If you venture along East Sussex's picturesque English coast-line, you'll discover one of Britain's hidden gems located in the historic town of Rye, a tourist town with sandy beaches.

Following the cobbled stones to Market Road, I caught up with Clare Gibbons in her thriving new business venture - Colette; an eco-focused Womenswear boutique with a difference.

New beginnings

So tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you decide to take a lead-of-faith and open Colette.

Hello, I’m Clare Gibbons and I set up my boutique in Rye, East Sussex, just over a year. Like many people Covid made me think that life is short and we need to follow our dreams. I have always been interested in clothing and jewellery. So after 30 years in corporate life, I made the move to a small business owner.

Being nominated for such a great award, what makes Colette Rye stand out?

I only stock sustainable and ethical brands (that are good to people, animals and the planet). The brands in Colette are small companies offering quality and stylish items that will stand the test of time. I am also fortunate to be able to offer lovely products (including clothing, bats and jewellery) made by local people, which is of course are the most sustainable of all.

What is the biggest challenge for Womenswear in 2024?

I think we all face big challenges this year, particularly with the financial and political uncertainty. Every day the weight of these challenges can change and so the answer to this question would change daily. However, the key for me is that I am fortunate to have loyal customers that are consciously buying fewer better quality items for timeless style. They have recently voted Colette as the best women's fashion and accessories shop in Sussex as part of the Muddy Stilettos Awards. I am very grateful to have this recognition in 2024.

What trends have you noticed going into 2024?

In Colette, I have noticed that customers are prepared to pay more for a good quality item that they will use regularly and get benefit from without causing undue harm to the environment or other people.

What made you decide to stock Bird Eyewear?

I loved the good credentials and one of the key deciding factors was that the company has achieved B-Corp status. Once I had approached Bird, it was clinched by the professional approach of Ryan.

We've been working together for over a year now, how has working with Bird helped your business?

Rye is a tourist town close to the beautiful sandy Camber beeches and Bird sunglasses are a really good fit in my shop. They are popular with residents and tourists alike.

You know we are always improving and learning from our stockists, so what has been your favourite aspect of working with Bird Eyewear?

The outstanding quality of the sunglasses, including the innovative use of materials, that set them apart from other sunglasses. My customers are keen on quality and distinctive designs that can not be found on every high street.

What’s your favourite Bird Eyewear design?

I love the new ‘Rio’ designs which have a slight retro look but in botanic green give a contemporary look. Perfect for a glamorous look in the sunshine.

What do your customers say about Bird?

My customers are impressed with the warranty that demonstrates the quality of the sunglasses. They love the coloured frames and their favourites are the honey and tawny.

What you say to someone looking to stock Bird?

I would recommend stocking Bird as they sell well and come with lovely packaging and display boards/materials.

What would you like to see next from Bird?

More of the same!

Rio | Botanic

Clare's favourite frame is an excellent seller in her boutique. It's clear to see why it is such a popular design. Made from plant-based bio acetate.

Rio | Botanic

Thanks to Clare for being such a pleasure to work with and for giving us her time. If you're passing Rye, make sure you head to 5A Market Road and give her fabulous boutique a visit.

We believe in ultimate transparency in every aspect of our business, none of our stockists receive any commission/kick-backs or anything similar for their views featured on our website. These are entirely honest and genuine thoughts of our network, who we love working with.

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