What will be willow be for 40-somethings

Nicole Forrest and Gayle Blair co-owners of Willow Boutique, Stockbridge.
Nicole Forrest and Gayle Blair co-owners of Willow Boutique, Stockbridge.
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Some people mark the approach of midlife by splashing out on expensive treats and extravagant flights of fancy.

For working mums Gayle Blair and Nicole Forrest, turning 40 was all about taking control of their lives by following a shared dream of opening their own shop.

Two years on, they are the proud owners of Willow Boutique and have established themselves as part of the thriving independent business community which is helping Stockbridge to cement an enviable reputation for destination shopping.

When the opportunity arose, it seemed like destiny for the pair, whose vision for the branding of the baby and womenswear shop was almost identical.

“We had been working together for ten years previously in another Edinburgh boutique as employees. We were both heading for our 40th birthdays and began thinking we should be doing this for ourselves,” says Gayle. “It felt like a milestone and coincided with our children moving into school. We realised the shop was up for sale and approached the owners.”

While the store had been operating as a baby boutique for a number of years, Gayle and Nicole were keen to put their own stamp on the venture and immediately changed the name and extended the range to include womenswear, jewellery and candles. It also specialises in the newborn to preschool age group, with gifts, toys, books and nursery decor as well as clothing. Popular brands include Blade and Rose, Jellycat, Sugarhill Brighton and Pilgrim, with the shop becoming the first ever stockist of Edinburgh-based babywear brand Sadie:Baby. It has been well received by customers and neighbouring traders and enjoys one of its busiest days on Sundays when Stockbridge Market brings shoppers from across Edinburgh to the area.

Willow Boutique, 5 Raeburn Place, 0131 478 0470.