FH: Stories | Foras

Tucked in the winding streets of Folkestone town centre is a new store that’s a sensory treat for everyone who walks through its doors.

Foras is first and foremost a fragrance store selling its own range of handmade perfumes and soaps. Customers can also pick up books and lifestyle items – homewares, stationery and skincare – that owner Alexander Verier has personally selected, inspired by the outdoors, outdoor living and nature.

Foras opened in September 2021 in Church Street, in the heart of the Creative Quarter. Alexander has worked in the fragrance industry for 10 years and co-owns Kent-based skincare company Pelegrims – Foras was a natural next step for him and was prompted by the pandemic and a recent move to the area.

He said, “I think the pandemic meant that we have all had a chance to reassess everything and for a lot of people that has manifested as opening their own business or doing something new and creative.

“There are so many interesting little shops and people doing creative things here in Folkestone, I still haven’t had a chance to see them all!

“The shop for me is also about getting people back out into the high street and physical shops. In Folkestone a lot of what you will find here is about experiences that people can’t get online, and reasons for them to come out into the towns. It’s about creating a small-town magic, going on a tour around – you go inside and go ‘wow that’s interesting’ and you see things you haven’t seen before and meet new people.”

Describing the shopping experience in Foras, Alexander says, “Obviously the smell as you enter the store is the first impression! We have tried to create a special experience and make it as friendly as possible. I always encourage everyone to come and try on a perfume if even they don’t buy, they might return later. We want them to relax and reconnect with nature and their own wellbeing and to have a nice time here.”

Helping customers to relax also means prioritising safety and hygiene; Foras even makes and stocks its own all-natural hand sanitiser, which everyone is encouraged to use when they come into the store.

For Alexander, Folkestone is more than just the location for his business, it’s a great place to live, work and visit. He says, “We only recently moved to the area, we were in Broadstairs before but we fancied a change and love the area. My girlfriend Edie owns a cafe in Hythe that recently opened called Root. We love it here!

“To live in, it’s one the friendliest places I’ve ever been and there’s so much creativity around but also a good mix of independent shops and restaurants and the bigger chain stores. For visitors, Folkestone offers a bit of everything – the whole harbour area and old town (as well as our store of course) but also the natural park area at the bottom of the Leas is so beautiful.”

Supporting the high street and keeping money in the local area is important to Alexander, who currently employs one staff member and hopes to provide more job opportunities as the business grows.

“The shop has a great space at the back and once the shop is established, we’ll make everything on site – this will allow us to offer workshops and bespoke experiences and employ another person.

“We’ve got lots coming up – we have a Christmas candle in the works and have just launched a natural washing up liquid that’s only available in store. Towards Christmas we’ll be opening a few late-night shopping dates and will be offering a gift-wrapping service as well as a few other extra things! We want the shop to always be magical and exciting as that’s the real difference between shopping online and in person I think – it’s all about a great experience.”

“We want the shop to always be magical and exciting as that’s the real difference between shopping online and in person I think – it’s all about a great experience.”

This case study has been created with support of the Welcome Back Fund, a fund that is providing councils across England with a share of £56m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which supports the safe return to high streets and help build back better from the pandemic.

Live

Urban vibe, coastal cool, rural retreat. Live the lifestyle you’ve always wanted.

Work

The ultimate flexible workplace? London in under an hour. Work from home. Or choose both.

Invest

A highly accessible location with a focus on growth and investment. Play a part in our future.

Visit

Prepare to be surprised by our arts festivals, safaris, historic adventures and beaches. All are welcome.