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Local spotlight: Derek Kollective

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If there is one mantra that has seen Ana Derek through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s to keep pushing on.

Despite the downturn in foot traffic over the last three months, the owner of Braddon boutique Derek Kollective hasn’t closed her doors for a day, simply because she has found solace in going about her routine and seeing her much-loved customers.

“Even though we were so quiet during that uncertain April month, I needed to keep going and do things like grab my coffee and open the shop for my sanity,” Ana says.

“Those customers who did come through were a great support network and we would chat about how we were feeling, it was almost like a counselling session.”

The massive hit to business is something Ana hasn’t experienced in her 13 years in the retail industry.

One of the pioneers of Lonsdale Street, Ana launched clothing boutique Itrip Iskip with her sister back in 2007, when the now bustling street mostly consisted of petrol stations and car yards.

With its quirky and unique finds, it quickly developed a loyal following of fashion-forward Canberrans with an appetite for street shopping. Ana rebranded the business to Derek Kollective last November, expanding it to include homewares, gifts and bath and body products as well as its usual fashion and vintage offerings.

“When we launched Itrip Iskip I was very young and quirky at the time; I have evolved now and I guess as I’ve grown the business has grown,” says Ana.

“I look for things all over the world for my store, so it’s more personal in that sense.”

Ana used the quiet time during the pandemic to develop the business’ online presence, with products available to purchase from their website.

However, despite the rising popularity of online shopping, nothing beats shopping at Ana’s boutique in person, from being able to feel the fabrics to the excitement of uncovering that last dress in your size (and perhaps even grabbing an ice cream from nearby Frugii after).

“I think more than ever, people just really love that interaction of being able to see, touch and feel what they’re buying, and to experience that service only a small boutique has,” she says.

Ana adds she has been blown away by the support of the Canberra community during this uncertain time.

“I had customers calling me to see if I was ok, and I had a lady who had driven in from Queanbeyan who said she just wanted to shop here to support me,” Ana says.

“I think [this pandemic] has made people realise how important it is to shop local, and to support Canberrans. I’ve grown up here, I know the people, I know the story, I know the shops – I think that’s important to people and none more so than now.”

Shop local to support our locals. Show your support for local businesses on social media by using #CBRtogether.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Derek Kollective
Where: Ori Building, Shop 66/30 Lonsdale St, Braddon
When: Open Tuesday – Fridays, 9 am – 5.30 pm, Saturdays 10 am – 5 pm and Sundays 10 am – 4 pm
Web: derekkollective.com.au

Photography: Rohan Thomson

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