Sandy, of Rhian Fashion House in Warsash, firmly believes in the personal touch – she even offers her customers exclusive personal shopping appointments so they can wander around the shop trying things on, drinking coffee and eating buns.
Part of the community for 28 years, Sandy’s fashion boutique on Warsash Road is a treasure trove of stylish, comfortable clothes and glamorous accessories where people leave feeling a million dollars without spending a fortune.
A wide range of Canadian, Scottish, Australian, Danish and English clothing sits alongside beautiful hats, scarves, gloves and jewellery, which will take an outfit to the next level without breaking the bank.
‘I sell clothes for real women of all ages and sizes,’ said Sandy. ‘I don’t sell ultra-designer brands. I do Lyman by Frank Lyman, which is a lovely Canadian label, but since Covid I’ve gone much more casual because that’s what people are buying. I choose all the clothes myself, and I want to give women outfits that will make them feel stylish and confident.
‘Since Covid, I’ve kept the number of people in the shop to a maximum of three and introduced appointment shopping.
‘It gives an exclusive, personal shopping feel and I’ve found that people love it. If there’s no one else in, they can walk around in the clothes. Some come in with a friend for a coffee and a chat – there’s a bakery next door, so we can even have a bun! It brings people out of themselves, and they’ll spend ages here and try on things they wouldn’t normally go for.
‘It’s all about feeling confident in yourself. I always say all sizing is different so you mustn’t be put off by that – it depends on the fabric and the cut of the clothes.
‘I am always honest with people. I would hate anyone to buy something that didn’t make them look and feel good. I want them to go out looking a million dollars.’
Rhian Fashion House – named after Sandy’s daughter – is about more than just clothes.
Sandy has been hosting Ladies Let’s Lunch events for the past three decades, raising more than £200,000 for a range of local charities.
Her next event is on April 4, 2022, at The Concorde Club in Eastleigh, and will be supporting Wessex Heartbeat, the Dave Wellman Cancer Trust, and Southampton General.
‘I really love the shows,’ said Sandy. ‘I bring in models to showcase our latest fashions, and we all have a laugh and a dance.
‘My husband Robert has always said my shop’s my hobby because I love it so much.
‘My business is me; I am the business. My customers are loyal and over the years I have made some lovely friends.
‘People are buying more online now, but there are still plenty who like the personal service they don’t get in the big shops.’
Sandy told her story as part of the Live Love Local campaign, set up by Fareham Borough Council to promote shopping locally.
She said: ‘Even after 28 years, I still get customers who come in and say they didn’t know I was here.
‘Local people sometimes don’t support local because they think it’s too expensive or they go elsewhere out of habit.
‘They should come to us first – they can find some real gems. I have some ladies who tell me their wardrobes are full of my clothes, they never go anywhere else!
‘This Christmas, we have lots of great gift ideas from sparkly gloves and pom pom hats to necklaces by Jess and Lou, which are very reasonably priced and good quality.
‘You don’t need to spend a fortune to look good. You can accessorise things to really make them look like you’ve spent a lot of money.
‘When you go shopping, you want to have a good experience. People do appreciate it; you can make their day.’
For more go to rhianfashionhouse.co.uk/