Day in the Life of.. a Fashion Retailer

Are you a lover of fashion? Ever wanted to run your own clothing line or fashion store? For our final Day in the Life interview series, we have moved away from the corporate sectors to look at a typical day in the life of a fashion retailer. Brisbane business owner, Eleni Zaphir, sells on trend affordable fashion for women through her retail store and online fashion boutique called V I G A R I . Here is her story:

1. What time do you wake up?

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I wake up at 5am most days. Yes, it’s a ridiculous time I know. Weekends…… maybe 5:30­ or 6am, I struggle to sleep in.

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

Waking up so early allows me to have “me time”. This means while everyone is still asleep for an hour and a half longer, I can get to the gym while it’s still quiet. I’ll train twice a week with my personal trainer and now it’s 2015, I’ve decided to try boxing and bikrim yoga other mornings.

3. Breakfast?

Breakfast on the go is such a great convenience for the kids and I. We have invested in an amazing juicer. Our popular morning kick-start juice is spinach (lots of) with pear, banana, and some oats. Some mornings I may also make poached eggs (sounds all fancy but so easy to make!) with sourdough toast and spinach and salmon or ham. But I did say ‘some days’, meaning once a weekday.

4. How do you get to work and how long does it take?

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We generally leave home by 8am. We live close to my son’s school and my daughters Dental clinic where she works. It’s only 2 minute drive from my store, V I G A R I, so it pretty much just takes us 15 minutes to do our morning drop off.

5. Lunch?

I will generally pack healthy chicken wraps for our lunches, nuts or a banana to snack on, or hard boiled eggs as it’s rare I get a moment to stop and eat at work as it’s always go, go, go. I also have the convenience of an amazing cafe next to my shop, so most days the staff just pop their heads in and ask what I’d like for lunch while I manage the shop.

6. What are the typical things you do every day?

Each day is hectic, there is never a dull moment. As I direct all and every aspect involved in my business it’s important my team and I work really well. Monday mornings are photo shoots. Soon after I’m back at the shop where I will prep the week ahead. I’ll schedule my “showings” which involve viewing new ranges for the seasons ahead (there is so much to see). I also meet with my social media guru and plan our posts for the week(s) ahead and any special or big events coming up.

By Tuesday, all edited work comes from my photographer and is uploaded to the website. I also write fashion blogs for a couple of magazines plus there’s all the other exciting things one does every week running her own business like paper work (boring!).

But my most favourite part of each day is seeing new faces and greeting my long term loyal amazing customers who I truly do this for. Everyday I have a few regulars I see and we catch up over a tea have a little chit chat as we ladies do, I’ll show them the latest styles and they’ll be off with their new pieces.

7. What do you love most about your job?

I generally enjoy everything I do in my business. It’s become a lifestyle for me. But seeing a regular customer each day is amazing, they truly have become dear friends and keep me in business.

8. How do manage all the tasks you need to do?

I schedule my daily tasks, you have to. I use to suffer from anxiety quite bad, and it wasn’t until I researched further more into it, I become aware that, yes, I have a lot on my plate but I wasn’t giving everything 100%. I use to do half arsed jobs, and think I was doing so much, but I wasn’t completing work as I should of. I realised that it was ok to start one job, complete it 100%, be content and then continue onto another.

So I now “schedule” everything that needs to be addressed, I give it a time limit that I can work on it should I wish to apply more things that day.

9. When is hometime?

Home time is roughly 6pm. The kids are home before I am and we have a roster in place for weekdays of who is cooking on what day. We have nominated “Fat Fridays”. We go out or take in on junk food. C’mon who doesn’t love a burger and fries and wash it down with a soft drink? We when follow it with ice cream. Gotta love Fat Fridays!

10. How do you relax when you do get home?

Once I am home, I obviously greet the kids, I’ll shower and chill with them, which is cool. We chat about their day and school. We never have the idiot box (TV) on. Family time is our time to talk about anything, oh and we always have music on, so whomever is cooking, it’s their night of tunes.

11. How do you manage the balance between work and personal life?

It’s important to balance both work and personal life. I have so many amazing people surrounding me and I adore them all. So catching up with friends for a cheeky wine or few is necessary.

12. How has the business changed from when you first began?

I have gained so much more knowledge and confidence running my business over the years. So much has changed in retail but i am always up for the challenge.

13. Who and/or what inspires you?

My inspirations are my kids, cliché as it may sound, but being a young mother I was determined to conquer the best in order to provide for my kids. It was a hard slog, but it was all worth it.

14. Why do you do what you do?

I own a fashion boutique because I love fashion; I love educating woman on how to dress to their personality and shape. It’s rare to find exceptional customer service, especially these days, and we deliver every time. Women come back for the whole experience. And I love that.

15. Tips for other business owners?

Ladies and gentlemen, it is so vital to have systems in place within your business. And schedule your daily tasks – yes I use this word often, but its so easy to get caught up with the day to day tasks that involve running a business and not completing them properly.

So always schedule, and always have staff meetings. Everyone needs to be on the same page. Be sure all staff add value to your brand and business also.

16. How do you define success?

Where I am today, after running a business for 8 years as I have. Success to me is not just getting through a retail economic downturn but conquering more. I have provided a lifestyle that I only wished of 19yrs ago when I had my daughter as a teenager. I have gained a sincere support from my customers, that as mentioned, who most have now become long term friends. And the kids and I have an amazing friendship and life. This is success to me.

17. What challenges have you faced as a business owner and how do you overcome them?

Retail is up and down sometimes. One of the hardship moments was the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), that was scary. But what I learnt was to have 2 ears and 1 mouth – that is, listen to your consumers, they are your free access to what is going on out there in ‘retail land’. At one point my store V I G A R I only had high end designer brands in store. However, soon after the GFC, I realised that no one was spending, not on the higher price pointed garments anyhow. I lost a lot of coin, but quickly discovered brands with quality and design that women wanted. I learnt to run my business as a directer and remove my emotional attachments I had with it. And it works.

Do you run your own retail business? How did you get through the GFC? Tell us in the comments below!