This Week Wendy Celebrates 35 years In Business
It’s hard to believe that Wendy has been beaming her sunny smile into the fashion industry for 35 years. For a start she looks far too youthful, but there is also no sign of burnout, or of just having had enough of the cut and thrust. Fashion is a notoriously unforgiving industry, with many falling by the wayside. Yet Wendy continues to radiate gorgeousness and goodwill. Clearly beneath the unerringly happy façade is a gritty businesswoman, who has the metaphorical balls to back herself, put it all on the line, and keep changing with the times to keep her business relevant and successful.
Wendy took the plunge into fashion in March 1984. With her younger sister Sandy beside her as manager, she set up a boutique in Tauranga – remarkably, in the same location of the Plaza that she still operates from today. Thirty-five years ago Tauranga itself was a very different place. In the 80s there was an older demographic, so a high-end boutique fashion for younger women was a niche market, and in order to be successful Wendy had to establish her own point of difference.
That point of difference is still one that she stands proudly by today; she values the personal relationships that she has with customers, and considers superb customer service pivotal. Her desire to ‘go the extra mile’ ensured that she also captured a market outside of the city, and many of those further flung ladies, as well as locals, are still loyal customers to this day. Of course with globalization and online shopping, her reach in 2019 is far and wide, however the premise on which she started is the same. Her aim is to provide first class fashion, with first class service.
To get an insight into Wendy and her workings, ahead of her 35th celebration week we sat her down for a few questions.
Q: It’s impressive to have thrived in business as long as you have, what do you consider key to your success?
A: I absolutely believe that at the heart of my success are my incredible staff, past and present, our amazing loyal customers and all the talented designers and suppliers I have worked with over the years. Maybe another factor would be my sheer determination to keep finding new and exciting fashion.
Q: What drew you to boutique, top-end fashion?
A: Easy! My love of both fashion and people. My three sisters and I were all influenced by our beautiful grandmother, who was incredibly creative. She taught us how to sew, how to embroider and knit - and she made us exquisite doll clothes, which I cherished.
Q: When you set out, thirty-five years ago, what was the biggest rookie mistake that you made?
A: I can’t actually pin down one big mistake, but this business and industry is constantly changing so I’ve been kept on my toes the whole time. It has been a continual learning experience
Q: As a young female businesswoman, was it hard to secure the luxury brands that you wanted to stock?
A: When I first started I made appointments with all the brands I wanted to stock. I remember being so nervous but I had to portray confidence in order to get the suppliers and designers to back me. Years later many of those same people have become personal friends.
Q: How have you managed to simultaneously cater to the customers who have grown alongside your business, whilst also factoring in a new market?
A: I’ve found that the constant changes in fashion keep customers interested and stimulated. Then you add to this the fact that we are always searching for new and exciting designers and products to bring to our customers. Social media and online shopping has given us an exciting opportunity to bring on board new clients who may otherwise not have had the opportunity to shop with us.
Q: Does the current shift of emphasis to online shopping and social media in fashion gel with the principles you have based your business around?
A: It’s interesting. Even though online shopping and social media has changed business hugely, we remain true to our principles of great personal service, whether it’s in person or online, and beautiful presentation and packaging. Our Facebook and Instagram often feature staff wearing the garments to keep the personal touch.
Q: How do you want women to feel when they shop in your store?
A: I always want women to feel loved, inspired and empowered when they shop in our store. Our customers are the lifeblood of our business.
Q: And finally, what’s the secret to your unwavering passion and enthusiasm for your business?
A: I absolutely love my business; it is part of who I am. I love my customers and the incredible team of women I work with. The constant change in fashion keeps me inspired and I’m exhilarated by the never ending search for ‘what’s next?’
Written By Nicky Adams