The Dressing Room Oulton: Meet the sisters behind the thriving Leeds boutique which is giving back to the community
Now a cornerstone of the Oulton high street, The Dressing Room started out with clothes sprawled across Karen Caton's dining room.
The ladies boutique on Aberford Road is owned by Karen, 53, and her sister Katie Pitts who offer bespoke pieces for every occasion.
Now boasting a successful online store, as well as hosting charity raffles to raise cash for local charities, the sisters started sourcing and selling clothes from Karen's home in March 2019.
“We were laid on a sunbed in Tenerife and decided to do something a little bit different," Katie, 37, told the Yorkshire Evening Post
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“We had the space in Karen’s house and started it from there; it ended up a lot bigger than we thought.”
Karen, a former banker, and Katie, who works part-time as a teacher, built up a large following on Facebook and by the end of 2019 they had far outgrown Karen's dining room.
They signed the lease for their Oulton boutique in March 2020 - one week before lockdown.
Despite being forced to close before a customer had walked through the door, and then facing further lockdowns, the Woodlesford sisters continued to build up their brand.
Katie said: “We try to offer a broad range of clothing for everyone, our customers range from 18 to 80.
"We’re not too out there, we’ve got a mixture of everyday and evening pieces but we try to go for classic and timeless pieces which can be the staple of a wardrobe."
"And it's personalised," she added.
"There’s only three of us working there so you get a familiar face and friendly service.
"It’s surprising how many people don’t know what they’re looking for, so we like to chat to find out people’s wants and needs - tailoring the service to them.
“We found that after lockdown people want to talk, so we try to make time for our customers."
As well as running the boutique and an online store, which is now reaching customers all over the country, Katie and Karen have raised thousands of pounds for charity.
Their latest fundraising effort, a Christmas raffle, raised £2,700 for Wakefield Hospice.
"The hospice is close to our hearts," Katie said. "We’ve had a few family members there and we’re aware of how much support they need.
"We had an amazing response, more than 50 businesses donated prizes and the support gave me goosebumps.
"We were delighted to be able to phone the charity and say that we’d raised nearly £3,000."
Katie praised the togetherness of the Woodlesford and Oulton community which has welcomed the boutique onto its high street.
“I think lockdown has made people more appreciative of local businesses," she added.
"People feel safer as they’re not mixing with as many people, but also we have a limited number of every piece that we buy. We don’t want everyone in the village to be wearing the same item.
“There is a real community spirit, everyone likes to pull together and people want to support local.
“The response has been really positive, customers have been brilliant and Facebook has been a fabulous platform for us to grow our business."
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