A 17-year-old BCoT student says that she’s “dreaming big” as she opens her own shop in Andover.

Entrepreneur Carla Dickinson is the owner of CML Boutique, an online fashion business selling everything from clothes to nails to customised portraits.

Now, after finding a suitable retail space with the help of a family friend, she’s looking forward to opening her first physical shop next week at Dobbie’s Garden Centre.

“I’ve always wanted to own my own shop,” said Carla, “so it’s nice to finally be able to say that!”

Carla says that she’s always liked fashion, but the idea of having her own business was inspired by her college course at BCoT. “They let you do what you want and develop what you want to do,” she said. “They made me feel more creative, and confident, for when I opened the business.”

At first, Carla began by marketing online. “I started online because it’s a lot more popular, and easier to get started,” she said. “My Instagram following grew really quickly, and I’ve now reached 8,000 followers.” When her followers started asking if she had a store, she decided, despite the pandemic, that now was the time to strike.

“Lockdown has been hard,” she said, “but it’s also easier for me to learn how to run a business if things are difficult for everyone, and moving more slowly.” She added that lockdown has been good for market research, allowing her “to find out the things people want but can’t have.”

One of these things were press-on nails, which she found as a gap in the market during lockdown. As a result, here new shop will have its own nail bar, as well as offering makeovers, fashion, home made bath bombs and “unique” self-portraits.

“I want it to be a place ladies can get a full makeover,” she says, “where they can come in a group so one can get their nails done, another can buy bath bombs, and another can buy clothes,” combining them all under one roof.

To test out exactly how this will work, she has organised a soft opening for her shop over the coming weekend (September 12/13), where everything except gel nails will be available. She’s inviting family, friends, and anyone visiting the garden centre to come in and test out her shop before the grand opening on September 16.

Carla’s hoping for big things for her new store, saying that in the future, “the dream would be to have lots of stores across the UK.”

CML Boutique is situated between Andover Garden Machinery and Dobbies Garden Centre, and will be open from Wednesday-Sunday from 9:30am to 5pm, after hours by appointment.