Poppy Green is the owner & founder of Alessa’s Boutique – a women’s fashion store based in Sunderland’s historic Sunniside quarter that can also be accessed in a variety of community-based locations.
After taking a trip to the vibrant country of Bangladesh, along with attending a BIPC workshop focussing on retail, Poppy felt inspired to open her own premises. Read on to find out more about Poppy’s empowering business story, her passion for sustainable fashion and through her beautiful clothing range, enabling women to feel good about themselves and feel confident
Please introduce yourself and your business
I’m Poppy Green and I started Alessa’s Boutique in 2022. Alessa’s Boutique is based at 14 Norfolk Street, Sunderland in the historic Sunniside quarter. It also operates as a ‘Pop-Up’ boutique at other venues, making it accessible to women from all sectors of the community. The business specialises in preowned Western Infused South Asian Fashion, with a particular focus on sustainable brands.
The Boutique provides a friendly atmosphere where you can drink tea, chat, and try on clothes, in a relaxed environment. We also give a personal shopper experience and clothing adjustment service to provide the perfect fit.
Due to the increasing social elements identified within Alessa’s Boutique, a social enterprise has also developed from the business. Alessa’s Boutique provides a base for Women’s Community Boutique which will address and deliver the social aspects of the business. The Community Interest Company will play a key part in the physical and psychological well-being of our customers which will benefit the wider community and the environment.
What was the inspiration for your business idea?
I love comfortable, practical, and versatile clothing that looks good. If I look good in an outfit, I will wear it again and again, in different ways. On days when I don’t feel so good, I will wear it to remind me the exterior has not changed overnight. That’s what my business is all about, to make women feel good about themselves: to empower and enable them to embrace themselves as they are.
I started Alessa’s Boutique in January 2022 after a trip to Bangladesh, to see my mother who my business is named after. The fragility of the place where I was born, was a stark reminder of how lucky I am to be living in the UK. There is so much beauty and wonder in Bangladesh and the resilience of the people to navigate their way through life is astounding. I came back with a renewed sense of being and appreciation of my surroundings and a strengthened identity of Who I am.
I love living in Sunderland, I have beaches, parks and all the amenities at my doorstep. I have spent most of my life trying to blend in and clothing played a big part in this. The South Asian part of me disappeared into the midst of beige and black apparel. Now, I embrace my roots and my heritage, and I wear a fusion of western and South Asian clothing, full of colour, patterns and that show who I really am.
My business is based on three things, my respect and love for the environment, my understanding on the importance of social engagement and interactions and community networking, and my love for fashion, which has been given a new lease of life through amalgamating Western and South Asian culture. This is how Alessa’s Boutique came about. It’s about protecting the environment by being a sustainable fashion business, bringing women together from all backgrounds, having a laugh, drinking tea together, trying on new clothes, empowering, and inspiring each other through body positivity and talking about what fashion means to us.
What BIPC services or activities did you use?
BIPC held a networking event which I attended. This event proved very useful to me as I was looking for premises for my business. As a result of this event, I was made aware of financial support for new businesses setting up in Sunderland City Centre. Events like these are invaluable. The information provided helped me to progress to the next stage in my business.
What are your future plans?
By end of 2023 , I will be able to employ a number of individuals and will be looking to expand my business and the CIC. My longer-term plan is to replicate this business model across the UK.
What is your advice for those who are thinking of starting their own business?
If you have an idea, share it. Tell people about it. Attend networking events. Be prepared to develop and change and adopt new ideas without compromising on the ethos of your business. Your passion is what will get you through the most difficult times. Explore all avenues. Where there are obstacles, there are opportunities. Be realistic and practical and ask for help and support. You are not alone.