Lynne Vinsen is considered by many to be Whanganui's style guru after 45 years in the fashion retail industry.

This month Vinsen will share her style insights to help Women's Refuge Whanganui in its Charity Chest pop-up shop fundraising venture. Charity Chest sells donated pre-loved and new clothing and accessories, some from leading designers.

Vinsen will open the pop-up shop at an event on Friday, September 21, and at 1pm on Saturday, September 29, will present a Style 101 session with Carla Jayne Smith, organiser of the pop-up shop.

Style 101 will look at the basics of co-ordinating a wardrobe, working with body shapes and colour.


"It's for anyone who wants to come to talk to me," Vinsen said.

"I've had 45 years in retail and I would love to be able to help people."

Vinsen and husband Rob started their business in New Plymouth and moved to Whanganui after about six months, intending to stay for a few months then move back to New Plymouth.

"But we fell into the community in Whanganui and really enjoyed it," Vinsen said.

"We've also had stores in Palmerston North, Taupo and Napier, and Rob has been in menswear retail. In Whanganui we had Feathers, Portfolio, Just Jeans before 'Just Jeans' came here and Dinkum Fair which was in the foyer of the old Majestic Theatre building."

Lynne Vinsen will share styling advice at a Style 101 session on Saturday, September 29.
Lynne Vinsen will share styling advice at a Style 101 session on Saturday, September 29.

More recently the Vinsens owned the Just Looking chain, selling the Whanganui store to staff member Deb Guthrie in 2016.

"I see people around town who have shopped with us for years and years and years," Vinsen said.

"I know little snippets about them and can have a chat because I know a bit about them. There are layers and layers of history there and I take great pride in that."


Vinsen credits being part of a buying group, which viewed styling overseas and brought it back to New Zealand manufacturers, for development of her business.

"It helped me immensely in my business. It gave me a huge amount of confidence. It was a growth time for our business and for me too.

"It's a passion. Rob and I have had the most amazing life in the fashion industry and also living in Whanganui. We have loved being in business in Whanganui. We know people, we feel warm here. It's an amazing community.

"My staff have been absolutely and utterly amazing. We have had some very special women work for us.

"Fashion is about change - that's my mantra - so we decided to put our business on the market. I have great pride that a woman involved in Just Looking, who worked for me for many years, now owns it.

"I've reinvented myself and now I'm a celebrant. I think it's great that I've been able to do that."

Vinsen said she was impressed by the work and dedication that went on behind the scenes in Women's Refuge and was pleased to be able to contribute.

Refuge fundraising committee chairwoman Sharon Warburton said the committee was delighted to have support from Vinsen, business owners and those who had donated items for the store.

"Our customers come from every level, every walk in this community," Warburton said.

"The pop-up shop is good because everyone in the community can hold hands with Women's Refuge. It's a fashion store but it's also a place where women can feel comfortable and have camaraderie."

The Charity Chest pop-up shop will be open for three weeks from Saturday, September 22, at 52 Victoria Ave.