We are very excited to announce the first blog from one of our lovely clients Jenny Doyle! She and her business partner Tara decided to set up the stunning boutique, Si Jolie! This is their journey so far, and what an exciting journey it has been…
Now we will leave you with Jenny who talks about her experience so far, the development of Si Jolie’s brand, their client list and some very creative window displays!
“I think it must be many girls’ dream to own a boutique, well it was definitely up there for me! So when the opportunity came about the end of October, I jumped at the chance.
I was in the middle of finishing up on early maternity leave as a Display Assistant at Harvey Nichols in Birmingham. My husband plays football in England and at the time he was with a London club. I was finding the commute from Birmingham to London increasingly difficult with a toddler, as well as being pregnant! It’s always important that my job is flexible and thankfully Harvey Nichols were very generous to offer me the early maternity leave.
My sister in-law Tara called me in October to see if I would be interested in going into partnership with her to take over a previously existing boutique in a town called Wexford in South East Ireland. It has always been on the cards that my family and I would move back to Ireland when my husband retires from football. So to have a business like this for me to return to would be fantastic. Tara and I have a lot in common in terms of fashion and I used to love her labels when she owned a super boutique called Jolie!
We had a short time to decide if we were going to take over as the lease was up and we needed to move fast. Luckily Tara worked in the boutique that was closing down and she had been on all the previous buying trips with the owner and already knew all our suppliers so we knew the handover would be a smooth one. It was really a no brainer for us to take it over, as it was a pretty successful business already. If we were to wait until I moved back to Ireland in a couple of years, to start up a business we would have a much higher start up cost and other issues like trying to find a shop unit. Etc.
At the moment while I live in England Tara is front of house and I am more behind the scenes. I mainly do the social media, branding and the window display. Both of us will go on the buying trips. I really couldn’t have hoped for a better partner to work with. She is my partner in crime. She knows the business inside out already, as I’m still only a novice. In my eyes I feel like I’m learning from the best!
So within a week of deciding to go with the takeover our first day of trading was the 25th of October 2014. Since then Tara and I have been on the phone to each other 24/7 between school runs and crazy toddlers sleeping schedules, to go through the different day to day running of the shop.
Our first business decision was to come up with a name. This is such an important part as it could make or break a business. Both of us agreed it would be worthwhile to bring Jolie brand name back somehow with a little twist. Tara’s previous shop “Jolie Boutique” was a fantastic business and women in Wexford have fond memories of what it was like. We wanted to build on the Jolie brand (also luckily for us, Tara had about a years supply of her cerise pink branded bags). After much deliberation we finally decided on “Si Jolie” which means “So Pretty”. It’s short, simple and to the point.
Once I finished up on maternity leave from Harvey Nichols I went home to Ireland to get involved and help Tara with the setup of Si Jolie. We packed so much into those couple of weeks when I was back home. We had a slot in a Fashion Show, had our Launch Night, we got our shop front painted (in between some torrential downpours, bless our painter), got our shop front sign made and put up, got labels printed for the new Si Jolie branded cerise pink bags, created our first Si Jolie Christmas Window. We even fit in a little buying trip for one of our bread and butter labels Silvian Heach’s Autumn Winter 2015 collection in Fashion City, Dublin. To be honest those weeks were pretty much a blur.
Since our first trading day in October we have installed two windows schemes. As my experience is in working with Window Display both Tara and myself agreed that Si Jolie should focus on our windows. We both feel that is such an important part of the business and shouldn’t be over looked. It creates a talking point and gets people to stop and view the window and hopefully see something they like! Tara created our first window, which set the standard of what was to follow. Wexford is famous for the Opera Festival, which is the end of October so we wanted to coincide with that weekend and start with a bang. She borrowed a shopping trolley from a local supermarket and filled it will lots of pumpkins while one of our mannequins was pushing the trolley. It was so striking and definitely got people talking.
The second window display was our Christmas window, which I was able to do in November when I was home. It was called “Up Up and Away”. We got some extra large Christmas baubles (250mm diameter) and hung they upside down in clusters with ribbon hanging out of them to make them look like helium balloons. We hung some clutch bags out of the ribbons to give the effect that they were floating away. It was such a great feeling to be able to create a window display for our own shop. I had often imagined that day!
Our Launch Night was our chance to touch base with our new customers and even get back in touch with some of Jolie Boutique’s loyal customers. It was a great success we couldn’t have hoped for a better start. We had drinks with nibbles and a Benefit Makeup counter with a makeup artist carrying out mini makeovers on our customers. There were so many women lined up waiting to try on clothes. It was so funny, women were afraid to leave their clothes down anywhere for fear that someone else would take them! They guarded their clothes with their lives! We even had women up stairs changing upstairs in our stock room, toilets and kitchen. It was such a buzz and a great memory that I wont forget.
From there we started to get our Facebook, Instagram and twitter page up and running. When I got back to England Tara was able to put some looks together and send me pictures and I would upload them. We started to get some great feed back from everyone. Tara even had to open up on a Sunday for a customer who spotted a Forever Unique dress on Instagram and could only get to Wexford on a Sunday!
Once the crazy Christmas Season and January Sales were over we needed to concentrate on some home improvements. As the end of January is always a notoriously quiet month we decided to shut the shop for a week and a half to paint the interior of the shop and get a new shop front window created with a new stage and bright spot lights installed.
January can even be quite an exciting month for us as owners, especially this year as it’s our first season buying together as Si Jolie. We think it’s pretty important to add some new labels each season to keep things fresh and up to date with current trends. We are constantly keeping our eyes peeled for something new.
This weekend Tara and myself are meeting up in Paris for our first major buying trip for Autumn Winter 2015. As I have 4 weeks to my due date I can’t fly and have to get the Eurostar to Paris. There, we will be buying the majority of our labels, Forever Unique, Brigitte Bardot, Ella Luna, Derhy and Art Wear Dimitriadis our jewellery label.
It should be a fun trip, have a look at our Instagram and Facebook page to see some pictures of how we got on!”
The next blog from Jenny and the Si Jolie team will be about their Autumn Winter 2015 buying trip in Paris!
A big thanks to Si Jolie, we can’t wait for the next one.