The FMLY Store, Bruton: The perfect pit stop for parents
PUBLISHED: 15:49 01 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:29 01 April 2019
Dave Watts / derwoodphotography 2015
There's a shop in Bruton where you can drink coffee, buy clothes, chat and have a tantrum, if you like
Most of my shopping trips these days are done at high-speed – roughly the time it takes to eat a bag of Mini Cheddars.
Browsing and children don’t really go together. It’s best if we’re all in and out of there as quickly as possible.
At The FMLY Store in Bruton, however, everyone is encouraged to take their time and enjoy their shopping experience.
Colouring and activities have been laid out for the kids and there are rails of beautifully stylish clothing, shelves full of books and proper coffee on hand for the grown-ups.
But as well as retail therapy, parents can come here and be supported. The FMLY Store hosts regular events, offering everything from help with mental health matters to advice on how to build your home-grown business.
“The idea is that we’re a space for families to come and chill and have some sanity time, but also that we’re empowering our audience to go and do whatever they want to do,” says founder Molly Gunn, journalist and mother of three.
She opened The FMLY Store just over two years ago, based on the huge success of her parenting blog, The Selfish Mother, a platform for like-minded people to come together and share their thoughts on the massive ups and downs of childrearing.
Out of that came a signature clothing line, launched by Molly in 2014 to raise money for female survivors of war. The ethically produced slogan T-shirts and jumpers have been a massive hit and have been worn by celebrities such as Kate Moss and Jamie Oliver. Opening a shop was the next logical step.
“It was really exciting because I could embody all the things I wanted to achieve,” says Molly, who picked Bruton as her base, just because she loved it.
“We’d never been before but we met some friends here for brunch in At the Chapel and we just said, this is really lovely. We thought if it’s got somewhere as stylish as this, then there must be other stuff going on. You just get a feeling.”
Molly’s gut instincts were right and Bruton has proved to be the perfect place to set up shop.
Local families have made The FMLY Store their regular pit-stop, as have parents travelling down the A303 to Devon or Cornwall who want a comfort break in stylish surroundings. Some people have even camped nearby.
“One woman planned her entire family’s summer camping holiday around coming here,” says Molly. “She didn’t actually tell her husband that was the reason.”
Being somewhere cool and relaxing with the kids is a real treat – it’s easy to see why so many parents are fans. Nobody needs be on best behaviour here.
“Your kid might come in and have a meltdown, and that’s ok,” says Molly. “There’s also a lot of space. When you go to shops with small children, it can feel claustrophobic. The kid wants to get out as soon as possible. They don’t want you to be in there. I wanted to create a space that they wanted to be in as much as the adults. And you can push a double buggy around.”
As we chat, a mum with a very new baby has just finished breastfeeding, strapped him to her front and is quietly flicking through the rails of clothes.
Experience tells me she’s got about 20 minutes of me-time before the next nappy change. What a lovely way to spend that precious window.
“I love seeing people using the space,” says Molly, who works her day around her kids, Rafferty, seven, Fox, five and Liberty, 20 months.
“What’s really great is that on, say, a Saturday, you’ll have loads of families in here and kids running around, parents shopping and having coffee but then it completely changes when we have events.
“We have lots of people come here to do talks that have done interesting things, or they’ve written a book or they’re experts on social media. We pull the chairs out and the whole place transforms into an events space.”
There are more sessions and workshops planned this year, including the regular We Mean Business coffee mornings.
Molly is currently working on some new clothing designs and has just launched a collaboration with beauty retailer Space NK.
“It’s really exciting,” says Molly, adding that feedback so far has been great. “Someone recently wrote a blog post saying they wished every town had a FMLY Store.”
I can see what they mean. Shopping with kids would certainly be more fun.
Molly has lived all over the UK and in Germany but is now proud to call Bruton home.
“I love it,” she says. “There’s a great, supportive, collaborative community here. What I really love about the high street is that it’s just independent shops. Even the Spar supports all the local businesses.”
The town has become well known as a centre for education and the arts. Hauser and Wirth is a pioneering, world-class gallery, based at Durslade Farm.