For busy shoppers in Horsham it is easy to focus on Swan Walk, the Carfax and West Street but you will be handsomely rewarded if you go further a field.
The newly opened Piries place development with its plethora of restaurants is great for lunch or a leisurely coffee; if you head further a field, there are a cluster of independent shops well worth a visit. Nestling among these, between a lovely old fashioned teashop and the ubiquitous barber’s shop, albeit one that has been trading for over 20 years, sits DejaStyle – a small ladies fashion boutique which, like its owner Angie Maskell, has a big personality.
“I cannot believe that I am celebrating the 3rd anniversary of Deja, the time has flown by but I am loving every minute of looking after my wonderful customers,” says Angie, but she goes on to admit that it has not been plain sailing: “I think I chose the worst possible time to open a retail business”, she laughs, and with the general decline of the high street and the move to shop online she has a point.
Ironically, the development of Piries provided Angie with another big headache: “they literally demolished a car park and rebuilt it right in front of my shop so, yes, it had a big impact on sales; foot fall was reduced and customers thought I had closed down”. But that’s all behind Angie now and she is looking forward to the future doing what she does best sourcing clothes to make her customers look and feel beautiful, “Fashion is a big passion of mine” she says and it is definitely not just for catwalk models but for all women regardless of size and shape.
This is definitely one of Angie’s great strengths – helping women feel good about themselves again. One of Angie’s heroes is Gok Wan and the absolute highlight of her career so far was taking part in his “One Size Fits All Fashion Show” in Brighton last September: “Meeting Gok was a dream come true; he represents everything that’s good about the fashion industry.”
His outrageous humour combined with intuitive empathy is a winning combination and it is these qualities that Angie brings to Deja. She has not been christened Gok Ange for nothing!
Retail therapy is a great mood booster and for this reason Angie runs personal styling sessions where a customer can book an appointment in advance and where they can try on a selection of different colours and styles: “Experimenting with clothes can be a lot of fun, especially when we are introducing a new seasonal collection.
“We are really excited about this season. We have stunning new dresses in bold prints and colours such as red, yellow and green. A welcome splash of colour after the doom and the gloom of the past few months. We also have some ditsy dresses coming in, more muted in tone, but which look specular with chunky knits and hiking boots. And lots more.
“It’s not all about individual items of clothing. Tricks of the trade include clever accessorising and layering which can transform individual pieces into stunning outfits that complement and flatter the figure. A daytime outfit can be transformed into stunning evening wear with the addition of a statement necklace or a silk scarf.” For this reason, Angie stocks a wide variety of accessories which also make perfect presents.
Whilst happy to make suggestions, Angie prides herself on offering impartial advice with absolutely no pressure to buy: “I want customers to feel 100 percent happy with their choices – and customers appreciate an honest opinion; this business is not just about making sales in the short term, but making life long customers who appreciate and value your service.”
Angie has an ideal background for fashion retail. She has a degree in Fashion & Costume Design from The Wimbledon School of Art so can see immediately what works and what doesn’t – essential for a sole trader who is a buyer and a seller, plus everything else rolled into one: “Cut is everything. No piece of clothing can work if it’s badly cut – it has to drape and flow well on the figure. There is so much cheap rubbish out there and the old adage you get what you pay for applies 100 percent to fashion”.
Having also worked in theatre backstage in costume design, Angie became a dab hand with a needle and thread – essential for quick change arounds and alterations. She is able to bring these skills to Deja where she provides a free alteration service much appreciated by customers. Angie also manufactures her own label trousers in a variety of colours. These are made to measure so customers can chose the length and width to suit. They are made from bengaline, a natural fabric with stretch, making them comfortable to wear as well as looking good. They can be full length, ankle grazer, capri or crop depending on customer choice and the season: “Bengaline is a great fabric, as it is breathable which helps keep you warm in winter and cool in the summer.”
Natural fabrics are also a must as far as Angie is concerned and most of the clothes she sells are made of cotton, silk and linen. Again, it is all about quality. As a small independent boutique, Deja cannot compete head on with big high street chains and internet sites, as it lacks the ability to buy in bulk which is vital for keeping costs down. Instead, it focuses on its strengths: “Our philosophy is to source individual unique statement pieces great for special occasions. Added to that, I stock the timeless capsule items that form the bedrock of a woman’s wardrobe.
“I cannot offer the low prices of a high street chain, but I can (and do) offer excellent value for money, providing designer pieces and a great customer service.”
So what not pay Angie a visit? She is located at Park Place, with nearby parking a stone’s throw away at Piries Place and can also be found on facebook and instagram too.
Throughout March, she is running a 3rd birthday celebration promotion – buy 3 items and receive a free gift! With Mothers Day coming up soon, she can help you select the perfect present – she stocks sumptuous silk scarves, classic handbags, costume jewellery and one size clothing items, all of which make the perfect gift.
Whether buying a present or shopping for yourself, you can guarantee a warm Deja welcome!