By Gail McKay

Portafini Boutique is an independent ladies clothing business based in Eastbourne, selling tops, casual dresses, brilliant magic trousers, scarves as well as knitwear and handbags. Penny Cattermole, the owner handpicks the range, which are mostly fromItaly.

I asked Penny how it started,

‘’As the Covid crisis hit I saw a gap in the market as more and more women’s clothes shops shut up shop. Parking in Eastbourne had become increasingly expensive and I just couldn’t find clothes I liked that fitted well at reasonable prices so I took up the challenge of setting up my own boutique at my home. I found clothes shopping a stressful rather than enjoyable time, I hated being surrounded by lots of other people, queuing to try clothes on or even worse not trying them on and having to take purchases back for a refund!’’

Busy Lives

Her first customers were mainly friends who were feeling the same, looking for clothes that were a reasonable price, comfortable and stylish. ‘

’I have lots of customers who are juggling busy lives and love the time they can spend on themselves at my salon, uninterrupted taking time to find clothes they really love.’’

Penny has built her business steadily through word of mouth.

Penny has lived in Eastbourne for 30 years, and she see’s how difficult it is for women to have a satisfying clothes shopping experience. ‘I wish I had quit my corporate job and started this sooner, because I love it.’’

Although Lockdown has proved challenging, Penny has found video calls have made for very useful and in-depth conversations with clients to find out what they really need.


I asked her how the business is growing? ‘’ I do several events, I’ve done a few country shows and recently done a ladies shopping event at Aqua Club at Pevensey which was wonderful. I’ve hosted Bizzybirds networking meeting too. I offer hosted clothing parties, basically it involves a group of friends getting together over a coffee or a glass of fizz and clothes shopping, what could be better? The host receives a voucher from Portafini so it works very well. I’m always looking to do more events i.e hotels ladies events, so again happy to work with other local businesses as I love networking.’’

How it all works

This unique approach to clothes shopping means that you have an hour slot to come and browse without the interruptions of normal life. You have time to try clothes on and see what looks great on you. There are no other shoppers, you have time to try on clothes, feel the fabrics and not commit to buying until you are happy. You can bring friends along if you like, as it’s nice to get a second opinion.

‘’Most of the ladies I know love a personal touch, on line is great for the masses however I offer a personalised space where there are no other shoppers, no expensive parking charges and reasonable prices. I really get to know what my customers like and therefore become a personal shopper for them. I can source clothes from several suppliers so can offer choice and quality.’’

The quickest and easiest way to make an appointment is to call or message Penny on 07766368025 or alternatively email

You can see new clothing on Face book every week, Portafini Boutique,