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New owner of Vanilla store won’t rule out return of shop

PUBLISHED: 06:00 19 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:17 19 August 2020

Louise Lace, who is taking over the Vanilla fashion store and running it as an online-only business. Pic: submitted

Louise Lace, who is taking over the Vanilla fashion store and running it as an online-only business. Pic: submitted

Archant

The new boss of Norwich’s Vanilla fashion store revealed she hasn’t ruled out opening it one day as a shop again.

Anita Vadhir, left, who is passing the business Vanilla onto co director Louise Lace, right, who will be relaunching it online. Pic: VanillaAnita Vadhir, left, who is passing the business Vanilla onto co director Louise Lace, right, who will be relaunching it online. Pic: Vanilla

But Louise Lace, who’s worked with the brand for 20 years, is planning to run it online only for now.

Ms Lace, who is a director of the store in Ipswich Road, is taking over the reins after owners Anita and Abhi Vadir, who’ve run it for 23 years, retire at the end of the month. And she has got lots of ideas on how she is going to re-launch Vanilla as an online only business while still engaging with customers.

MORE: Owner of local artisan chocolate shop opening in Royal Arcade

Vanilla in Ipswich Road is to close after 23 years but the business will continue online. Pic; ArchantVanilla in Ipswich Road is to close after 23 years but the business will continue online. Pic; Archant

“The name and the logo will stay the same but I am going to be offering some Zoom-style appointments, customers can book online and we can look at the new collections and put an outfit together, customers have always had that face to face contact and I don’t want to lose that.”

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Vanilla never had a website until lockdown when Ms Lace finally managed to persuade the owners to launch it.

Anita and Abhi Vadhir are retiring from Vanilla and closing the store which will continue to trade online. Pic; Archant libraryAnita and Abhi Vadhir are retiring from Vanilla and closing the store which will continue to trade online. Pic; Archant library

“It took a pandemic for me to persuade them to go online and the success was phenomenal,” said Ms Lace. “We launched on May 14 and in five days we’d had 100 orders but to take on the shop on my own felt quite overwhelming, it was a little bit too much,” she said.

Ms Lace is hoping to relaunch the Vanilla website on September 24-25 meanwhile she and the Vadhirs are running the shop which now has a closing down sale.

When the news broke that the owners were retiring, the response on social media was enormous – but Ms Lace said she’s had nothing other than messages of support from customers, pledging to buy from the website.

“I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be hard but the support from customers has been amazing. I am going to wait for about six-eight months after launching the new website and then hope I can move from the studio where I am currently to a bigger unit.”

Louise Lace, now taking over Vanilla, was a co-founder of Norwich Fashion Week, pictured here, centre, at a launch back in 2014 with Vanilla's owner Anita Vadhir, left and model Johannah Sangster, right. Pic: Archant library/Bob HobbsLouise Lace, now taking over Vanilla, was a co-founder of Norwich Fashion Week, pictured here, centre, at a launch back in 2014 with Vanilla's owner Anita Vadhir, left and model Johannah Sangster, right. Pic: Archant library/Bob Hobbs

To begin with, Ms Lace is going to manage the website completely by herself, right down to the packing and distribution of items to customers.

A mum of two children, aged 25 and 21, Ms Lace trained at the London College of Fashion and both her mum and her grandmother worked in fashion retail, her mum in the former shop Snob in Norwich and her grandmother for Start-Rite shoes.


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