London, 1921. Julia Longfield lives on the fringes of the East End, in prosperous Victoria Park. With her brother and two younger sisters, she has known a happy childhood, and looks forward to the announcement of her engagement to Chester Morrison, son of a business acquaintance of her father. Any doubts Julia may have are overruled by her family's assurances that this will be an excellent match. But their fortunes are altered forever when Mr Longfield dies, leaving them in poverty.
Jilted by her fiance, it falls to Julia to look after her family. Then she meets Simon Layzell, owner of a shop selling dress fabric. Together they decide to go into business, and a new partnership is formed.