They say ‘a fox changes his fur but not his habits’, but fashion habits are exactly what Kate Duncan hopes to change with the opening of Fox & Willow Boutique’s first bricks and mortar store in Toowoomba.
Kate Duncan is a traveller, having lived all over Queensland, from Mount Isa to Kilcoy. Spending a year in Toowoomba in 2011 is all it took for the city to capture her heart. Now Kate has settled, bringing her young family to the Darling Downs, and shifting her online fashion store to the high street. Kate says her drive to run a small business comes from a gene that runs deep in her family. “My grandparents, uncle and aunt all own successful small businesses in Queensland and with my own interstate truck driving husband it was important to me to have work/life balance and the flexibility to care for our children when they are sick. My mother and sister are strong supportive influences in my life and have been so encouraging for me to take the next step and go from an online boutique to a store.”
Family is part of the reason Kate decided to branch out from her successful career as a qualified beauty therapist and salon owner, purchasing what is now known as Fox & Willow from her mother and sister’s original store in Kingscliff. “I was involved in my mother’s store from a marketing and design perspective but it didn’t take long before I fell in love with the fashion side of the business; receiving the new look books, going and seeing new collections and placing orders for next season’s release. It’s really quite addictive!” Where many rural fashion boutiques begin with a store and transition online, Fox & Willow took an alternate approach. “Initially I was only an online store, as it was very important to me to find the perfect location. I used this time to build my brand online and gain social media interest so once the right location came along it was an easy transition.”
When it comes to her own style, Kate describes herself as a bit of fashion gypsy, bohemian one day, and designer the next. “I have an eclectic taste in fashion and I try to reflect that in my store. My style icon is definitely Sarah Jessica Parker, and the glamorous, urban-chic fashionista that her character Carrie Bradshaw evolved into.” Kate carefully curates her collections to embrace a variety of outings, from festival fashion to race day couture. She supports Australian designers, asserting a coastal style. Encouraging local women to embrace new styles and experiment with her fashions has been a thrill for Kate. “It [Toowoomba] is mostly conservative when it comes to style and fashion, and I encourage the customer to step out of their comfort zone and wear something different and sometimes a little more revealing.”
Although Kate has not rewritten the Garden City’s fashion code just yet, a clever fox knows many tricks to stay wild in the urban jungle.
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