A new boutique footwear and accessory shop has opened on Montpellier Mews, Harrogate.
Fennec & Darwin was previously online-only, and this is their first shop.
We put some questions to Aideen Fox, the owner.
Who are Fennec and Darwin ?
The name came from my surname which is Fox. Fennec & Darwin are actually 2 species of Fox.
Why Harrogate and why Montpellier ?
I absolutely LOVE Harrogate, it’s such a charming town. I come to Harrogate a lot with my mum for shopping and tea. The Montpellier area is a beautiful location, full of local independent business. There’s a real sense of community here.
Where has your passion for footwear come from ?
I did a degree in fashion and the worked in fashion and footwear as a buyer – that is wear my passion started. I have worked for a comfort footwear brand in the past, so I believe it is important to have quality shoes that not only look amazing, but feel amazing too. As a result of my experience, comfort and quality play a huge role in my buying decisions
With Harrogate as your first store, where do you see your self expanding ? Are shoes still a product that people prefer to buy in person ?
Hopefully the residents of Harrogate will enjoy my shop, and it would be lovely to expand within the town.
Having been only online during Covid, and then moving to a physical shop as part of a Pop-Up shop in Victoria Gate, Leeds with independent boutique, Katie & May. I found that I absolutely love the interaction with customers and the feedback received. Many people do prefer to try shoes on before buying so I think it makes sense to have a physical shop as well as an online presence.
Were you previously a mail order only business ?
Pre-covid I did various pop-up events in various locations around the north of England. Naturally these were cancelled due to the pandemic and as with many other businesses, I had to adapt. I learned how to build my own website, and moved everything online in order to continue. The goal was always to have a physical shop, but covid gave me the chance to build an online presence which I can run alongside my shop.
What makes for a good shoe ?
From a buying perspective, I enjoy the technical side of the product. I believe the materials and the construction are key to making a good, quality shoe.
However, on a personal level, I like a shoe that allows someone to show their individual style, with styling that is different from the average high street options, yet an easy-to-wear, everyday design.