Some Small Businesses to Support during the Lockdown...

Throughout the lockdown, I've been blown away by how innovative some local businesses have become. When shops were forced to close, instead of lying down and taking the hit, so many of them have raised their games impressively in order to give themselves the best chance of having a business to return to after Covid.
So I thought I'd do a blog post to showcase some of these, in the knowledge that this is always going to be a difficult one because I can't shout out everyone or you'd be reading for days. I've featured a few in a bit more detail first and then I've added a few more names & links at the end of this post of others that are well worth checking out too.

I'm starting with Moi Boutique in Bangor because Zara, the owner is a one woman wonder. Before she was forced to close her shop, she got every single item up on her website, a site she built herself at minimal cost. This meant she could hit the ground running on her social media channels and continue to show off her products each day via try-ons in her home. She's also been able to share new items that are still arriving. Most small shops are unable to cancel their wholesale orders so are still receiving and having to pay for SS20 stock that was bought last summer or autumn, long before Covid was something any of us knew about. It's a cashflow nightmare.
Using strategic discounting on selected products, occasional postage offers and modelling new items every day, she's kept me engaged fully for the past month and I've even made an purchase or two. Most importantly, she's reminded us that she's ready and willing to post wherever AND that stock is being prepped and packed in a safe environment with minimal risk of infection. Vital information for customers at the current time.
My favourite pieces from her current collection include this gorgeous G&M dress - I tried it on when I was in Bangor pre-lockdown. Zara has 25% off dresses & skirts all weekend if you use DRESS25 at checkout!
I also love these basic tops because they are so easy to integrate into your existing wardrobe.
with a split back - lovely loose fit. Comes in Navy too!

Next up, it's one I'm a bit biased about - Field Day. I say biased because I work for Alix, the owner, on a part time/temporary basis, helping with digital marketing. This means that I have the inside view of how hard she is working to keep her business afloat. She's up in the factory alone every day fulfilling online orders and is keeping me busy brainstorming content for her social media channels so that everyone knows she's still going, has offers on and is shipping product all over the world daily. Also, as with Zara, Alix can guarantee that all items are being packaged in a safe environment with minimal handling.
My favourite Field Day product is the Linen candle - it's the bestselling fragrance for a reason. 
The Wild Rose hand soap is also gorgeous and is currently in my bathroom and kitchen. 
Final recommendation, the scented fresheners. Cheap as chips and they really pack a punch in the fragrance department. So effective in smaller rooms like porches/under the stairs etc.

Next up, Finishing Touches TOO in Limavady, a gift shop that sells beautiful accessories and gorgeous stuff for your home. Helen has great taste and her prices are really competitive so I order from her regularly. Recently, I saw these stunning leather bags - made from off-cuts of leather so each one is unique.
Of course, I had to order one..this beauty is a mix of charcoal grey nubuck leather & animal print..
I have a real thing for feathers so this necklace is calling to's so pretty and really well priced
She's also got some gorgeous scarves - perfect for livening up your Zoom calls from home

Next and away from fashion, if you're local and are craving proper bakery stuff, look no further than French Village. This family owned business has risen unbelievably to the challenge, moving from a largely commercial delivery service alongside 2 restaurants to an entirely domestic delivery service covering most of Belfast and the surrounding areas. It's a great example of a business adapting to exactly what people want. We've had 2 deliveries from them since the lockdown started and each week the kids watch out for the van coming because they're so excited to get the toaster on.
 Our favourite items are the white sliced loaf and the sourdough. You can order online on this link with a minimum order size of £15. For me, the online ordering is key - I don't really want to have to ring up for an order. It's nice to sit and work out what you want within your budget. 
Top tip - slice everything before you freeze it so it's faster to defrost and you only have to defrost as you need it.

Next up, I wanted to shout out a business that had no website before lockdown but after many hours of work, does now! This is no mean feat for a boutique...I know the time involved in adding product descriptions and images online. Bravo to Inside Out by Lynne - another gorgeous local shop which sells fashion and home pick of the fashion is this cute breton top:
and my pick of the home stuff are these coasters. I have some of these in black in my kitchen and they're so useful, not just as coasters but as heat resistant pot stands too.

Another business adapting well to lockdown is DejaVu - this time without any website. DejaVu is my preloved shop of choice, based on the Lisburn Road here in Belfast. Ruth is now uploading product daily on Instagram and Facebook and is posting out all over the world and delivering locally herself every day. And people are loving it!
My two favourite posts from this week are these Quay sunglasses at £20
and this dreamy dark navy Earl Jeans leather jacket which is only £60
You can find Ruth over on Facebook on this link - send her a message or comment if you are interested in any of the items.

Meanwhile, my friend Emma from Leopard Print Cards designs and makes her own greetings cards and I'm giving her a shout out here because she's come up with a range of lockdown cards that are just perfect for sending now. I'm contemplating this for my Wedding anniversary next month...
 You can order from the website on this link. If you buy 5 cards, you only pay for 4, there's a discount for NHS staff AND if you would like Emma to write and post out the card directly to the recipient, she will gladly do so. What a great service - another great example of adapting to this new normal.

Two final boutique shout outs, first to Sarah Alexandra Boutique in Newtownards. Sarah has transported her shop to home and is creating some great content on social media, along with attractive discounts and postage anywhere. I may have bought this dress....
Loving some of her comfy cosies that have arrived in this week, she's really ticking the boxes for those of us looking easy to wear items - these jersey bottoms for example:
and also this cosy & bright long line cardigan - adore the colour..
And moving to Banbridge where Mairead has similarly moved The Dresser Boutique to home and is sharing great videos of her latest pieces, interspersed with the real life reality of having a baby with you as you try to work...good job he's the cutest wee thing!
Some highlights from the collection include these short sleeved knits from Rant & Rave...great for this in-between weather
and here's the girl herself modelling the perfect throw on for cooler mornings

If you're looking more inspiration and want to support some great local businesses, I can also recommend the following online shops that are active on social media and posting out regularly so you don't have to miss out on style, gifts and beauty....

It's not a complete list here - just a few of the great shops we have locally that can offer you just a little something different if you are wanting to buy gifts or something nice for yourself. The best bit? You can shop in the knowledge that you're directly supporting a family business - win/win

Thanks and Happy Easter all...I'll be back again next week



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