Indigo Oxford Is Ten!
Today on the blog we’re celebrating 10 years of Indigo on Cowley Road! Sarah and Josh are big advocates of the independent community in Oxford, and have been part of Independent Oxford since our beginning in 2015.
Tell me about how Indigo started.
Indigo started as Saree, which was born out of travels in India. We started out with a stall at the Thursday market in Gloucester Green back in 2006, selling clothing as I was making clothing with tailors in India. We kept being asked if we had a shop, so thought why not?! We were granted our business loan on the Monday that the Lehman Brothers crashed, so had to think twice about going ahead but we felt it was a good time to start a sustainable business.
You are celebrating 10 years of the shop this year! What are you plans to mark the occasion?
Doing the refit this year was a big part of our celebrations – to create a more spacious environment for us all to enjoy. And, on Friday 30th November we’re having an evening event with some sparkles and nibbles from Meli. Louisa from the La Eva team will be in store to offer free hand massages and we will be offering 10% discount on the night or.. if customers buy 10 items they will have the cheapest item thrown in for free! So a good way to start Christmas shopping! This offer will run on Saturday 1st too.
What is the shop best known for?
Indigo is known for being a shop where you can come and buy a piece of clothing for yourself, something for the home and a gift for a friend. We’re increasingly being known for the zero waste products we stock, bamboo toothbrushes are one of our best sellers. And its a place where people come to renew their spirit and bath in the beauty of everything.
How do you source your products?
I go to trade fairs and search on Instagram and Etsy. We also get contacted directly from brands from all over the world. There is so much more choice than when we first started out, it’s a very exciting time.
What makes the shop unique?
I think its partly the range that we stock. As far as I know we are the only ethical store in UK that sells clothing as well as a range of other pieces. But I think its also our relaxed way of being. We want people to feel like they are stepping into someone’s home, that they can have a relaxed and friendly experience.
Where do you find inspiration for new collections?
With the clothing I tend to pick a few key colours each season to go with, but I tend not to follow trends. For us the products are about creating a long term friendship, not a one season fling. We listen to what our customers want too.
What is the favourite part of your job?
I love that the job is so varied. I get to work at home, as admin takes up a lot of time these days, but I also get time in the shop talking with all the lovely and interesting people we have come through our doors. We get to employ our creativity through the window displays, flyer design and merchandising etc and I quite like crunching the figures with Josh!
How do you try and achieve a work/life balance?
We now have our dog Otto so he gets us out for a walk in nature each day. I don’t have the energy I did 10 years ago, so I try to make sure that I switch off in the evenings and at weekends when possible. There have definitely been times when we’ve had it out of balance and found the business has suffered. So we now make sure that we have regular breaks, even if its a trip to the sea for the day.
What advice would you give to someone starting their own bricks and mortar shop?
Be prepared to work really hard the first few years but also get staffing support sooner than you think you can afford it. We were in the shop ourselves for 7 days a week for the first couple of years and tired ourselves out. And create an experience for your customers, as that will make them want to shop with you rather than online.
Lastly, what are your favourite independent businesses in Oxford?
We mainly hang out in East Oxford so Wild Honey, Annie Sloan and to eat Arbequina. Agnes at Meli Deli is like our Mamma, when we need nourishing we go to her for her soup or raw cakes. Oh.. and we are fans of the Souvlaki Brothers when in town!
Indigo is a great example of an independent business in Oxford that has stood the test of time and Sarah and Josh have been able to do that by embracing the local community around them, creating a social hub and collaborating with other independents across the city. Happy birthday Indigo, here’s to many more years to come!
Love, Rosie xxx