Not many people can claim their lives changed after witnessing a serval hunt, but Je’anne Holley can. She and her husband chose country over city life. They moved to Wartburg, and she commutes to Pietermaritzburg to manage her shop Fenn+Ivy.
How did your business start?
I was a buyer for a retail company for a few years – which were some of the best years of my life. I then met my husband, a lawyer, and one day after seeing a serval hunt on his family’s farm in Wartburg, we discussed how we saw our life panning out. We kicked the city life and moved to the farm. A big move, a baby, and after a year or two, my creative eye needed to be stimulated again. Fenn+Ivy was born.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
I initially opened my space in a shop in Wartburg (Taylor Made House). After a year, in order to grow and expand my vision, I needed a more visual and accessible spot, a retail centre where the foot traffic’s consistent. I live in Wartburg, so the drive into Pietermaritzburg is not too bad.
How did you find your premises?
Of all the centres, Cascades Lifestyle Centre was the most suitable fit – more boutique focused, intimate and personal, not as commercial. With the renovations, it will only grow and attract more people. It’s been around for a long time, so you also have a loyal customer base. I am also hoping that potential future tenants will bring edge and excitement.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
It’s small and focused. The new improvements to Woolworths are going to be a huge attraction, which makes my shop perfectly situated (I am a few shops down). The new centre improvements are in line with the look and feel of Fenn+Ivy – I’m not just a lost number, which can happen to a small boutique store in a huge mall.
Who are your neighbours?
I have the beautiful Bump & Beyond shop next to me who just happens to be family too.
What are the shop rental/sales prices like in this area?
The rental is in line with what you generally find out there.
What is your shop footprint?
I probably have about 200 customers a week passing through my shop.
Do you have any expansion plans?
Not at the moment – I have only been open a year, and have a lot to learn, improve on and pay off. Maybe in the next five years.
Do you operate online as well?
No, but if customers from other areas/cities email me, I courier. A lot of people follow my Instagram (@fennandivy) and Facebook feed (FENN + IVY), and I get requests via those media.
What’s your most popular item?
That is very hard to say as I sell an extremely well-balanced mix of ladies’ versus kids’ clothes. But, the bags are popular, kidswear sells well on a daily basis, and the ladies’ ranges are very popular.
Words: Anne Schauffer
Images: Aldine Venter – InkBlack Visual Art