'Build a relationship and trust with the owner': Boutique Awards Judge Emer Melody on shopping local

It's hard to believe that voting for our inaugural Boutique Awards is almost finished (voting closes on midnight, Sunday, July 29th!). The task of compiling a worthy shortlist was no easy feat, but having an arsenal of savvy, in-the-know judges – each of whom is thought-leaders in their own right – made the task easy and enjoyable. Before finalising the list of winners in this year's awards, each judge will be explaining why she shops locally and telling us about her favourite boutique buy.

Now living in Bandon, Co Cork with her husband and two daughters, PR consultant Emer Melody has travelled the world working for luxury brands including Christian Dior and Oscar de la Renta. Since she settled back in Ireland, Emer has worked with several independent boutiques in both Cork and Dublin so she understands perfectly what makes a boutique an extraordinary place to visit.

Photographed by Doreen Kilfeather

"I am an avid boutique shopper. Because of my busy schedule, I don't have too much time to shop, so I like popping into smaller boutiques where I can see the entire collection quickly. This works for me and my style of shopping. I love checking out the boutique owner’s unique edit and, whilst some boutiques carry the same brand, each buy can be so different and styled so differently.

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I love the personal service of shopping in a boutique, connecting with the owner and establishing a relationship of trust. A trusted boutique owner offering honest feedback is invaluable. There is so much time and effort from their part thinking of their customers and ensuring their customers are well catered for; whether it's for a special occasion or a school run!

I have found some really great pieces over the years, most recently a great suede/leather reversible coat from Paperdolls that will come out for years to come! I have a pair of earrings from Loulerie that I absolutely adore. What I love about them is how transitional they are; I can go from day to dinner party and still feel fabulous. I love my white Tara Jamon jacket from Bluefig and, when paired with my staple uniform of jeans, can take me anywhere. I love when I get a call from a boutique owner that something is in that I might like, or a photo appears on my phone. Now that's customer service!"

Click below to get your last few votes in before Sunday.

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