Fashion & Lifestyle boutique owner, Terrigal
Coasting down Scenic Highway on the Central Coast you’re presented with a hidden little gem of a boutique space that has been gracing the local retail scene since 2018. That space we're referring to? None other than the bohemian-inspired lifestyle brand, La Bohème.
Introduced to the Central Coast by Scottish lass, Stephanie Davies, the brand has brought a unique, colourful, comfortable, and creative flair to the coastal Terrigal, Avoca and Kincumber community. To hear all about their local business journey, and Steph’s favourite picks across the Central Coast, we dropped by the flagship store.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE COAST?
"The first day we got to Terrigal, it was a sunny 26 degrees, and we knew we were here to stay. We just loved it and it was just such a good way of life. I’d always lived in cities, so we’d come to this little coastal town but we just loved it and I felt like my shoulders instantly relaxed."
Are you originally from the Central Coast? If not, what brought you to the area?
I am a Scottish girl! About eight years ago we were living in Manchester and my husband, who is Scottish as well, had just finished his medical degree. The Aussies love British GPs so he asked if I wanted to go to Australia. I’d never been before, so why not!
We had our baby daughter Marlowe at the time, who was the only grandchild on both sides, and our parents had thought we would only come over for a couple of years. The first day we got to Terrigal, it was a sunny 26 degrees, and we knew we were here to stay.
We just loved it and it was just such a good way of life. I’d always lived in cities, so we’d come to this little coastal town but we just loved it and I felt like my shoulders instantly relaxed.
Tell us a bit about your creative background…
Prior to coming here, I went to Glasgow School of Art, and after graduation I moved to New York. I was working three jobs including as a stylist and working in a storeroom where I gained so much experience and met so many people in the industry and was just living my best life.
I was working really closely with women and it was more like therapy to be honest, with their trust in me. I dressed them but it was just so satisfying to make them feel good about themselves. I’ve always worked with women, and I’ve always worked in fashion, but particularly in that sort of styling; I loved the building women up aspect.
How did La Bohème come about?
When I moved here, I just didn’t know what to wear. I remember the first night I went out in Terrigal and someone asked me if I was in fancy dress because my outfit was so outrageous! I couldn’t find anything to wear and didn’t know where to start. Living regionally, there weren’t a lot of options. So I decided to start a store. I had no idea what I was doing, no idea how I’d get brands onboard, but again, just drawing on what I was good at; building relationships and reaching out to people. We have now built a solid fashion business based out of Terrigal.
What encouraged you to choose Terrigal as your shopfront location?
There was a gap in the market in Terrigal; there are many locals and visitors to the region craving nice things that are made well, ethically made, and also sourced properly. It took a while, but it’s come full circle. I remember trying to think where would be the best located space, and I knew we had to be in Terrigal. The day I came to see this place, Terry, the owner who lives next door, had see 20 people that day and I rock up with my big Scottish accent. Within five minutes he put his arm around me and shouted, ‘I’m giving it to this girl!’.
What can visitors expect from visiting La Bohème?
La Bohème Lifestyle is a bohemian hub for the community on the Coast, a warm and inviting space showcasing some incredible brands and offering something a little different in a unique location where everyone is welcome. We stock so many beautiful brands. I’m always sourcing new looks and always trying to find different things to bring to the Coast. Including beautiful homewares, incense, candles, and glassware; our space and stock is always evolving.
When we started the store, we stocked a range of beautiful brands. But we now have our own range in-store too. I wasn’t finding what I wanted to wear, and I felt like I knew what people wanted to wear, so we created it! We started with a couple of designs and they just started flying off the rack.
We started doing proper collections, and really thinking about our looks listening to what our customers wanted, and this year, we’re focusing on size inclusivity. As a brand, we’re constantly evolving and we’re going to start doing more inshore events and collaborations with a variety of different brands.
Since launching La Bohème, what has been the most rewarding aspect of running the business?
The reward is from my customers and finding out what they want, to deliver. The people I speak to that come in to the store, or email our team, that’s the reason I do it. When they come in and we get to make them feel really good, and they’ll message us to say they’ve had several compliments that day and feel amazing; that’s why I do it.
When you’re not busily creating or working in this space what are your favourite outside of work things to do on the Central Coast?
Going for walks! Everything morning, I walk to Terrigal Skillion and I do Pilates with a beautiful girl in Avoca, called Pilates with April. Other than that I love going out for lunch and for drinks with friends. Feeling good outside in our beautiful community.
What are your Top 3 local dining suggestions when people ask you for recommendations?
Oh, the pressure is on! My girlfriend owns Shady Palms, and their Margaritas are amazing so I always go there. I love Yellowtail Restaurant for a fancier kind of night out or a date night. We’ll go to the Terrigal Beach House with the kids on a Saturday as it’s simple and easy with live music, and letting the kids run around. The kids are happy so the adults are happy.
Beer, wine, cocktail, or mocktail? If so, what is your local venue for a drink with friends?
The Joker and the Thief! The cocktails are really good in there, everything’s fresh and there’s an older crowd.
Having to always be in the creative mindset when working on a project, is there a place or something you do on the Central Coast that helps ignite that creativity?
Now that the world’s opened up, I love travelling and bringing back what I find or my inspiration to the Coast.
If you could spend one perfect day on the Central Coast, what would it involve?
I’d probably get up early in the morning, walk to the Skillion, before having coffee or breakfast at Three Donkeys at Wamberal, followed by a beach day with my kids and afternoon drinks.
I’d probably head to Shady Palms, Arc Est, or the Swells Terrigal. There are so many places popping up on the coast. When you do have time off, there are so many easy things you can do or choose from so much stuff going on.
Explore curated coastal fashion with Steph...