Feb 21, 2013 02:25
by Brenda Cunningham
Who would have thought an eight-year-old’s obsession with making clothes from scratch and haranguing her mother at every turn for new outfits, would lead to a dream job running one of Sydney’s sweetest independent boutiques?
But for Tanya Stevanovic every day is a chance to play dress-ups with her loyal customers, look after up-and-coming designers and generally have a ball in her cozy boutique in Newtown in Sydney’s inner-west. “Yes, it all started with my poor mother having to buy me everything. I was obsessed with clothes and still am,” she says.
Tanya takes great delight finding outfits for her clients who range in age from the 25-year-old professional to the classically inclined 60-year-old. “But then again,” she adds “we do have Shirley who is 80 and so stylish.”
The inner-west crowd flock to the store regularly for a dose of designer therapy - a scarf from Jenny Kee, a new dress from oh-so covetable Karen Walker or the latest looks from Lover, Jerome Dreyfuss and Rag and Bone, among others. And while a young bub is keeping her out of the store every day, Tanya can be found making sales in the tucked-away haven just off Newtown’s hip King Street on most weekends. If not there, she will be having dinner with her regular customers or consulting in clients’ homes to rework their wardrobes. “I think it’s the customer service that brings them back, we style them, have a cup of tea, talk about their life, consult to their home, it’s one on one - our customers like that warm atmosphere.”
The store has a makeover twice a year, with visual merchandise sourced mostly by her husband, a furniture collector. Recently, it was out with the vintage bike and in with the Chinese vaulting horses where handbags, shoes and belts feature. “I’m always thinking about what’s next, although Bruce the moose with his lamp necklace has to stay,” she says laughing.
Tanya’s boutique, with its mix of local and international high fashion brands, has changed over the years to cope with the global financial crisis and the very specific requirements of her regular customers. “I do think of them when I am sourcing clothes, their sizes, what will suit them.” Tanya’s store started with vintage clothes, but then she saw a gap and started mentoring young designers. She still fields about 100 requests a week from designers who want to be showcased in her store. “I used to go to all the end-of-year TAFE shows to find the designers … but now I’ve learnt to take them on after four seasons when the production and quality control is better.”
Address: 5A Brown Street, Newtown
Tel: 02 9519 7839
Owner: Tanya Stevanovic