Over the last few months, I have become very conscious of the effect fashion is having on the environment and also some of the human rights issues involved in manufacturing. I therefore want to take some time on the blog to support sustainable fashion and local companies.
I am starting off with an interview with Mandy, the founder of ‘Mandy’s Heaven’, a boutique experience for all shapes, sizes and ages, featuring a beautiful collection of clothes designed for and modeled by real women, including clothes for mature women and plus size fashion.
Real clothes for real women – an interview with Mandy from ‘Mandy’s Heaven’
Mandy dreamed of creating a place where the shopping experience was a pleasant adventure with a personal touch. She wanted her customers to enjoy looking through the ladies plus size clothes and clothes for mature women in a cosy atmosphere; perhaps with a cake, coffee or a glass of Prosecco in hand.
See below for my interview with Mandy and to find out more about ‘Mandy’s Heaven‘, which is now also an on-line boutique, supplying real clothes for and modelled by real women.
What was the inspiration for Mandy’s Heaven?
I’ve always been interested in looking good and being stylish, but as I matured, I reached a point where I knew that I didn’t want to dress in the fast-fashions that were being offered by the various chain stores, nor did I wish to spend more than I had to in order to build a wardrobe full of beautiful clothing. I wanted clothing that was multifunctional and comfortable, but didn’t make me look frumpy or older than I felt.
So, my number one priority was to make elegant, affordable, well-made pieces available to mature women who are still young at heart and want to be fashionable.
The solution came in 2013, when my favorite local store announced it was closing and the owner suggested I help sell off the remaining merchandise. As a trained beautician, I knew the importance of bringing together all of the elements of style and fashion in order to make women feel their best, so I said yes and started down a new path!
The living room of my 400 year old thatched cottage quickly became the space where my dream could finally come true. Mandy’s Heaven started with only three rails of clothes… a small inventory but a lot of passion. Soon my friends flocked to my shop excited by the opportunity to experience this entirely new way of shopping. They brought their friends who brought their friends and within months, my little Mandy’s Heaven range had spread to three whole rooms.
I didn’t have a business plan, only my passion and vision of creating the ultimate personal shopping experience. Now we offer a constantly changing range of ladies plus size clothes, clothes for mature women, jewellery and fashion accessories including more than 400 different lines.
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been three years since I opened a boutique in the living room of the home that John and I have spent the past thirty years renovating, expanding and improving!
I know you started out in your living room, offering a very personalised client service. How easy was if for you to manage the expansion into an on-line business?
From the beginning, the response to Mandy’s Heaven was overwhelming and I found myself looking forward to each new appointment and the opportunity to help women look their stunning best!
As I’ve expanded my business, I’ve had the opportunity to bring Mandy’s Heaven into different cities and towns through the advent of pop-up shops and Charity Fund raising events.
The business then grew so quickly we decided to bring Mandy’s Heaven online as the house only gave us the opportunity to supply to local people. Starting up online meant we could offer my service across the UK, Europe and World. The business is driven by me buying primarily for the personalised service in the house, and these ranges will then be put on the website with my consent. I can also share my guidance and knowledge through the fashion blog (see here ) and through putting outfits together for the photoshoots.
We maintain the personal touch in everything we do. The way we pack, wrap, and ship – everything is done with our customers in mind. It started with a vision of providing a unique and personal shopping experience for mature women and it hasn’t changed much since then.
What kind of woman is your typical customer?
Someone that socializes a lot and wants to look stylish for every occasion whether that be a day or evening and likes something a little bit different from the high street.
I love the fact that Mandy’s heaven is a family business and that all the family is involved in the running of the company. Can you tell me what role each of you plays?
I do all the buying and putting the collections together, John (my husband) does the financial side of the business and day to day running (chief packer) and last but not least Jay who is the brains behind the website and marketing and is the technical guru.
I see that you have a French and Italian influence behind your clothes range? Is this where the majority of your clothes are manufactured and how did you find the right manufacturers?
Yes the majority are manufactured in Italy which we then purchase from our suppliers
How do you manage new lines and how often do you introduce new products?
We introduce up to 40 new lines weekly, buying in small quantities we are able to provide customers with a large range of clothing which ensures our customers feel they are able to buy clothes which are exclusive and which not everyone is going to have.
Where are your products currently available and do you have any plans to expand to other countries?
We currently sell our collection in concessions around Hertfordshire and Essex setting up small boutiques in hairdressers, beauticians, gyms and tearooms. We offer an on-line shopping experience throughout Europe and to America.
What is the best part of your job?
I love being able to offer a personalised service tailored to meet the needs of each individual woman because for me, the feeling of success comes from having a woman come into my showroom and leave feeling like a million dollars (without having to spend a million, of course)!
What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
The most difficult aspect of my job is trying to convince suppliers to provide a big enough range of plus size clothing. There is such a a demand for it but we struggle to find suitable suppliers.
What are your plans for the future?
We hope to continue to grow and expand all over the world. We want to be an online destination for women everywhere.
Finally, I also noticed that giving back to the community is an essential part of your policy. Can you tell me a few of the initiatives you have been involved in?
We have been involved in raising money for local charities as well as bigger ones. These include Grove Cottage which is a school in Bishop Stortford for children with disabilities. We also raise money for charities such as breast cancer care, Unicef, The Womens Institute, Macmillian and many more! We raise money by doing events such as pop-up shops, fashion shows, shopping evenings, coffee mornings and various other events.
Its important for us to ensure we are doing our bit to help the community.
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Mandy from ‘Mandy’s Heaven‘ and I would love your feedback. What do you think? Are you a high street shopper or do you prefer a more personalised service?
If you are a local business and/or involved in sustainable or ethical fashion and would like to be featured on the blog, please send me an e-mail. Please note that these are not sponsored posts. I do not require or accept products or payment for this type of feature, but I do require that your business fits in with the style and content of my blog.
You can also contact me via e-mail if you would like any advice or just to chat.
Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!