A FASHION lover has fulfilled her lifelong dream of owning her own clothes shop.

Ellen Wray sold vintage clothes over the internet for three years before jumping at the chance to lease a brick-and-mortar branch for her business Kapada from Blaylocks in Old Town.

The 27-year-old hopes that a supportive community of homegrown independent shops will be the way forward for Swindon retailers following a mass exodus of big name brands.

She said: “I used to play as a shopkeeper when I was a kid, I’ve always loved vintage clothes and wanted my own shop, so this has been an amazing experience.

“It was quite risky because you don’t know how much you are going to be making and, unlike selling products from home, there are a lot of overheads to cover, but having a physical space has changed my business for the better.

“There’s a lot of local talent that goes under-appreciated in Swindon, so I like to stock products from companies based here, some of whom I knew before I opened the shop in October and some who approached me afterwards.

“Shoppers want more of an experience with good knowledgeable and personalised service these days, rather than rushing in and out just for the essentials. They want more than what you usually get on the high street, where all the big retailers are quite similar.

“Plus, customers like buying products that are handmade and ethically-sourced, and the Shop Local movement is becoming more popular.

“I think we’re heading for a return to how it used to be with more of a focus on local butchers and bakers and retailers, like going full-circle.”

Along with racks of clothing, the shop stocks cards, candles, crafts and other goods from fellow indie entrepreneurs Felicitations, Lost and Fond, Charlotte Manser, Beau Tie, and Lora O’Callaghan.

Ellen hopes to hold one crafts workshop a month at the Devizes Road shop after sessions making Christmas stockings and knitwear went down well - macramé plant hangers are next.

She added: “I wanted to offer something extra, something fun. I wanted the shop to be small but feel light and airy because vintage clothes shops can often be quite dark and crammed with stuff.

“The customers I’ve had so far have dressed in a range of styles. You don’t have to be covered head -to-toe in ‘50s wear, looking like you’ve gone back in time, you can mix and match vintage and modern clothes in your wardrobe.

“I like to stock a lot of ‘80s clothes because they’re slightly more contemporary than the usual vintage fare.

“The feedback from customers has been really lovely and I’m pleased it’s going so well. People have told me that Old Town needs something like this, something a bit different. Word of mouth is really important.

“Some customers have returned to have another look while wearing what they bought last time, which is great. The other Old Town businesses have been so supportive, it’s a fantastic community to be part of.”