Friday, 17 June 2011

Interview - Cecylia Kee Part 1

The fashion industry is notoriously competitive, not only for designers, but for retailers too. With a lot of boutiques having to close down during the GFC, it has been a challenging time for stores, particularly with the rise in online retailing. One boutique that is going against the trend and is developing an increasingly loyal fanbase is Cecylia Boutique in Armadale.

I was lucky enough to interview the stylish and always lovely co-owner Cecylia Kee to learn more about some of the challenges facing retailers today.

The stylish Cecylia with her adorable "assistant" Theodore
1. You were originally working as a vet. When making your career change, what made you decide to open your own store instead of trying to find a job in fashion working for someone else?
I have worked in fashion retail for 3 leading labels for 2 years, whilst I was studying full-time at Melbourne Uni. I learnt most of my sales and buying knowledge at Miss Sixty, Third Millenium and Hussy. I've always had compliments about my name and its spelling so it's long been in the back of my mind to open my own boutique.

2. How have you found Australian consumers different to those from around the world? (e.g. you said your customers preferred finished hems as opposed to raw hems)
The majority of Australian customers are discerning but also less experimental. They tend to stick with labels they've heard of or read about, rather than to venture out and discover who's new and hip out there. That said, that is a generalisation. Thankfully, I have seen a fashion-forward pack that are willing to give other designers a go and are very capable of looking like the elite fashion leaders, without having to read every fashion magazine religiously. Their style is innate and I applaud these customers.

3. From a retailer’s perspective, how important is social media (e.g. Facebook, blogs, etc) in the world of fashion today? How have you used social media to support your business?
Social media has been our primary means of reaching our customers both in Melbourne, interstate and overseas. Blogs have become the new magazine, they have more of a personal spin, bridging the gap between the fashion dictators and the consumers.

4. With so many stores and online retailers available to consumers, how do you maintain a loyal customer base?
We have a really adorable pooch called Theodore who is a gun assistant. It's difficult for our customers to pat him over the cyberspace. Aside from stocking really unique labels and wearable styles, we offer a very personal service to our VIPs, we prepare desserts and bubbly if we know they are coming to visit. We hold runway parties for our customers, which is a very specialised service that I know not many boutiques across the globe do. Our customers repeatedly tell us that 'they've never experienced such good customers service before'. We really treat our customers, we treat them as friends.

5. From a retailer’s perspective, what are some of the major issues facing the fashion industry today?
Online shopping! It saddens me when some people try something on in the store and then buy the same thing from an online store. This is just not on. If you wish to support an online store, then go for it, but don't do it at the expense of another retailer. I hope we don't have customers like that. I wish someone would make an ad similar to 'the burning of DVDs' about the 'burning of the real retailers.'

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview with the lovely Cecylia! 

Lots of stunning and unique jewellery!

Love the range of Repettos

Check out the incredibly detailed Sophia Kokosalaki
leather skirt! It's like a work of art!
The shop is filled with beautiful little details like
these little hands which have been painted gold and
turned into hooks!
Images by Stylus Muse


  1. I am absolutely in love with her boutique, I want to go there! Unfortunately I am from Europe...

    I always say this (and I really mean it), but I also want to thank you for your lovely comment on my blog, for putting me on your blogroll and for stopping by in general, I really appreciate it!

    I'd love to hear from you again!


    Rock 'n Style

  2. What a beautiful shop! I can't wait to check it out next time in Melbourne:)

  3. That hand is very funny :)



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