Trending in Orgiva: Meet the inspiring expat who serves up Alpujarra style in a buzzing new fashion boutique

FREYA Ruth Rodgers is an inspiration to businesswomen.

The British businesswoman set up Orgiva’s new fashion boutique, El Armario de Freya, in November 2021 after a two-year battle with breast cancer.

El Armario attracts a diverse clientele ranging from traditional Spanish ladies to northern European residents of Orgiva’s alternative communities – all of whom find a little something to suit their tastes and budget.

The shop has many loyal customers, who visit weekly, if not daily!

The British businesswoman set up Orgiva’s buzzing new fashion boutique in November 2021 after a two-year battle with breast cancer. Photo: Jo Chipchase

Freya moved to the area after stopping off in Marbella after a grueling chemotherapy regimen.

Having previously lived in Lanjaron, where she ran the popular vegetarian café Ambienza ten years ago, she is delighted to return to work in the region.

“Except for running Ambienza, I’ve worked as a buyer and window dresser all my life,” she told Olive Press.

“But, in 2020, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I think the continued stress contributed to my medical issues. I loved my job in Marbella but I had too many responsibilities and hours.

She continues: “The chemotherapy program ran from October 2020 to May 2021 and when I returned to work afterwards, I felt totally exhausted.

“I was living in La Alpujarra and doing radiotherapy in Malaga, which involved driving constantly. I also had to pick up my daughter from school and take care of the animals – it was a vicious circle.

So I decided to open my own boutique, where I could apply my fashion retail experience locally. When I was not at the radiotherapy sessions, I fitted out the new interior of the shop with my girlfriend who supports me and who is very practical.

“We created all the fixtures and fittings ourselves because the builder was bad, believe it or not! I was worn out but wanted to open before Christmas last year.

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“I decided to open my own boutique, where I could apply my fashion retail experience locally.” Photo: Jo Chipchase

And he duly did, kicking off in late November with a big party attended by local dignitaries and part of the alternative community: an interesting mix of people.

Her job now, she explains, is to keep a close eye on the region’s fashion trends.

“The main styles of Alpujarran are soft and natural fabrics combined with flattering and timeless cuts with a bohemian touch,” she says.

“You never know what people might buy. Traditional Spanish ladies may choose a tie-dye jumpsuit, while local community members generally prefer ball gowns.

Has Orgiva evolved over the years in terms of fashion?

“The neighborhood still attracts the same type of people, with the same type of style, but now they are spending more money on fashion and are more aware of their appearance.”

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“You never know what people might buy.” Photo: Freya

To promote her boutique, Freya held a popular fashion show at La Fabrica, Lanjaron in February.

“We paired fashion shows with seasonal dishes to reflect the spring/summer season. All models were from local communities, of Spanish, English and other nationalities, and of varying ages, shapes and sizes.

She is now ready to launch an e-commerce website by the end of the summer.

Follow her on Instagram here.

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