Stepping inside the new-look Orange Sherbet fashion boutique at Redcliffe, you can’t help but say, ‘wow, this is beautiful’ and that’s exactly what founder Katie Naprasnik intended when she and her team decided to embark on a massive revamp and expansion.
It’s taken months of planning and about seven weeks to complete, but the stunning revamp and expansion is open and already impressing customers – old and new.
The store is now an enormous 500sqm – almost double its previous size – and has a massive changeroom section out of view of the shopfloor.
There are 15 cubicles and a luxurious open space in the middle to ponder your options and seek assistance from one of the ‘Changeroom Queens’ offering free styling advice.
Katie says the changeroom everyone’s talking about is part of a broader focus on making shopping at Orange Sherbet a special experience for customers.
She’s learnt a lot since first opening the boutique 16 years ago, as a 17-year-old who worked two part-time jobs to save the money she needed to realise her dream.
The original shop was in Comino’s Arcade and was smaller than the new changeroom area at her present location.
She was there for a couple of years before moving to Bluewater Square shopping centre for eight years and returning to Redcliffe Pde in 2017.
A decision to move the office and warehouse/dispatch side of the business from the back of the Redcliffe store to North Lakes created an opportunity to expand the shop footprint.
So, with online sales booming, why has Katie invested so much in her ‘bricks and mortar’ store?
“We thought, let’s just give our customers a beautiful experience. The shop was busy and we were doing well … we wanted a beautiful place for staff to work and a beautiful place for our customers,” she explains.
“We’re not just a little shop in Redcliffe, we can go head-to-head with the big guys these days.”
Katie’s vision for Orange Sherbet has evolved, as she has, during the past 16 years and adapted to the changing fashion retail market.
As she looks around the new store, she says she’s really happy with the how it’s turned out.
“When I first opened, this wasn’t even a thought. I just wanted somewhere for my friends to be able to shop,” she says.
|“Thanks to this wonderful community that has supported me all these years, we just keep growing. That’s why we want to be in Redcliffe. We want to be here … our view’s pretty good.”|
The fit-out has a welcoming luxe, beach vibe and is relaxed and upmarket at the same time.
Katie says this reflects the fact that they are still selling affordable clothes but want to make customers feel special.
The team provides next-level customer service and clothing purchases are even wrapped in tissue paper.
“We want every part of the experience to be beautiful,” she says.
The Orange Sherbet team hosted a VIP evening for customers and supporters last Thursday night, following a reveal and trial with family and friends the two days prior.
“The response has been nothing but positive. The ladies are just loving the experience and our extended size range,” Katie says.
“The women feel comfortable coming into the store and know they will be able to buy something in their size.”
The boutique stocks sizes 6-24. Previously garments were only available up to size 20.
Orange Sherbet label clothing has been developed to embrace fashion trends but also customer feedback. Some garments are even named after customers and staff, including the Wendy and Marilyn.
Customers are no longer just Redcliffe locals with buyers now across Australia and overseas.
“Women from all over Australia travel here to make a weekend of it. We’re definitely a drawcard,”
Katie’s business has gone from having one staff member to now employing a total team of 46, split between the shop and head office/warehouse and dispatch facility at North Lakes.
She says she has learnt “everything” along the way and still enjoys talking to customers. Social media and online shopping have transformed her business, but the team has adapted and changed.
|“We’ve evolved. Orange Sherbet is not even close to what it was when we opened. I was selling what a 17-year-old would wear,” Katie explains.|
“(I’ve realised) I can’t know everything. I need to have a team of the right people around me.
“We still have that small family business feel but have to run the business differently that when I first opened.”
Katie says the business will continue to evolve and respond to what customers need in store but also online.
She is planning events in store and is in the process of developing Orange Sherbet label exclusive prints, in collaboration with a design studio. The first one is in store now.
As for the Redcliffe waterfront location … Katie says there are no plans to move.
“For me, it’s home. I’m the third generation to live and grow up in Redcliffe. The first shop was down here and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. There’s a great vibe on the weekends. We’re very lucky to have this position.”
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