers to buy items they absolutely love knowing that they will repeatedly come back. We are passionate in providing excellent service across all our platforms; customers can have complimentary gift wrapping on any items that they buy through our website, just as they would be able to in store. All website orders arrive beautifully wrapped so that our online customers can still experience the special service however they shop.
We aim to keep the shop feeling fresh and exciting, with new drops of clothing every week both instore and online, meaning that our customers can come in week after week and always find something new to browse.
What you like about being an indie?
There’s a real sense of community amongst independents and they are all different and unique which is really special. Small businesses have faced so much uncertainty over the last couple of years and it really is thanks to our customer’s support that we are still here. I think people have discovered a real love for their local shops which is amazing and it’s just what the high street needs. I love the feeling of community we have with our fellow independents and when someone chooses to shop independently, they’re ultimately helping to keep this community thriving.
What is the key to your success?
There are so many factors that play a part in a successful business. Our E-Commerce site, which launched in 2020, has become a very important part of the business, especially during all of the months we spent in lockdown. It has been vital to have this balance between our physical and virtual presence and has helped us to find so many new customers. Social media is also a huge part of what we do. We post a lot of behind-the-scenes content and update our followers on new arrivals and offer styling advice. In the shops, we aim to put the feel-good factor back in shopping on the high-street. Our friendly service hopefully brightens people’s day and encourages customers to keep returning to shop with us.
How do you manage your work / life balance?
We recently had our basement in our Stamford shop turned into an office space which has been such a game changer for us. Prior to this, we had no communal space for the team to meet, aside from the shop floor. There are a few of us who work behind the scenes on the website, stock management, social media etc and this space has massively helped us work more productively and collaboratively. It also means that I can much better separate my work and home life. Between being here and in both shops, I hardly ever need to work from home anymore which has definitely helped me switch off. Managing two shops and a website means that there’s always something to think about but I absolutely love what I do so it never really feels like work.
Supporting other independent companies is something that SageBrown is keen to develop. We love collaborating with other like-minded companies to develop our brand and that of other indie retailers that we know our customers will love too. Iris and Violet are offering all SageBrown customers a 10% discount in-store or online using the code:
10% discount code: SageBrown10
After all, our customers are the most important part of our business and we want you to be happy and have a great shopping experience with us and our retail friends.