Sisters Nikki Ford of Totalook Clothing and Skye Taylor of The Shoe Boutique compare goods from their stores around the corner from each other.
Sisters Nikki Ford of Totalook Clothing and Skye Taylor of The Shoe Boutique compare goods from their stores around the corner from each other. Adam Hourigan

Sisters put their best foot, and outfit forward

FOR two sisters who own fashion shops around the corner from each other in Yamba, it's always been that they are related by blood, but not by business.

That's not to say they don't wear each others clothes though.

For Skye Taylor, owner of The Shoe Boutique and Nikki Ford, owner of Totalook Clothing it is an ethos of service, and their own personal style that has kept their small businesses open in the long-term in the tricky retail world.

Totalook Clothing was the first to open in Yamba twelve years ago, and the decision to come to Yamba for Nikki happened almost on a whim.

"Mum and dad originally open Totalook on the northern beaches when I was a teenager,” Nikki said.

"And they travelled up here and saw the shop for lease and rang and asked what I thought about opening another store up here.

"Two weeks later I was here.”

Skye followed five years later after working in a high-stress, travelling-often job, and said the opportunity was right.

"Mum and dad had moved up here by then, but my circumstances had changed and I was in between houses, and mum said all the ladies want a shoe shop so I quit my job and came up,” she said.

"And I love the shoes so I was definitely up for the change.”

Both women said the key to their longevity was that they both chose their own stock which was carefully curated to a wide audience, and not dictated by a corporate brand.

"It's a very creative industry, but you have to be very decisive... and not be afraid to change,” Nikki said.

"Retail is not an easy game, and even having all the workers come in has taken some adjusting, but that's' what you do.

It is this uniqueness that Skye said adds to the retail mix in Yamba currently, which gets complimented by a lot of people visiting town.

"Retail in Yamba is great, there's some beautiful stores here. The holidaymakers are like 'wow this town is amazing, we weren't expecting the shopping here',” she said.

"And that's not just us, everyone has found their little niche, whereas in the city it's all the same.

"With the mix with have in retail and means there's really not a lull any more, people are always coming into the town, whether it's big groups from out west or just daytrippers who come.”

And while there's only a quick walk between the two businesses, the sisters are keen to point out that they deliberately run separate entities.

"We do compliment each others, and I mean, I wear Nikki's clothes and she wears my shoes, but at the end of the day we are separate and that allows us to be individual and make different choices for what we do,” Skye said.

"There is something genetic though. Mum and dad opened Totalook when I was twelve, mum's two sisters own clothing boutiques, my cousin owns one and another cousin's twin daughters all have their own, so I think we have an eye for choosing fashion, and helping people come out of the box,” Nikki said.

"I'm the black sheep doing the shoes,” Skye said with a laugh.

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