Shawlands sisters are in Fashion

SIBLING rivalry isn't a problem for sisters Gillian Cobb and Pam Cunningham, who seem to positively thrive on their collective enthusiasm.

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Sisters Gillian Cobb, left, and Pam Cunningham in their Shawlands shop.               Pictures: Jeff Holmes
Sisters Gillian Cobb, left, and Pam Cunningham in their Shawlands shop. Pictures: Jeff Holmes

They opened clothing and interiors store Butterfly Kisses in Skirving Street, Shawlands, just over five years ago and quickly found a loyal customer base looking for a stylish alternative to the high street.

The architect-designed interior beautifully complements the range of labels on offer, updated seasonally, from the likes of Darling, Yaya, St Martins and Avoca.

It's a far cry from their first experience of a family business when they took over the petrol station their mum ran before she died a few years ago.

"We decided we wanted to do something for ourselves," explains Pam, "so we sold the garage and started looking for property and premises.

"By fate this came up in Skirving Street. We live locally so it was perfect."

Already armed with an accountancy degree, Gillian went back to university to study for a masters in fashion marketing, picking up invaluable experience along on way on buying, merchandising and marketing, and making all-important contacts at London Fashion Week shows.

"We have both always loved fashion," smiles Gillian, "so after I did the course we thought, let's do it - it's now or never."

Avid readers of the trade and fashion press, the sisters buy stock six months in advance and are very excited about the new spring styles coming in store soon, including soft pastel colours and bold digital floral prints with jewellery and accessories, including bags by Nica, Darling and Joules.

"We do the buying together," laughs Pam. "It's a bit of: I like this, I don't like that. But we usually agree in the end."

Adds Gillian: "Most of it is gut instinct, to be honest. We also think when we see things, this customer would really like that."

Young mums in their 30s definitely make up a large number of the customers of Butterfly Kisses. They're maybe a wee bit quirky and are looking for something a little bit different.

As if on cue, while we're talking, a young woman arrives with a pushchair and browses the rails looking for a party dress.

Before Pam goes off to talk to her, she explains how the shop has been planned to be child and pram-friendly with plenty of space around rails and shelves.

Butterfly Kisses isn't all for the grown-ups. There is a big selection of childrenswear, as well as gifts and interiors buys.

The range of children's clothes by Joules is particularly popular, as well as Bob & Blossom, Olive and Moss and organic baby brand Nature's Purest.

New to the children's section are brightly coloured pinafores, hand-made and designed by Houston-based company Ruru & Lili.

The shop is one of the few Glasgow stockists of the Orla Keily range, with everything from kitchen storage jars and tins to candles and toiletry gift sets in her trademark designs.

What does 2014 hold for the burgeoning business?

"We're very close to launching our website, so customers will be able to browse the rails online and shop," says Gillian.

"We've always said our biggest asset is our customer service.

"We try to go out of our way for people, if someone comes in looking for something special we try and get it for them."

Looking longer term, this particular butterfly could be spreading its wings as the sisters reveal they would love to open another branch.

l Butterfly Kisses, 8 Skirving Street, Shawlands, Glasgow.


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