All in the Family

Having launched in Toowoomba two years ago, Florence & Marabel have made the move to Grand Central this October. The boutique is the shared dream of mother-and-daughter duo Donna Mills and Alex Cook. Their charming collection is a curation of brands they both covet – Australian and European labels best known for feminine statement pieces and classic everyday wear, including Mela Purdie, Stevie May, Zoe Kratzmann, and We Are Kindred. If you're dressing for a lazy brunch or evening cocktail, visit this stylish team for advice. We caught up with Donna to ask how this boutique came to be.


When did you realise you had a viable business idea in F&M?

Owning our own fashion boutique had always been a desire of ours and it really all fell together when Donna moved from Goondiwindi to Toowoomba and we were living in the same place again. Toowoomba was at a really exciting period of growth and we felt like it was the perfect time to take the leap. Having the online store offering was something that we knew was necessary when it came to viability and it has allowed us to create a loyal customer base that extends further than just Toowoomba.


Where and how do you seek out designers to feature in your store?

We draw a lot on our own personal styles and the brands we love to wear. For us, the quality is extremely important, so when we find a brand that creates timeless, quality pieces for the modern woman, it’s a no brainer for us. We also pride ourselves on the unique brands we offer. Our European labels are among our most popular and it’s simply because there aren’t many stores in Australia where you can find those same pieces.


What were each of you doing career-wise before opening your store?

We both have a background in hair and beauty with some retail experience thrown into the mix. Our backgrounds and our lifelong love of fashion meant that it was quite an easy transition into opening Florence & Marabel.


How do each of your wardrobes differ?

Donna: I would describe my style as classic chic. I love to find feminine statement pieces that I can wear again and again.

Alex: My style varies depending on the season! I tend to lean towards a minimalist streetwear style in the cooler months, but love a floaty, vintage vibe in Summer.


What do you most enjoy about working with a family member?

We have always been very close and our similar ideas on fashion mixed with this has allowed it to work well for us. We are very honest with each other when it comes to our ideas and that open line of communication is a must in business.


Where did the name Florence & Marabel come from?

The name was inspired by our love for the city of Florence, Italy, after a holiday there together in 2012. Not only do we hold special memories of our time there, but it is also one of the top fashion destinations in the world; these two elements came together perfectly.


What kind of atmosphere did you want to create in the store's design and layout?

We love to focus on the overall experience when it comes to shopping at Florence & Marabel. We aim to create a comfortable, customer-centric atmosphere where women love to come for more than just the beautiful clothes. Every design element of our physical store is something that has been personally dreamt up, and we think that creates a special feeling for those who shop with us.


Is the store a lifelong dream come true for you?

Absolutely. It has always been a dream for both of us to own a fashion boutique offering special pieces curated by us. Making the move into Grand Central is something that we couldn’t have imagined when we began this journey!


Willow Bias Tee Dress, $330                                              Pastel Tassel Earrings, $44.95                                           Sunday Skirt, $410

See Donna and Alex at Florence and Marabel on Level 1 of the Retail Galleria for extensive styling advice to help choose your next perfect outfit for that special occasion or simply for lunch with the girls.