A friend who owns a dress shop told me a story last week that got me thinking about all the funny (now, not so at the time) things that have happened since Donna Ida opened. Her story was this - a customer was trying on a dress and my friend's dog who was in the shop at the time was uncharacteristically quiet and lying in the shop window....with something. She went over to see what it was and it was the customer's knickers. Quelle horreur! She didn't know if she was more disturbed at her beloved dog eating the knickers, or that the customer had removed them.
So in the spirit of sharing stories here are my top 5 favourites from the world of Donna Ida:
1) My eldest dog Romeo accompanied me to Donna Ida in Chelsea for our first year of opening. In that time he gathered a massive fan base, drew attention to the shop....and disgraced himself and his mistress many times. One sunny Saturday Romeo was prancing back and forth in the window and people were pointing and laughing - but probably a little more than usual. Finally the Visual Merchandiser from Ralph Lauren popped her head in and said 'just so you know, Romeo's pooed in the window. If you like I can spray it silver and we can call it an installation'.
2) There were many such Romeo incidents - most of them similar so I'll let you draw your own conclusions - but one that had me curled in the corner with shame for months after was again, a busy Saturday when we were short staffed and I was rushed off my feet. Romeo hadn't been out for what was probably hours and started pacing the shop floor. A customer was trying jeans on for some time in one of the fitting rooms and when she and I were both distracted he popped in and relieved himself on her handbag. She left with all her top picks free of charge that day, and that was Romeo's last day on the shop floor.
3) Daphne's restaurant two doors down from us have been the best neighbours since Donna Ida opened. They welcomed us and my enthusiastic appetite to Draycott Avenue with open arms. Luckily, because various waiters became my labourers for a few years. The most dramatic moment was when our tricky loo door finally became downright dangerous and I got locked in. Thank god someone else was there to summon a handy Daphne's waiter to come in and break the door down. The splintered loo door is still half standing at Donna Ida in Chelsea. Thank god we're all girls!
4) When Kim started with us about 18 months after the first shop opened she quickly surmised Donna Ida stands for Donna 'I'll Do Anything'. This was no truer than the day a customer was in the shop for so long that the boots she came in wearing no longer fit. Her feet had somehow swollen at least another size. I went next door to Coco De Mer to see if we could buy her some stockings to ease them back in but alas she said she'd rather buy another t-shirt at Donna Ida than spend £40 on a pair of stockings....so I had the bright idea that Kim would drive the customer, her purchases and her bare feet all the way home. That's just good customer service isn't it?!
5) This final story happened quite recently. I was working in our Chelsea boutique and had sold a regular customer some jeans. When she was at the till I spied a Tucker blouse that I own that I thought would look good on her. I suggested it to her and she asked me to try it so she could see. She liked it on me so said she would try and followed me into the fitting room. I wasn't expecting her to be quite so close behind me when the blouse was suddenly plucked from my hands to be replaced by her dog's leash and the fitting room curtin was closed firmly behind me. So there I was standing on the shop floor wearing a pair of jeans, heels, a strapless bra and holding a panting dog. Just another day in the life!