A positive change

When Diana Owesen lost the retail premises she’d called home for nine years, she had to change course. The re-set, however, challenging though it was, ended well.

We find ourselves in North-western Norway, in the charming coastal town of Kristiansund. This is where we meet boutique guru Diana Owesen, who has more than 25 years in the rag trade behind her. With a large portfolio of different roles and ownership in various clothes stores, one thing is certain: she loves what she does.

“I’ve pretty much seen it all. To be honest, though, I’ve also been lucky with what I’ve done. Every day at work is a good day because I simply love what I do.”

First Floyd, then Cosmo

Having successfully run Floyd for four years, her fingers are itching for more. That’s when she decides to set up Cosmo – in the same street as Floyd – in the centre of Kristiansund. She also asserts that street level is where she wants to run her shops:

“We’ve never had such good turnover as when we left the centre for shops at street level. I can’t say we’ll never open in a centre again, but we do enjoy being on our own.”

Two becomes one

After nine years in the same premises, Owesen was given notice that they had to be out within three months.

“When you’re running fashion stores, finding new premises is no easy job. There’s so much that needs to be done, in addition to finding new premises that will work for you. We found a temporary home for nine months, then stumbled over an enormous property that was for sale and ended up buying it. It needed a total overhaul – what with fire damage and all kinds of other things – but after a few months’ renovation, we were able to move in. We’d never have managed the renovation without my husband who immediately took the work on. I found out that being married to a real handyman is not that bad an idea,” laughs Owesen.

“We’ve never had such good turnover as when we left the centre for shops at street level.”

Diana Owesen

“We’ve got 450 square metres, with Floyd on one side and Cosmo on the other. We’re not right in the centre of town as we were before, but just a couple of minutes’ walk away. Despite that, we’ve had a stable increase every month since we moved. That means that people can find us regardless.”

“Now we’ve got two shops in one, with shared changing rooms and checkout. Other than that, the two shops are still really separate from one another; they even have their own window displays. In the middle of the store, we’ve put shoes, bags and accessories. People really like it, and we’ve had many, many more younger customers in the shop. I think that’s really nice.”

Party space

“Was there a big opening party?”

“Even with two tills on the go, there was a queue through the whole shop – and that’s long. And the queue was there from ten in the morning until six. Talk about turnover record deluxe! I’ve never known anything like it. It was not at all what we were expecting, and we felt very humbled and grateful. To put it another way, you can’t take it for granted that things are going to work,” Owesen says.

“The people doing the shopping want to keep it local.”

Diana Owesen

“We also tried holding a fashion show last autumn. We set up 100 seats in the store, with the catwalk in between. It actually turned out to be a tremendous success. All the seats were booked within a half hour of our making them available. We ended up having 112 people in, which was a bit too many. But it was great fun for all that.

“Every day at work is a good day because I simply love what I do.”

Diana Owesen

    An unconventional pandemic

    “How did you survive the pandemic?”

    “It was really hard to begin with. We don’t sell much online, so things came to a bit of a stop. After a bit of pondering, however, we came up with one-by-one shopping. People could book a certain time. Then I had a half hour with each customer, and it worked brilliantly. We were able to give people the service they wanted, and that’s particularly important when we’re based in such a small place. The people doing the shopping want to keep it local,” Owesen says.