Sarah Ford meets two sisters who stalk the catwalks to bring hot trends to our county town.
Avid followers of Somerset Life’s blog section on our busy website, somerset.greatbritishlife.co.uk, will already be familiar with the names of Taunton’s very own style gurus, Sarah Haste and Kellie Grainger.
The online diary offers a fascinating insight into the exciting world of fashion from the perspective of these Somerset sisters, who regularly hotfoot it over to Europe’s major shows in search of new labels and trends, which they bring back to their boutique.
Coco Blue sits amongst the pretty 18th-century cottages in Bath Place, Taunton. Sarah and Kellie opened their shop in the county town in 2006 after spotting a gap in the market.
“We felt the South West was crying out for a high-end fashion boutique that was the polar opposite of the fast fashion service that you get on the high street,” says Sarah.“Our focus is quality – both clothing and service.”
Sarah and Kellie, both busy mums who grew up in Somerset, wanted to offer their customers casual fashion – whether for the school run, meeting friends or evenings out.
“We wanted to offer a boutique with great denim, amazing European footwear, edited fashion collections and a whole range of ‘wow’ accessories – a one-stop shop for a beautifully put together look!” says Sarah.
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“I am an avid reader of the national fashion magazines but, more often than not, feel that the clothes featured are so ‘fashion forward’ that they cannot be translated into our everyday lives. Who can wear a 5-inch leopard print heel or a teapot hat to the supermarket?”
Coco Blue customers tend to come from Taunton and the surrounding villages, although there are others who come from as far away as Exeter, Bristol and Wales.
Many are keen to see what the girls bring back from top events such as the Paris Fashion Show or London Fashion Week, where Sarah and Kellie get to rub shoulders with the designers.
They also visit Paris to buy collections that do not come to London, such as the Italian footwear brand Fiorentini + Baker – popular with celebrities and often featured in the fashion press.
Other favourite pieces featured by Coco Blue include American Vintage (which comes from the South of France), Farhi, Bombsell and beautiful Danish-made Epice scarves.
Sarah says: “Being at the centre of the fashion world inspires us to bring the best of fashion home to Taunton.“We attend every season in order to keep our finger on the pulse and see where fashion will be in six months time, making sure we are ahead of the game.
“It’s so exciting to be amongst all these fabulously talented people, and you get to see a few A-listers at the same time!”
The pair even try on all the clothes themselves to ensure they are the perfect fit for the Coco Blue brand. But they are keen to point out that they are no slaves to fashion.
“Because some of our customers are older they are not too bothered about designs which have come straight from the catwalk,” says Kellie.“The emphasis is on the quality, the fit and the cut, as well as the unusual design. We aim to provide something different and we are completely honest if something does not look right on one of our customers.”Sarah adds: “Our ladies want quality pieces which they can mix and match, ensuring they always have a beautiful and stylish outfit to wear.”
Coco Blue can be found online at cocoblueboutique.co.uk. 01823 338399, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org