Ipswich: Sisters aim to bring Bohemian Chic to the high street

Jana Batista with a designer dress in Bohemian Chic, the ladies fashion shop in Tower Ramparts she r

Jana Batista with a designer dress in Bohemian Chic, the ladies fashion shop in Tower Ramparts she runs with her sister Laura Santana - Credit: Contributed

SISTERS Jana Batista and Laura Santana have come a long way from Bahia, on the north east coast of Brazil, to Ipswich.

Their modelling careers brought them to Europe, to Paris, Holland, Portugal and Germany.

Now, as young mums in Ipswich, they have put their collective knowledge of fashion, design and quality clothing in to use by launching Bohemian Chic, a new boutique in Tower Ramparts.

Their clothes business is the latest to get the chance to try Test Trading in Tower Ramparts, an initiative supported by the borough council, Tower Ramparts and Buttermarket shopping centres and the local chamber of commerce.

Jana said: “My family have run boutiques in Brazil, and I and my elder sister Laura starting modelling from an early age. My mother and aunt still run boutiques there.

“As I got older I moved on to fashion shows and the catwalk.

“When I was 18, I went to the Netherlands and on to Paris for fashion shows and lived all over Europe.

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“Now I speak English, Spanish and Portuguese, my native language.

“My husband is European and we have a daughter, Melody, who is in her terrible twos.

“My sister has three kids and we wanted to do this. We lead busy lives and will share the work in the shop.”

She had researched the fashion shopping in Ipswich and they had taken a different route from the traditional high street names.

“No two dresses are the same. We have designer labels, Versace, All Saints, Mango, All Saints and Karren Millen. We have some coming fron the United States and my mother is sending some items from her boutique in Brazil.

“I have to work very hard to get every one, some from fashion houses and catwalk shows.”

She holds up a little black dress and explains: “This Karen Millen dress should be £115, we have it here for £30 and there is only one.

“Every piece is unique.

“There are a lot of size 8s but we are aiming to get larger sizes, 14s and 16s. Not everyone is the size of a model, but women love to look great,

“It’s about the cut and quality of the dress which you get with top brands.”

Sister Laura is also a style consultant and will re-style Bohemian Chic customers, free of charge.

Also unique in the shop are the fixtures and fittings, which are designed and made by Jana’s husband, Alex, who is a metal, wood and stone worker and has his own workshop and business in Ipswich.

The family has settled in Ipswich. Jana said: “It is like a city here, with everything you have, but it stil has a very friendly atmosphere.

“We have a lot of friends, of all different nationalities. We like to be here. It is a great atmosphere to raise a child. The pace of life is not as fast as London.”