Every month, we will be featuring a Fabulous Female whose business savvy and confidence inspires us. We believe in supporting fellow female entrepreneurs and their incredible business ventures. If you know of a Fabulous Female whose story deserves to be told, please email us to nominate them.
This month, we interviewed the lovely Angela Bricker, owner of Kelowna's Georgie Girl Vintage. We have been fortunate enough to work with Angela during our photo shoot this past September and it was an absolute pleasure.
Tell us a little about yourself and Georgie Girl
Hi there! I am a Kelowna girl, having lived here for 40 of my years on this planet. I graduated from Kelowna Secondary. I moved to the Big City of Vancouver for 11 years before returning in 1991. Starting a family in Kelowna changed a few dynamics for me, now a mom anda homeowner, I needed to find a way to make a living in the Okanagan. I had always been a self-starter and the urge to create my own viable business was like breathing, it just had to be, there was no other way for me. I have always been fascinated by style and fashion, but at this time, with young children, I saw the opportunity in the marketplace in 1995 was children’s products, both new and used. Vancouver had it’s share of children’s shops that I had frequented, but Kelowna was wide open and ready to embrace this concept. I am also very choosy about presentation, cleanliness and customer service: many “used” stores in these times were very little different from thrift shops, and I thought that this was missing the mark. I predicted that shopping for “second hand” goods was bound to be a direct alternative to “brand new”, and in accordance I made our store sparkle and the customer service to high standards. I knew very little about retail operations or running a business, and I needed to learn it all as I went along. Much trial, plenty of error...and loads of learning! The shop I named Yellow Brick Road, and it was a huge success in spite of my lack of experience. The concept was greeted with enthusiasm, and I added many brand new products over the next 15 years, separated the new and used to 2 shops after moving to a larger premise close to Orchard Park. After 10 years in that location, I decided to make a move to Downtown Kelowna in our current location on Ellis Street. I was welcoming change, but the path proved a difficult one.
After so many years in baby and child retail, and declining sales due to several factors, I was forced into a position of rethinking my direction. This was very tough! Once established in one arena, it is a challenge reinvent your career! I struggled with ideas and concepts daily, while still in operations as a baby shop. The idea for Georgie Girl started very organically, as my customers indicated their enthusiasm for shopping in a vintage store and I realized the dream could be real.
How did you know that opening a vintage clothing boutique was the right career move for you?
It happened so naturally! Vintage clothing and fashion has always been a “passion” for me, one that I self-
judged was a bad habit or perhaps...frivolous. I had added a small vintage clothing section to the store - as an “eco-friendly” option for my customers - and that was what sparked the interest of my passers-by. I began to learn about vintage and actively seek vintage apparel...and the pathway became clear. It all happened very quickly once my mind was made up: we had a website, social media, and new signage in less than a month! Sales doubled as soon as the signs were up...and we were in the vintage clothing business. Wow!
In the 3.5 years since Georgie Girl launched, I have educated myself regarding the women’s fashion industry, and continue to do so each and every day. I am a research fanatic, and like to keep on top of what is happening in the fashion industry from all aspects: culturally, regionally, globally trending, innovations, sourcing. Georgie Girl Vintage has morphed into an entity I could never have predicted. I learned that style and fashion - although influenced by eras - is a fluid, uber-creative force that we as humans embrace for as many reasons as there are people.
What was the scariest part of opening Georgie Girl? How did you deal with that fear?
The scariest part of presenting any business to the public is that the idea will be a failure. I am very
committed to building a business that inspires my customers, contributes to the community and employs people. To do that, the company must be successful and well received. Making this happen is a mixed bag of values, vision, conversations with clients, research and a huge dose of hope and hard work. How do I deal with it? A beverage consisting of fine okanagan grapes served in a goblet with a stem...and running. Endorphins rule.
As a female entrepreneur, how do you define “success”?
Great question! Being able to support your family and pay all the bills on time is a barometer, however boring, of success for all genders. Just the basics. Beyond that, it is being able to spark change or contribute beyond making a living - to participate in the enrichment of the community and the world. Being able to do this is a hallmark of success. “ To have the ability to meet the financial obligations of the business, while contributing to the wellness of those around you and involved with your business, and to do this in good health and happy heart.”
Have you experienced any prejudice against you for being a female business owner?
No, not at all!
What is the best business advice you have received? Why did it resonate with you?
The best business advice I have ever received is to keep going in the face of all evidence that you are failing: take each day as it comes, do what you have to and watch your numbers without allowing them to kill you, allow the numbers to guide you to take the next step. Look for the positive and keep going: you will see light at the end of the tunnel, then inch in that direction - you will get there! It saved my business to take this approach, and it guides me to some extent on a daily basis now that the light is much brighter. It resonated with me because it is practical and doable, not a fanciful “feel good” quote without a practical tool kit.
What advice do you have for a woman wanting to start her own business?
Do your homework with regards to numbers: cash flow, margins and use a spreadsheet. Over estimate your expenses to create a buffer zone. Learn social marketing or hire someone to help you. Keep your eyes wide open and listen to your customers or clients religiously. Honor your employees. Remember that a business is built one client at a time. Take at least one day off a week for you and get some air!
Explain your sense of style. Where did it come from?
Not sure! I loved fashion magazines even as a child and was always designing clothing in my head. My
favourite childhood pastime, other than reading, was to make my own paper dolls and design clothing for them. I could do this for hours. When I left school, I got a job as a cocktail waitress which suited me at the time as I could dress up every day and being a cocktail waitress is kind of like running your own little mini show - especially so in the crazy 80’s! I spent much of my booty on clothing in Vancouver in the 80’s at vintage shops - I never shop with friends, always alone - I need my mind clear to concentrate on fabrics, textures, colours and what is hiding between the lines. I can shop for clothing anywhere, but my favorite has ever been thrift and vintage for it’s diversity. I continue to follow the fashion industry from all angles now: runway to thrift, street to high fashion and marketplace trends.
In your eyes, is there a difference between fashion and style? If so, what?
Yes, indeed. Fashion to me is the apparel itself - the actual garments - whereas style is how it is presented with attitude. To say something is “fashionable” is to say it is “on trend”, but to say something is “stylish” encompasses more than the clothing you choose: it is how you accessorize it and your attitude around it. Select fashions your love to create your style!
What would you tell someone who hasn’t found their sense of style?
I would encourage that person to look beyond current fashion trends, and explore style from the past 100 years in order to get a sense of modern fashion history. Looking at lifestyle is critical as there is no point choosing to dress in a way that is impractical. Body type is a deciding factor when creating a sense of style. To appear stylish a person must be at ease and confident that the garments are flattering to the body and movement is fluid. Lastly, be daring! Many people are timid to embrace a look because they think it is different and they will stand out. If you love it, go for it!
Any closing remarks? How would you like readers to connect with you?
Thanks for this opportunity to chat, Carolilly Finery! Wishing you all the best with your gorgeous vintage inspired jewellery line! Readers can find us in Kelowna at 1331 Ellis Street in the Cultural District and online at www.georgiegirl.ca. We are on Instagram as Georgie Girl Vintage and on Facebook.
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