A new app is allowing shoppers to peruse local independent boutiques and discover items that are a little bit different – from quirky new designers to Irish-made pieces

Aquila Skerries, Fabienne Chapot Dress (€199.99)

Bezzu is a new app to Ireland, which allows small, independent boutiques to make their stock available to shoppers. Originally due to launch this summer, it has launched early due to the Covid-19 crisis causing shop closures, allowing retailers to sell their collections and giving us shoppers another place to scroll for unique buys.

We spoke to Lauren Murphy, Senior Communications Manager for Bezzu, about how shopping with independent boutiques can make a difference, and how to discover cool new labels and unique Irish-made pieces through the app:

Tell us a little bit about Bezzu.

Bezzu is all about supporting local. It is an online shopping app exclusively for independent retail. We created Bezzu because we wanted to give small independent retailers with physical stores a place where they could sell online. A huge amount of the retailers within our app don’t have a website so we wanted to give them a place where they can sell online. We also wanted to create a place where fashion-lovers can discover the type of unique treasures you really can only find in independent boutiques, where you can be assured that the money you spend is going directly into the pocket of a local business owner.

What makes Bezzu different from other online stores?

The fact that it is exclusively for independent retail. This is something that is so useful for someone like me who loves finding those unique little treasures you can really only find in independent stores! It means that you can shop fashion you love and rest assured you won’t be in the same high-street dress as the rest of the country. It also means that the money you spend is going into the pocket of an independent business owner, back into local communities and not going to a faceless online fast fashion giant.

We love to shop in small boutiques when we visit new places, will we be able to find those boutiques?

Absolutely! One of the best features in the app is a ‘map view’ option where you can go in and see what retailers are in your local area. You can have great fun looking around the country and finding beautiful little boutiques you never knew existed. You can either shop online there and then within the app or if the store is close to you, you can pop into the store (once permitted to do so) to try on what you have your eye on.

Take a look inside the May|June issue of Irish Country Magazine.

RARE Jewellery, handmade stacking rings from (€250)

Tell us about some of the interesting labels available on the app.

There are so many to discover. RARE Jewellery Design in Dublin is a third generation jeweller. Designer Denise O’ Connor has the most gorgeous selection of fine jewellery from stunning solid gold organic disc earrings to one-of-a-kind gold gem-encrusted stacking rings.

We also have a boutique called Place, based in Gorey, Co Wexford. They have a sustainable ethos – they concentrate on quality fabrics that are easy to wear and stand the test of time. Each item is lovingly chosen for its beauty, quality and uniqueness, and is carefully sourced.

The there’s Aquila in Skerries, Co Dublin which has a blend of fashion, homeware and gifts. The store itself has a distinct Scandi vibe and sources many brands from this region, but it also has some European labels and small independent companies from the locality, including Fabienne Chapot, Numph Aalia and Karen by Simonsen.

What are the most popular items on Bezzu at the moment?

At the moment it’s summer dresses! Even though we are on lockdown our customers are still getting dressed up and treating themselves with the arrival of the good weather. We have a great selection of summer dresses: maxi, mini, floaty, boho, beach, ruffled, halter, one shoulder – you name it! We have a beautiful edit of dresses on our Instagram page @bezzu_official, from boutiques like 38co Boutique in Kilkenny, Anastasia Boutique in Ranelagh and Brass Boutique in Ennis.

38co Boutique wrap dress (€100)

Our second most popular seller is loungewear – a sign of the times. Things like knit co-ords, cashmere sweaters, suede flatforms and chunky knits from retailers like Cameo Boutique in Antrim, The White Bicycle in Belfast, Kaleidoscope in Dublin, and Nyles & Rafe in Dunboyne. We also have a wide range of men’s sportswear that is proving popular.

Nyles & Rafe jumper (€69.95), trousers (€69.95)

Even though we can’t go anywhere for the foreseeable, we still love to find something unique to wear especially when it comes to a big occasion like a wedding or the races. Does Bezzu have occasion wear?

This app is built specifically for people who love to shop for unique things you really can only find in independent retail. We wanted to create a place where fashion-lovers could come on and find something one-of-a-kind for big events. We want to put an end to the days where you turn up at a big event and you’re wearing the same high street dress as another attendee!

We have everything from super-glam dresses to more understated chic. We actually have the biggest selection of dresses on any app in Ireland at the moment with over 1,500 dresses to choose from!

If you want something glamorous for a wedding or day at the races, we have some fab boutiques like Ruby Rouge in Gorey, Neola in Malahide and Corali Boutique in Fermoy. For something a bit more understated, check out Crave in Naas, Harrison Belfast or Essee in Wexford.

We also have a wide range of gorgeous accessories available within the app. There’s a beautiful jewellery store called Azure in Cork that specialises in wedding accessories, and a wide range of milliners like Aisling Maher in Limerick and Deb Fanning in Dublin.

Boutiques can be great places for bargains, is it possible to shop in the sales?

Yes of course. A lot of our retailers are in the middle of their SS20 stock so have sale items up in the app right now. If you go into the app and into Womenswear you can choose the ‘Sale’ option in filters which is highlighted in red (please note there is a limited selection in the Sale category).

Neola Boutique, Caroline Kilkenny dress (€199.99)

How does Bezzu work if you’re a boutique owner?  

If you want to sign up to Bezzu it couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is go to www.bezzu.com and fill in the sign-up form which takes two minutes. From there you will be appointed an account manager who will help you every step of the way from on-boarding right the way through to getting your business fully shoppable online.

A lot of the feedback we’re getting from retailers is that before they joined they were concerned about the cost and also that they wouldn’t have the know-how to take their business online. Bezzu is free for retailers to sign up and to use and we will never charge retailers a subscription fee. A lot of retailers aren’t used to photographing their stock and we help them with that too.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit before we were due to launch and all the independent retailers that had joined Bezzu were forced to close their doors and shut up shop. As I said, many independent retailers don’t have ecommerce websites so this has meant that their sales and revenue streams have dried up completely. So we launched Bezzu earlier than planned to give these retailers is a lifeline, a way to continue selling their products and a way to help them survive in this very difficult time.