In 1979, Rosemarie Busby decided to start her own business and opened a beautiful ladies' fashion shop in the market town of Tenterden. The first shop was located at 4 & 6, Ashford Road, and was stocked with a wide variety of fashionable and beautifully styled clothes sourced from all over Europe. Her husband, Chris, started his own chartered accountants business located close by in Tenterden high street, and was a tremendous help to Rosemarie. Her mother Irene relocated from her home town of Henley to help Rosemarie run the new shop, 'Elizabeth Rose'.
Only two years after starting the business, Rosemarie opened a second Elizabeth Rose shop at 13 East Cross, Tenterden, selling quality ladies' lingerie and beachwear. The shop was cleverly designed to give an intimate feeling of being 'in your own bedroom'. Selling La Perla lingerie, Simone Perele and Lejaby as well as Gottex swimwear, it became lovingly known as 'The Little Shop’.
In 1985 Tollgate House came on the market. Rosemarie decided to seize the opportunity of relocating both the clothing shop at 4 & 6 Ashford Road and the lingerie shop at 13 East Cross to create her own emporium selling beautiful clothing, lingerie, swimwear and accessories all under one roof – a true paradise for her discerning clientele! Her name was spreading far and wide and new customers were now travelling some distance to visit her shop.
In 1994 Elizabeth Rose won the Drapers Record Magazine's Independent Retailer in the womenswear category, presented by fashion designer Jeff Banks. It was an extremely prestigious and highly competitive award, with ER going up against some very strong entries from independent fashion shops across the UK.
In 1994, after a career in PR at Visa International, Rosemarie's daughter Helen joined the partnership at Elizabeth Rose and began working in the shop alongside her mother.
One of Helen’s first ideas was to open a luxury therapy centre so that customers could really experience the ‘top to toe’ service all under one roof! 1994 saw the beginnings of her vision, and the ‘Therapy Room’ at Elizabeth Rose was opened on the second floor of the shop. With the charming and very talented beauty therapist, Julia, offering luxury treatments, customers could be pampered from head to toe, including massages and facials from Espa, manicures from Jessica Nails, and make-up from New York brand Vincent Longo.
After completing his studies at Manchester University and working for a period of time in France and California for the electronic’s giant, Schlumberger, Rosemarie's son Michael joined the ever-growing Elizabeth Rose business.
This was a highly prestigious award, and after nearly 20 years, Rosemarie's enviable buying talent was being recognised. Considering Rosemarie had not been trained in this field it was an enormous achievement. The award ceremony took place at the Natural History Museum.
In 2003, after a big building project with the help of Helen's husband Dan, Elizabeth Rose further expanded with a new three story retail unit in the heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells.
It was the second time the business had won ‘Best Independent Womenswear Retailer’ in the UK. This award was a fantastic achievement and was especially felt by Michael and Helen, who were now running the business on a day to day basis.
Helen sadly was unable to attend the award ceremony, having just given birth to Charlotte 4 days earlier! However, Michael was supported by some of the Elizabeth Rose staff, and had a fantastic time at the awards which took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. The award was presented by comedian Jimmy Carr.
With the internet becoming a huge part of the modern retail experience, in 2008 Elizabeth Rose decided to launch a brand new online store, embracing multi-channel retailing.
After 30 years, Rosemarie decided that it was time to retire and pass the business on to Helen and Michael, giving her more time with her six grandchildren: Harry, Rory, Alice, Isabelle, Tess and Charlotte, and also her husband, Chris, to pursue their love of travel.
In 2009 ER celebrated its 30 years in business with a party at the shop, supported by all our customers and suppliers. It has been an extraordinary journey and the innovation of the business continues daily with new opportunities in the world of fashion and technology! During the 30 years we have dedicated our time and ability to host events and fashion shows to raise money for the following charities:
- Friends of East Sussex Hospices
- The Kent Air Ambulance
- The Tenterden Day Centre
- Hospice in the Weald
- The Silas Pullen Brain Tumour Charity
- Save the Children
As smartphones and iPads are becoming more and more a household item, we felt it important to improve the look and feel of our website across mobile and handheld devices for the huge proportion of our customer base who are now choosing to shop this way. After Working tirelessly for several months with our talented web developer Robert, we launched the current, 'new-look' elizabeth-rose.com!
