Founders Eloise Rigby and Bethany Scott-Morris took part in a live Q&A session sharing wisdom to the audience on starting and building an independent brand. There was also a styling series showcasing products from both retailers as well as free-flowing fizz and nibbles.
The idea for the partnership began when the retailers met at the Boutique Star Awards winners’ party in London last November: “We have been keen to collaborate with local like-minded stores who share our values,” says Rigby. “So when some of our team members attended the Boutique Star Awards event in 2022 and were sat on a table next to the lovely Iris and Violet team, we realised it would be a wonderful collaborative opportunity.”
The retailers, which both operate physical stores moments away from each other in Cambridge city centre, discovered there are several brand adjacencies between their businesses. These include a focus on curating original and affordable products, being female-founded and operating two bricks-and-mortar locations.
Meanwhile, as two separate retailers specialising in underwear and womenswear respectively, there were lots of collective styling opportunities to create an effective cross-promotion: “There is an overlap of values in terms of empowering and supporting women as well as small-scale businesses,” Rigby explains. “From a product perspective, we were also able to create some great content pairing underwear with outfits. When brands partner up it is super important to think about the cross-over in terms of aesthetic and approach and if the partnership will make sense to the communities involved.”
The owner says she hopes the collaboration will help grow their collective customer base and raise brand awareness in the local area: “Working with fellow independent brands can be a powerful way to portray what is important to your brand and also enable you to reach new audiences and expand your communities,” she adds. “Relationships between small businesses are so important, as when operating in competitive industries such as womenswear and underwear, it’s crucial to support one another through sharing marketing initiatives, information and key learnings.”
The Pantry Underwear opened its first store in Islington in 2016 followed by a second standalone store in Saffron Walden a few years later. Last September it opened its third store in Cambridge. Iris & Violet, meanwhile, launched in Stamford in 2019 and opened a second shop in Cambridge in June 2021. Both retailers offer carefully curated product line ups both in-store and online from numerous independent brands.
Watch the full Q&A session below…