Fashions hot off the London catwalks are now on sale in Lancashire - thanks to a budding young entrepreneur.
Katie Drinkwater, from Cabus, near Garstang, was so fed up of seeing the same clothes on the high street, she decided to do something about it - and set up her own online store.
And after nine months, her hard work has paid off.
The 24-year-old has launched Iris Blue, stocking quirky clothing and accessories sold at the famous fashion markets in Manchester and the capital.
She also sells products from up-and coming designers, specialising in sourcing products which shoppers can get their hands on ahead of the fashion pack.
Katie, a former Garstang High School pupil, said: "I wanted to do something I could be passionate about.
"I started last June researching designers and putting together the website.
"It's quite a long process. I was going backwards and forwards, making changes and it took a while to get it perfect."
Katie decided to go into business after quitting university halfway through an interior design course.
Morecambe-born Katie then spent six months travelling around Australia, where she "decided it was time to get on and set it up."
She used her retail experience - she previously worked in a clothing store and as a visual merchandiser for fashion chain USC in Manchester - and an inheritance to get the store up and running.
Lancashire business support service Enterprise4All also gave her help and advice with accounting, marketing and setting up the company as well as friends and family.
She added: "I've had loads of help. One friend has done all the modelling and another took the pictures.
"My sister's an accountant and she's really helped and my boyfriend Nicky Gordon runs two businesses so I've had a lot of advice.
"My parents were really supportive too when I came back home with no money."
Iris Blue launched in February, and she has seen business pick up over the last few weeks as more people discover her site.
She said: "Most of my sales have been through word of mouth and Facebook.
"But it's not just people buying things off me because they know me any more."
Katie is still working part-time, but her dream is to concentrate on her new venture.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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