Lorna Ruby, named after its eponymous owner, Lorna Ruby Fairbrother, opened its doors in 2011 in Exeter, initially in a smaller location before moving to its current home, a prime location on Exeter’s Catherine Street. Having been an agent for Danish womenswear brands with her partner, they decided to launch the store, offering carefully curated collections of everyday pieces and affordable luxuries.
Lorna Ruby stocks a mix of Scandinavian, French, US and British brands, including Baum & Pferdgarten, Veja, American Vintage, Leon and Harper and Free People, covering womenswear, footwear, jewellery, accessories, homeware, skincare, candles, gifts, cards and more. “I feel this enables us to give a real sense of lifestyle to our customers,” says Fairbrother. “I travel to Paris and Copenhagen once a year and I’m up and down to London a lot. I’m constantly seeking out inspiring new brands through other sources such as social media, too. I have found a number of good suppliers this way. I try not to follow trends too heavily and instead follow my instincts when it comes to buying. Each of my brands has to have a point of difference, but also be something that you are going to reach for time and time again,” she adds.
With a wide customer based that consist in the main from 20 to 55 years of age, Lorna Ruby tries to be as price democratic and accessible as possible, allowing everyone and every budget to shop at the store. “Our prices range from £40 to £300. We have a lot of accessories and add-ons, so that if our customer can’t afford a higher priced item, the least they can leave with is a candle, a piece of jewellery or just a card,” says Fairbrother.
And this strategy seems to be paying off, as Lorna Ruby has become a popular destination for locals as well as tourists, and its website is growing in traffic, too. “The feedback that we get is that people like the style and the products we offer and enjoy the aesthetic of the store. We spend a lot of time on visual merchandising which our customers seem to love,” says Fairbrother. “I like to think that we do offer something different in Exeter. We have a good loyal customer base in the area, and we are always being discovered by tourists all the time, too.”
A lot of the success of the store has to do with the winning lifestyle concept that defines Lorna Ruby, and the fact that it’s more than ‘just’ a clothes shop clearly appeals to the modern consumer. “I think people just want something a bit different. Homewares with a more artisanal feel than some of the mainline pieces offered; an item of clothing that has a point of difference and is a nice quality fabric. The mentality of being able to get something for yourself as well as a nice gift for a friend or something for the home is appealing, especially as we are all so stretched for time these days,” says Fairbrother.
Based on this, the future’s looking bright for Lorna Ruby, and Fairbrother is full of expansion plans: ”Our vision for the next five years is to continue to grow our online presence whilst building on the strength of our bricks and mortar store. We will continue to seek out up and coming brands and, who knows, we may decide to open more stores in the future,” she reveals.