Country Matters

Careful choosing clothes that work for women of various age groups has enabled Juliet Ledwidge to survive the recession.

Sat, Oct 12, 2013, 00:00

Juliet Ledwidge opened her stylish Greystones boutique Juju (her nickname) at the height of the economic boom and unlike many others that had to shut their doors, she survived the recession by changing her buying strategy. “We used to do evening wear and dresses for weddings, but now I have learnt to be less avant garde, more careful, and to focus on longevity” says the mother of three whose boutique celebrates its eighth birthday this year. For this shoot highlighting some of her new season’s choices she collaborated with her Scottish based sister Jenni Browne for the first time, a hydrologist turned photographer using a local Greystones friend, the former model Caroline Lewis.

Situated between a florist and a wine shop, the boutique’s strength is its daywear. Clients come from as far away as Cork and Waterford on a regular basis for her astute buys rather than clothes for special occasions. “We choose pieces people will want and cherish. The palette is very muted because customers tend to prefer neutrals like stone, navy or grey, but I will always have accessories to brighten things up,” says Ledwidge whose thesis at DIT, where she studied marketing, was on Irish fashion and whose passion for clothes led her to leave a lucrative pharmaceutical job to set up on her own.

She buys from Paris, London and elsewhere; best sellers being brands like Joseph, Hache and Schumacher along with Goldsign jeans from the US, Hartford, (a US inspired French brand) and knitwear from Irish designer Sian Jacobs. Cashmere sells well, particularly from Minnie Rose and Duffy from the US, Johnstons of Elgin and Lucy Downes’ Sphere One. When it comes to accessories, her picks include Melissa Curry’s bold and colourful jewellery and the remarkable scarves made by Professor Richard Weston, an architect, inventor and star of BBC2’s Next Big Thing.

What her customers look for is sophisticated weekend wear, leggings, jackets and knits and well tailored workwear - understated silk shirts, skirts and pantsuits - from designers like Studio Nicolson (rather like Margaret Howell) along with the low keyed, yet washable luxury of Kristensen du Nord, a Danish label. There are other finds she has sourced that attract customers and that suit different shapes and sizes. “I choose pieces I would wear, my sister would wear and my mother would wear, clothes that work for most women”, she says. “You have to buy what you love and I think I have become more confident. What I really enjoy is dealing with customers and knowing that they appreciate my taste.”

Ends.

Captions and credits

Photography by Jenni Browne www.jennibrowne.com

Modelled by Caroline Lewis

Hair by Sarah Byrne and make up Shoshanna Hayden

Styling by Juliet Ledgwide assisted by Nora Robbie

9. Oversize cashmere knit 508, cashmere & lurex beanie 114 both by Sphere One, skinny charcoal grey cords by James Jeans 228, grey merino wool throw 204, brown leather Eta boots 380 by Fiorentini & Baker.

18. Silk floral dress 292 by Hartford, black leather biker jacket 1095 by Joseph, anthracite grey leggings 34 by Wolford, wool/cashmere hat 102 by Hartford, brown leather boots 380 by Fiorentini & Baker.

30. Wool tunic 31o by Hache, black leggings by Goldsign 236, black riding boots 452 by Fiorentini & Baker, taupe pearl necklance by Melissa Curry 280

31. Reversible goose down jacket by Schumacher 530, wax leather black leggings 915 by Joseph

33. White blouse 142 by Just in Case, two tone cropped cardigan 425 by Hache, brocade navy/black trousers 355, stretch leather boots 528 Fiorentini & Baker.

40. Charcoal cashmere jumper dress 426, cashmere “Vixen” snood 228 both by Sphere One, black wax leather leggings 915 by Joseph

43. Crepe stretch red dress 433 by Joseph, Marie Laure Chamorel necklace 270.