In the second installment of our new series, we take a look at the background story of another Irish business: this time it's the turn of Coze di Roze – a lovely online fashion and accessories store. We talked to owner Soraya Quigley to find out what inspired her to start the business, how it has progressed and her plans for the future.
"The idea for Coze di Roze started in the summer of 2007 when I was working part time in a beautiful shoe shop," explains Soraya. "Beautiful shoes indeed – with beautiful prices too. I felt that the styles and prices were somewhat intimidating for a lot of women. People knew about the shop, but they rarely ventured in to it."
"So I started to research different brands, trying to find styles that would look fantastic, but also be affordable. It was also important to me that they were products that were not run off in their hundreds of thousands in a factory in the Far East. My ethical bar was always dangling in front of me."
Picking The Perfect Products
Soraya says that she was driven to find the right products because she felt that Irish women in their 30s to 50s were not well catered for. "Many shops were carrying styles that were very young, not always good quality and a lot of 'body con' styles, which, even if you have the figure to wear, is not always advisable."
"I have always bought what I liked; what suited me and what I could take out of my wardrobe the following year and still look good in. That’s what I wanted to offer. I love fashion and will dip in and out of the 'current trends', but fashion is for the young while style is forever!"
After finding some brands and a location, Soraya used her SSIA and other savings to open the Coze di Roze boutique in Cabinteely Village, Dublin 18, in February 2008.
"From day one, I worked in the shop myself, always offering a warm welcome and a smile to everyone who came in," says Soraya. "I put prices in the window to encourage customers to come in. Originally, I carried mainly shoes and handbags with a really nice selection of gifts… you know those ones that are perfect for your friend who has everything!"
Building Up Business
Soraya worked hard to build up a database of customers and their contact details and regularly sent out emails or texts to let people know of special offers or new stock. However, the location of the boutique was not ideal and parking was also a problem.
"The 'mummy guilt' issue was always there too," recalls Soraya. "Even though I had waited until my children were teenagers before starting the business, things like the Junior Cert, missing matches, study etc., were causing me to feel that I was letting my children down. I absolutely loved the shop. I loved my customers. Seeing someone leave the shop with a big smile and happy with a purchase is a wonderful feeling as it’s so important to us women to look and feel good."
Press & Publicity
One of Soraya's customers had started a PR company, so she enlisted her help after 18 months. "Suddenly, Coze di Roze started to appear in magazines, newspapers, Ireland AM, Xpose and more. Customers started phoning from around Ireland looking for items: that’s when the idea of a website and an online business started."
"Eventually, I was working in the shop and trying to run an online business at the same time. I had also started a Facebook page for Coze di Roze and this was taking off too. The dirty 'R' word had come to the fore at this stage and rents and rates were becoming an issue."
"I was coming home and working for several hours on the Facebook page, on the website and sorting orders – so something had to give! Also, in January 2011, a family member became seriously ill. Decisions had to be made and Coze di Roze closed its front doors and opened its virtual doors full time. A new website and some new labels were put together and I joined the 'work from home' brigade.
"Running a fashion store on your own is difficult. You do all the buying in your spare time. You work on style. You look after accounts. You work in the shop. You wash the floor. You can’t get sick unless you have reliable backup. I loved every minute, but it was very hard work and lonely at times. I have a wonderful husband who backed me at all times and great friends who were very supportive.
These days, Soraya works from home on the Facebook page and Coze di Roze website. "I am constantly on the look out for new fashion or footwear styles," she says. "I’ve learned that certain things don’t sell as well online as they do in situ. All these things are part of the learning curve and help to keep me on my toes."
Currently, the clothing lines carried on the Coze website are mostly Fair Trade, Organic and Ethically Manufactured. The accessories and jewellery lines are mainly from Irish designers.
"I aim to provide customers with something different, something they'll return to time and time again. However, I don’t think that you should sacrifice quality and ethics or pay exorbitant prices. Supporting small, independent Irish designers and businesses is also a very important part of the Coze di Roze ideal."
International Sales & Success
Soraya explains that her aim is to find items that are somewhat different and special, but also affordable.
"I have just found a new clothing label that is exclusive to Coze di Roze in Ireland and the previews on Facebook have been really positive. That type of result really lifts me and keeps me looking for more."
"I have customers nationwide and in the UK, but it’s great when you get orders from people in Europe and the US and Australia. It’s such a great feeling to know that Coze di Roze style is being worn all over the world."
"So it’s onwards and upwards for Coze di Roze. It’s wonderful to receive emails from customers telling me how everyone admired their shoes, their dress, their handbag – that’s what makes everything worth it. I suppose I like people – maybe that is the key!"
Article written by Linda, Mykidstime Meath
Are you a fan of Coze di Roze or what do you think of their backgound story and their products? Please leave your comments below.