Jenny and Mary Miller (proprietors), Julie Miller and Helen Lalor at the new store at 50 Leinster Street, Athy
Taking a career break from teaching, Jenny Miller has bravely embarked on a exciting new adventure by opening a boutique in Athy.
Joining her mother, Mary in the trade, Jenny explained how it all started.
“We first opened our store in Portarlington in September 2003. In our early years trade was great, but we have come through some very tough years in the retail trade during the recent recession, as everyone can understand.
“I, myself, was 13 when mam opened the shop, but have always taken a very keen interest in the business. I completed my education and graduated in 2012 as a second level teacher of Irish and Geography, completing my teaching practice in Ardscoil na Tríonoide Athy.”
Jenny went travelling in 2014 and having returned home in December 2015, she decided to take a break from teaching and give the second branch of Fifty Seven a shot.
“We chose Athy, as we felt it has seen the closure of a few exceptional boutiques in recent years, that were never fully replaced. I personally felt there was a gap in the market, along with the slight upturn in the economy, and good timing personally for me, where I had no major commitments holding me back. I felt such an opportunity would never come around again and I didn't want to die wondering.”
She said many people think she must be mad to be taking such a risk. “I am fully aware and accept that, despite my best efforts, which I fully intend on giving to this for as long as I can, there is the reality that it just wont be good enough, and that is the harsh reality that all sole traders have to face up to.
“I also am a believer that small independently owned shops like Fifty Seven have a role to play in the future of retail in Ireland. We need to offer something that the large multinationals don't. Here in Fifty Seven we aim to source and offer a range of products that are not widely available in some of the larger stores and that little bit different."
Jenny emphasised how smaller stores also offer a personal service, which enhances customers' shopping experiences.
"They should feel good about going shopping in their local town and always feel that their custom is greatly valued by the store owner. There is also a very important role for the customer to play however, they do need to recognise and understand that when they make a conscious effort to support their local traders and shop in their local towns, wherever that may be, they will keep the shops and services in their towns. My message is always simple....keep it local."
Fifty Seven Boutique's Monster Opening Sale is now on. The new Spring Summer 2017 collections will be arriving soon from many of the leading Irish and European fashion labels including Avalon, Via-Veneto, Personal Choice, Kate Cooper, Naya, iSay, Miss Via and many more.
The outside of the new Fifty Seven Boutique at Leinster Street, Athy