FREYA Ruth Rodgers is an inspiration to women in business. 

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

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

The shop has many repeat customers, who visit weekly or even daily!

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

Freya moved to the area after she came to a standstill in Marbella, following an exhausting chemotherapy programme.

Having previously lived in Lanjaron, where she ran the popular Ambienza vegetarian café a decade ago, she is delighted to be back working in the area.

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

“But, in 2020, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and believe that ongoing stress contributed to my medical problems. I loved my work in Marbella but had too many responsibilities and hours.”

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

“I was living in La Alpujarra and doing radiotherapy in Malaga, which involved constant driving. I also had to collect my daughter from school and deal with the animals – it was a vicious cycle.

So I decided to open my own shop, where I could apply my fashion retail experience locally. When I wasn’t at radiotherapy sessions, I was setting up the new shop interior with my supportive girlfriend, who is very practical. 

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

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

And it duly did, launching in late November with a big party attended by local dignitaries and some of the alternative community: an interesting mixture of people.

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

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

“You never know what people might buy. Traditional, Spanish ladies might choose a tie dye jumpsuit, while members of the local communities usually favour the ball gowns.” 

Has Orgiva progressed over the years in fashion terms? 

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

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

To promote her shop, Freya held a well-received fashion show at La Fabrica, in Lanjaron, in February. 

“We teamed the catwalk shows with seasonal food to reflect the spring/summer season. All models were from the local communities, of Spanish, English and other nationalities, and of various ages, shapes, and sizes.”

She is now set to launch an ecommerce website by the end of summer. 

Follow her on Instagram here.

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