Retro chic fan Sophia named as top independent in town

Ipswich Independent Busines of the Year Winner Sophia Norris of Pocketwatch & Petticoats receives he

Ipswich Independent Busines of the Year Winner Sophia Norris of Pocketwatch & Petticoats receives her award from Fiona Wright of Ipswich Central, Ipswich Central board member Cathy Frost and last year's winner, Semra Avcikaya of Alaturka Restaurant. - Credit: Archant

A day out with her mum shopping and exploring the town of Ipswich in April changed Sophia Norris’ life.

Six months later she has just been awarded the town’s Independent Business of the Year 2015 title for her retro vintage ladies boutique, Pocket Watch & Petticoats.

The boutique is above Twist & Shout, Alan Rayner’s men’s clothes shop in St Stephen’s Lane.

When Sophia found the space was empty, the previous business having moved on to new larger premises, she decided to open her own shop.

She explains: “When I got this job I was working four jobs. My dad had died very suddenly and I was helping my mum with the mortgage and stuff like that.

“One of the jobs was as a children’s entertainer. I did everything – magic and face painting and dressing up.”

She came into town, with her mum, for a coffee – and to buy a tea pot. “Mum collects tea pots. I think it was mum’s first time in town. We went into Fish Face (in the Walk), it was lovely.

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“We drank tea out of bone chine, listening to 40s music. I said to my mum: ‘My ambition is to be running my own shop by summer.’ It has always been my dream.

“Then we came here and found it was empty. It was just right. I believe things happen for a purpose, and in positive thinking. Mum helped me make everything and we fitted the shop out in just 17 hours. It was fantastic.

“I think fashion should be out there and vintage ladies’ fashion is fabulous. My own favourite era is the 50s, my personal favourite, because it is so feminime, elegant and flattering. It is for pocket rockets and glamorous goddesses too.”

She says she has been embraced by the local community, has “some brilliant ladies helping me out”.

“Vintage ladies fashion is amazing; I love everything about it,” she says. “It has been fantastic from the get go, really. It is what you put into it.”

She has had a variety of jobs, and lived in Canada for three years. They were a very creative, artistic family, she said,

Dad, Vic Norris who was only 61 when he died, was a head of drama. Mum Pam is a great seamstress and very creative, addes Sophia.

Sophia also has two sisters, who are both very supportive, Carli and Vikki. Carli is an actress, whose TV credits include Hollyoaks while Vikki works in PR.

Sophia said: “I love to dress up, when we all go out together, people cross the street to compliment us on the way we look.

“I buy dresses I like for myself, and then I find they have all been sold! “This is my heart and soul. It has been so much fun.”

While some High Street stores virutally exclude the larger ladies, and tell them to shop on-line, that is not the case here.

“We have every size, from size 6 to 26,” she adds. “I invest a lot of time in engaging with my customers. I get some lovely comments. We have curvy goddesses come in. The only F word in this place is fabulous.”

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