A Year full of events, parties, fashion shows and much more to celebrate the 40 year anniversary, supported by all our customers and suppliers. ER continues to flourish in-store and online, selling amazing ladies fashion!
Helen also celebrated her 25 years at Elizabeth Rose in September and Michael kindly organised a surprise tea party at Bottega (a gorgeous italian cafe) next door to us. It was a fabulous event - both current and retired members of our wonderful team came and helped Helen celebrate this very special occasion as well as Rosemarie and Chris, her parents! ‘Has it been that long’ Helen was heard saying in her thank you speech!
January seemed to arrive and the anticipation of the start of a new decade for Elizabeth Rose was so exciting until an unexpected and challenging virus arrived on all of our doorsteps! Sadly the doors to our beautiful shop had to close on Monday 23 March and this was indeed an incredibly emotional day for all of us! Not in our history of 40 years in business had we ever had to close our doors to anything - snow, floods etc but this was something that the world had never seen in 300 years! This virus was going to test the resilience of our wonderful and much treasured shop!
The idea of the ‘Helen from Home’ videos was created and whilst it started off as a means of light entertainment and information on new collections for our customers it turned into a great success and kept us all going! The online shop was a ‘godsend’ to us all so we were able to continue selling all the wonderful collections that were locked behind the doors of Elizabeth Rose, Tenterden for the entire summer season 2020.
Our social media grew and we reached that awesome milestone of 1,000 followers with Live Chats, Helen from Home videos, Michael and Helen raising money for the NHS Together charity by running 5K and the ‘buzz’ of social media helped us to move into different demographics! So there was ‘a silver lining’ to that dark cloud!
During this tough year of COVID, we didn't slow down behind the scenes! We took the oppurtunity to re-platform and launch our new website to a better and more user-friendly system, which has been very well received by our customers. After many months of hard work we are thrilled with the result.
We exhibited for the first time at The Wealden Times Midsummer Fair. We had incredible support from our amazing loyal customers and new faces too, making it such a great success. We showcased an array of fabulous summer fashion accessories that was much-loved and inspired many to try something new. We can't wait for the next one!
We hosted our first event in over 2 years! A vintage tea party in collaboration with Bottega Montalbano, who served all the delicious Italian patisseries.
We raised an amazing £909.13 for The Queen's Commonwealth Trust, from ticket proceeds and our raffle. We were joined by the beautiful Jane, who modelled all our fab collections through the day.
A massive thank you to all our super supportive customers. Ana and her team at Bottega for the amazing Italian treats. Here's to the next event!!
After the success of our debut at The Wealden Times Midsummer Fair last year, we re-exhibited this year. Being more prepared and creating a showstopper stand, we were so thrilled with the result and support we received. Bring on our first Midwinter fair!
Michael celebrated his 25 years at Elizabeth Rose in August and Helen kindly organised a surprise tea party at The Vine (a gorgeous pub) opposite to us. It was a fabulous event - both current and retired members of our wonderful team came and helped Michael celebrate this very special occasion as well as Rosemarie and Chris, his parents and his wonderful wife, Rebecca!
We hosted our first Macmillan Coffee Morning! We raised an amazing £732.72 for this very worthy cause, one close to all our hearts.
It was such a wonderful morning, chatting to all our lovely customers and enjoying all our staff members handmade bakes. Most importantly it was amazing to see so many generous donations.
Happy 80th birthday to Michael & Helen’s Mum, Rosemarie. For those of you who remember she opened and ran Elizabeth Rose, she was incredible, formidable with such a sense of style and, wow, did she know how to dress her customers. She built the fabulous business from nothing in 1979 and such a legacy for Michael & Helen.
Our first Wealden Times Midwinter Fair! After 2 years of exhibiting The Midsummer Fair we dipped our toes in and it was a festive, magical experience. So many amazing artisans and independents being supported and we met some incredible new customers.