Melissa Ayoubi & Eliana Esposito are the style queens who created Melbourne’s hip Boutique in Elwood village – Mad About the Girl
We spent the evening with Mel and Eli and heard about their business journey, and with the help of their local community and our Herdrum tribe, raised funds for women’s charity ‘Fitted for work’.
With wonderful unfettered honesty Mel and Eli told us how it is – Mel has shared the story with us here –
Tell us about the beginnings of your business and your journey together?
Mad About the Girl is the brainchild of myself and my business partner Eli. We are a women’s fashion boutique in bayside Melbourne that houses a curated edit of both Australian and International designers. We pride ourselves on styling with a point of difference and providing our clients with access to fashion forward collections of the highest quality. Mad About the Girl began as an online boutique but after 12 months of trading we identified that a bricks and mortar location would be a wise decision. Online trading in fashion is an extremely difficult marketplace for fashion and didn’t adequately convey exactly what we do. Eli’s lifetime of retail fashion experience paired with my background in editing and magazines enabled us to both contribute to creating the uniqueness of Mad About the Girl today. It is our experience that doing things differently and establishing clear direction for branding is imperative. Staying true to your vision is also paramount.
Starting and being in business is a life choice that requires hard work, humility, devotion and an incredibly thick skin. It is a rollercoaster ride but the reward for each individual success on a daily basis has made the journey incredibly fulfilling.
How Did the Idea For the business name come about?
Being perfectly honest the name came about over a couple of glasses of wine. In trying to come up with an appropriate name we knew that we wanted to choose something that embodied our vision for the branding of our concept – it had to be feminine, strong but fun.
What motivates you?
We are most driven by customer satisfaction. Happy clients are our greatest source of motivation. Not only are they customers in our store but most have become friends. There is personal satisfaction in being able to offer superior customer service and a quality product with a relevant point of difference. We are always moving forward trying to better everything that we do. Success and personal gratification are great motivators as is meeting our financial commitments. Bettering our personal best each and every day is the common goal.
What do you love most about your business?
Aside from being surrounded by fashion each and everyday, what we love most about our business is the relaxed but professional environment instore. We have met and continue to meet the most amazing women.
In one word, characterize your life as a startup/business owner?
Who has been your greatest inspiration? Why?
We have both been our greatest source of inspiration. To run a successful business, you need to identify your personal goals and work hard to achieve them on a daily basis. We have never tried to replicate anything that our competitors are implementing but have alternatively identified what they aren’t doing and have tried to better our business model.
Where do you get your creative energy from?
Our creative energy comes from being exposed to fashion collections that we both love and appreciate for their forward direction and quality. We surround ourselves with designers and agents that delight and inspire us with new and exciting products.
How is running a successful business different to what you may have thought it would be?
Running a successful business is a 24/7 proposition. The level of work and commitment can’t be put into words. Even after the lights are off and the doors are closed work continues. Social media is a full-time job, as are loose ends that have to be addressed consistently. If you are starting a business and believe that it will free you to choose your own hours and provide you with a new sense of freedom, our experience is that this is just not the case!
What do you struggle with most as a business owner?
The mistakes made in the first year of operating are the hardest to overcome. Due to financial choices made while you are identifying exactly who your client is, and trade ebb and flow, the second year can be correcting and making up for the prior unknown. So in our experience surviving the first 2 years of business is a huge accolade.
What’s next in store for you and Mad About the Girl
Instore we will be working harder and smarter. Building our community of clients is our priority, and we are forever in search of fabulous designers and brands to keep our edit unique and relevant. We are looking forward to designing and producing our own collection. Expanding on the personal styling component of our business is a priority and hopefully taking a holiday sometime soon (though not likely).
Given your experience, what (three) pieces of advice do you have for women starting a business?
1.First and foremost whatever you estimate the startup cost to be…triple it!
- Identify your competitors, don’t replicate what they are doing right but identify what you can do better.
- If you’re not passionately in love with what you have chosen to do, DON’T DO IT!
Any destination-where could we take you today?
Anywhere where the sun is warm on our skin, the Margaritas are flowing and there are no mobile phones or laptops in sight!
Mad About The Girl
13 Ormond Rd, Elwood VIC 3184