Having dreamed about a career in fashion, Fiona Faherty decided to branch out from her career in HR to open up her own boutique in Moycullen. Fusion Fashion opened last year and Fiona had a quick chat with Her.ie this about the challenges on launching a new business, importance of customer service and why you should always follow your mother’s advice!
Tell us a little about what you do…
How did you get to your current position?
I know it is a cliché but I did always want to have my own business someday. I think coming from a family business it was in the DNA and it certainly instils a good work ethic in you, which you need if you are going to run your own business!
My passion for fashion and flair for business merged and the opportunity arose when a unit I had been eyeing up became vacant. I jumped at the chance to take it, without doing too much thinking about how I would do it! Thankfully, with a lot of late nights, early mornings, really hard work, dedication and a bit of luck, I opened the doors to my very own boutique in June 2013.
What is your typical working day?
We open at 10am everyday so I try to get there for 9.30am to ensure everything is ok and we are ready for our customers at 10am. I am on the shop floor styling my fabulous customers most days, which is definitely my favourite part.
I pride myself and my staff in offering a service and feel good experience to every person that walks in the door. Customer service is number one on our list and helping a customer to choose an outfit for that special occasion has to be done by giving that customer plenty of time and a genuine smile.
I love when we receive new deliveries and look forward to getting the new stock out on the floor once checked, steamed and priced. Of course, there are also the other ‘not so favourite’ days when I have to do my accounts, attend meetings and go off on the buying trips. I am constantly re-organising the boutique and changing up the windows. Merchandising is one of my favourite things to do as I’m driven by attention to detail.
Why did you choose your current career?
Well I definitely have a passion for fashion and also a flair for business so I guess I always dreamed of putting both together at some stage. Being one of four sisters, fashion was something we all played around with when younger, swapping clothes and experimenting with different styles. I absolutely love putting outfits together, right down to the correct pair of earrings to go with the outfit, so working in fashion was always my first love.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your career?
I suppose it’s trying to stay ahead of, or at least in line with, your competition. I think you have to offer something unique to attract customers in the first place and an experience that will make them want to return again. My customers work harder these days than in the past for their salaries so to part with it, they expect value for money and quality in what they are getting. Bearing this in mind, we want to offer all our customers a friendly, caring and honest approach. It’s important that our stock is of excellent quality and worth the money that a customer will pay for it.
What are the most rewarding aspects?
For me, the most rewarding aspect is definitely the total satisfaction I get when a customer has come to me for help on choosing an outfit for a special occasion and they leave with a bigger smile than me. There are some ladies who totally put their trust in you to help them choose the correct and appropriate outfit and I take extreme pride in my role as their personal stylist. I remove my ‘owner’ hat and concentrate on their happiness and satisfaction in their finished look. Seeing the confidence it gives ladies when they are wearing the right outfit for them is just priceless. I would do it for free if someone paid my bills!
Could you ever see your work taking you away from Ireland?
I am certainly open to any opportunity that working in fashion and business may present to me. I would definitely welcome the chance to work in fashion events abroad as event organising is also one of my passions. Marrying fashion and events together would really be heaven for me.
What is the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?
‘Do one thing at a time’. This was given to me by my mother. I am definitely a workaholic but I really enjoy it. I am eager to learn and always thinking about my next project before I have finished the current one but my mother always slows me back down and tells me to ‘do one thing at a time’ and then see what happens.
What has been the one ‘pinch me’ moment of your career so far?
Opening my own boutique. It was a dream for so long so to actually go ahead and do it was just amazing. It is extremely hard work and requires a lot of dedication and time but it is also so rewarding and I really can say with such conviction that I do LOVE it. We have just celebrated over one year in business and we are growing in our customer base every day.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about what you do?
My family and friends think I have a great time, going on buying trips, attending all the social events, playing dress up in fabulous dresses, chatting to customers all day but in reality, that is all work and owning your own business, no matter how big or small, can be very stressful and worrying. I am an absolute perfectionist and this totally stresses me out as I really do put lots of pressure on myself to have everything right. I just couldn’t let anybody out of my boutique with an outfit that didn’t work well for them. I would rather not make any sale than sell an unflattering outfit to my customers. It’s something I would not like to happen to my mother or sisters so I always bear this in mind.
What is the biggest mistake that you think people in your chosen sector make? Bad customer service or rudeness. When a customer chooses to come to your boutique, you have one opportunity to impress and hopefully make a customer for life. Even if that customer doesn’t find something today, if they have a good experience, they will return but they will also spread the word to their family and friends and no money can buy word of mouth recommendations.
Describe what you want to achieve in your career with one sentence.
Have a successful established business that becomes one of Ireland’s top destination boutiques