We have our very own slice of paradise on East Molesey’s Walton Road and there’s an abundance of special items to be found in store.
It was far from a hardship to spend the best part of an hour in Paradise Boutique chatting with business owner Helen Looker. Surrounded by her carefully curated collection of elegant dresses, luxe skirts, sumptuous knits, on-trend trainers and jewellery to die for, our conversation felt more like a personal shopping experience than a discussion about Covid’s impact on small businesses across East Molesey.
The pandemic has meant tough times for Paradise Boutique, as it has for so many of our local and independent stores. The restrictions around how shops operate were – and continue to be – a massive challenge, Helen shares. However, since the most stringent restrictions were lifted in the early summer, she’s found a number of different ways to connect her clientele with the boutique’s collections.
“I’ve hand delivered so many pieces,” she shares. “I’ve left items in hallways and waited out in the car while my lovely customers have tried them on, and diversified my ranges to include face masks, designed to be beautiful accessories in themselves.”
Luckily for us all, and for our Christmas shopping plans, Paradise Boutique is open once again (albeit virtually for the time being). Helen offers click and collect, and when open again private shopping sessions for individuals and small groups of friends too - but any time spent within the store is a treat in my opinion.
Helen is so clearly passionate about the ranges she stocks and as we’re talking she shows me a black velvet, heart covered mid-length dress that would be a Christmas Day hit, a jewel patterned blouse (just perfect for December evenings) and an oversized blush roll neck jumper that, she says, would look great on me with a long pleated skirt and boots. I’m sold!
“These are tough times for everyone,” Helen reflects when I ask her about the coming months. “This Christmas is going to be very different to previous ones. We’re all going to have to work with what is possible in terms of seeing people, shops trading and gathering together for celebrating.”
And while gorgeous clothes can’t change our circumstances, I suggest to Helen, sometimes they can lift our spirits in dark winter months? She smiles. “I think gifting someone you love a beautiful dress to wear, or buying yourself an outfit that makes a seasonal occasion feel special, can make all the difference in these strange times. And it means so much to independent business owners, like me, when you buy locally too.”