Last week I sat down with Dimitra to have a quick chat (that turned into a two hour lengthy conversation, walk around Surry Hills and mini shoot) about her new business venture, Basically Boutique. After sharing her experiences around living in regional Australia, getting awkward stares from the locals while donning her everyday nice clothes to the one decent cafe in the town, I immediately equated her situation with Dr Zoe Hart. While watching Hart of Dixie, my best friend texted me saying 'Net-A-Porter must be Zoe's best friend.' And she's probably right. It just so happens that Net-A-Porter is one of Dimitra's best friends too. Her limited access to labels in stores inspired her to start Basically Boutique, carefully curated with hard-to-find local and international designers.
As promised, my interview with Dimitra (a first for the two of us) and something a little extra for my readers: an exclusive sneak peak of their first campaign shot by fellow blogger bud, Nicole Cooper and featuring the natural stunner, Teresa Oman. The countdown is on. Only two more days until they're open for business. Read on to find out a bit more about what they've got in store (literally).
M: Basically Boutique is set to launch soon. How are you feeling in the lead up?
D: We’re launching first of July. I’m nervously excited. I think our fans and our support network are really going to love what they see, but it’s just going to take a while to establish a vibe for the store as we’re still waiting for pieces to come in.
M: How long has Basically Boutique been in the works?
D: It’s always been in the works! I studied entrepreneurship at uni and I’ve always wanted my own business but I didn’t know what it was going to be. Because of my husband’s job we’re constantly moving around, and I was on the lookout for new work at each location. I bought an Andol scarf back in January and I just kept thinking I would love to stock her scarves - they’re beautiful and I’ve never seen them around before. I contacted someone from the team and ask if they would consider supplying to me and from there it just snowballed.
M: So how much of your time has the boutique consumed?
D: It’s become a full time thing. I’m up at 6am emailing and then three days a week I work as a marketing manager. As soon as I’m on break or I’m finished for the day, I’m straight back into it. You’ll find me on computer emailing people until midnight.
M: What labels can we expect to see at Basically Boutique?
D: We’ve got 10 amazing labels and I’ve just secured one more officially. So we have Andol digital print scarves, April, May from Paris, the Parisian chic By Zoe, Ciat, Macgraw (I shouldn't have favourites but it is my favourite), Secret South, Thierry Lasry sunglasses, TEXTILE Elizabeth & James denim, Venessa Arizaga jewellery and Veda leather.
M: These labels look a little like what you’re wearing today. Is the boutique a reflection/ extension of your personal style?
D: Yes, definitely is! I’ve never bought before, but without being too conservative I’ve gotten pieces that reflect my personal style, are easy to wear and seamlessly integrates into your wardrobe. They are also high quality. I don’t want things falling apart because the business is a reflection of who I am. Macgraw for instance is 100% handmade and designed in Australia which is so rare. The amount of clothing that is imported into Australia is some phenomenal number so I think it’s really important to support Australian design talent.
M: With so many online stores out there, what do you think will be your point of difference?
D: Product mix and customer service. I want people to feel like they are shopping in store even though it’s online. I want BB to have this corner shop boutique feel. I want the experience between shopping at a brick-and-mortar store and online to be a bit vague because we’re so personalised - that’s what I’m aiming for anyway! And most of the brands you can only buy from us online.
Our pieces aren’t exactly cheap, but we want our customers to be rest assured that they are getting quality. The majority of things I’ve chosen for the store are classic and timeless pieces that you’re going to keep forever. You feel more comfortable investing in something you know you’ll be able to wear for season to come.
M: Are you an online or in store shopper?
D: 100% online! Living in regional Australia - how was I meant to get anything else? When we drove into Tamworth I thought to myself, are we seriously staying here? There was a Cotton On and a Supre, definitely did not cut it.
M: Where are some of your favourite places to shop?
D: Shopbop is number one. I also love following boutiques on Facebook, I find a lot of my inspiration there. There’s an amazing boutique in Brisbane called Calexico who maintain an active Facebook page. I think you just become really involved on Facebook and you feel like a part of store. I also love Net-A-Porter and Australian e-tailers like My Chameleon. I haven’t done a lot of shopping lately because of the site!
M: If you could stock any label at BB, who would it be?
D: Isabel Marant would be my number one. Mainly for the shoes, just so I can get my hands on the Bobby Sneakers. Rag and Bone would also be perfect. If Mary Katrantzou were to do a basics line with her amazing prints, I’d definitely be the first to call!
M: Who is the BB girl?
D: She's fun, informed, well travelled and knows what she's looking for. She's 19 to 39 and wants unique pieces that are of the highest quality. She reads Russh, Vogue, Grazia and follows all the trends through blogs and other forms of social media. She wears the clothes, the clothes never wear her. And on a side note, she would date either Ryan Gossling, Channing Tatum or James Franco.
M: How hard is to start your own business?
D: It is extremely risky, but I always think ‘no risk, no reward’. There’s never going to be a right time and for me it was like I’ve just got to do it otherwise I’m never going to do it. I don’t want to look back and regret, regardless of whether it succeeds or fails, and I’m hoping it will succeed. Life’s too short not to give something a go. But it’s tough work and requires lots of money. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m not Net-A-Porter or Shopbop and I can’t compete with them. I have to be true to who I am, my personal style and the store’s vibe. It’s been a real learning experience.
M: Where do you see the store in one year?
D: Well in one year I would love to have a big birthday bash! But in terms of the store I hope to bring in new brands every season. So fingers crossed by then we’ll have about 15 brands. I just want to keep bringing on brands that people don’t really know of and expose them to talented designers. I want to try and grow the store organically and I want Basically Boutique to be in everyone’s vocabulary. I hope that people will know us for our customer service, our quality and our advice.
Photographer: Nicole Cooper
Model: Teresa Oman
Make Up: Megan Harrison
Image 1: Macgraw top. Image 2: Andol scarf. Image 3: Veda jacket, April, May dress.