Leading indie retailers, agents and small business experts among judges for this year’s Boutique Star Awards

Sunday Best CEO Jan Shutt will join fashion agent Diane Sykes and small business expert Catherine Erdly to judge the Boutique Star Awards 2023. Sass and Edge co-founders Sally Gott and Rachel Hunt, Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre and Boutique magazine editor Gemma Ward are also confirmed for this year’s panel.

First launched in 2019, the Boutique Star Awards are an annual celebration of the industry’s best independent fashion and lifestyle retailers, industry insiders and brands. This year’s competition includes 17 categories from Fashion Independent of the Year and Social Media Strategy of the Year to British Brand of the Year and Female-Founded Brand of the Year.   

To enter, indies and brands are invitied to write a synopsis of their business and provide supporting evidence to be in with a chance of winning. It’s free to enter and both retailers and suppliers can put themselves forward for as many categories as they are eligible for. The deadline for entries is on Friday 28 July 2023.

The Judges

Jan Shutt, Sunday Best

Sunday Best CEO Jan Shutt is a retail veteran. Famously inspired by the Biba shop on Kensington High Street, she opened her store in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, in 1971 and has been at the helm ever since. Throughout her career there have been countless highlights – from winning national awards and appearing on television to working with high profile designers and supermodels (including the first ever shoot for 15-year-old Agyness Deyn). Over the years Sunday Best has expanded and innovated, taking over neighbouring shop units and moving into e-commerce. Today it continues to be known industry wide as one of the very best multi-brand boutiques in the business.   

Catherine Erdly, The Resilient Retail Club

Small business and retail expert Catherine Erdly founded The Resilient Retail Club in 2018 after working for high street names such as Coast, Laura Ashley and Paperchase. Through her consultancy she offers expert support, education and encouragement to independent retailers, makers and brands who want to grow their businesses. Catherine is a regular expert contributor to forbes.com, judge for the Good Retail Awards and on the editorial board for Modern Retail. With over 20 years’ experience, she is a regular speaker at trade events, television and radio while she recently published her first book, Tame Your Tiger – how to stop your product business eating you alive. In 2022 she was named Charity Champion of the Year by Work For Good.

Sally Gott and Rachel Hunt, Sass and Edge

Friends and former colleagues Sally Gott and Rachel Hunt opened award-winning womenswear independent Sass and Edge in 2017. Armed with many years’ experience in fashion retail, styling and management, they spotted a gap on their local high street for a fun, relaxed and stylish womenswear boutique. Today their Winchester-based store has built a loyal fan base and stocks highly sought-after labels such as Devotion Twins, Self-Portrait, Rails, Bash and Samsøe Samsøe. In 2022 it was named one of the best 50 boutiques in the UK by the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine and won Best Use of Social Media in the Drapers Independent Awards 2021.

Diane Sykes, Diane Sykes Fashion

Diane Sykes has been in the fashion industry since the 1980s. At 19 years old she landed her dream job working in the London showroom of a global fashion designer. This position saw her experiencing all aspects of the industry – from retail operations and buying to merchandising and wholesale sales. Over the years, Diane’s career has taken her from London and the QE2 to New York and back again. In 2015 she launched her own multi brand agency: Diane Sykes Fashion. Specialising in mid-premium European collections, she now proudly supplies discerning indie retailers across the UK and Ireland.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira

Appointed as Bira’s CEO in 2018, Andrew has a wealth of experience in the small business membership sector having previously held the roles of CEO at RLA since 2013 and a senior position at the Federation of Small Businesses. He has vast experience in many key areas that affect indie retailers including lobbying government for changes in legislation. Meanwhile, he is dedicated to helping independent retailers thrive and has spearheaded numerous campaigns and new service launches at Bira.  

Gemma Ward, Boutique magazine

A journalist with almost 20 years’ experience, Gemma Ward is the founding editor of Boutique magazine. The title launched in 2010 as a niche publication dedicated to the needs of independent fashion retailers. Today it is celebrated for its insightful business articles and inspiring content created for small business owners. Gemma has judged a wide range of fashion and beauty industry awards throughout her career and regularly interviews some of the best fashion indies and brands in the business. 

The Boutique Star Awards 2023 are open to all fashion and lifestyle independents operating bricks-and-mortar businesses as well as brands and industry insiders. Entries are now open via boutique-magazine.co.uk/submit-an-entry and will close on Friday 28 July 2023.  Tickets for the winners’ party will go on sale soon; contact E: julie@bpmedialtd.co.uk for more information.