A YEAR IN AND STOKED

Life­style Footwear owner re­flects on 12 months in the shoe in­dus­try

Stanthorpe Border Post - - FRONT PAGE - Liana Walker Liana.Walker@bor­der­post.com.au

STEP­PING into shoe sales wasn’t what Ju­lianne

O’Brien ex­pected to do but af­ter one year at Life­style Footwear she knows she’s on the right path.

Since open­ing, the busi­ness has ex­panded in prod­uct range and brands stocked, but Mrs O’Brien is al­ways look­ing to grow.

“We’re open to peo­ple’s sug­ges­tions, if they want us to stock dif­fer­ent stock they can al­ways ask and we can look into it,”

“It’s been a big 12 months. it’s been chal­leng­ing, we’ve learned heaps.”

Own­ing her own busi­ness means Mrs O’Brien is able to stock prod­ucts not found eas­ily else­where.

“We’ve got a cou­ple of out-of-town cus­tomers who come here purely to shop shoes be­cause we’ve got shoes that are in­di­vid­ual.

“You don’t just walk into a shop­ping cen­tre and see the same thing. Each shop you go to each shop­ping cen­tre its the same shoes, the same colours.

“Here we’re able to stock what we pick which makes us more in­di­vid­ual.”

Mrs O’Brien al­ways wanted to run a busi­ness so when the op­por­tu­nity arose she couldn’t say no.

“The tim­ing was right, ev­ery­thing fell into place. I found it with my sis­ter in-law Al­fina and I’m very pleased to have done it.

“I al­ways worked in jew­ellery, I worked in re­tail my whole life, I didn’t think the shoe thing would be where I’d end up.”

The store stocks some­thing for ev­ery­one, rang­ing from kids school shoes, ladies dress shoes, men’s work boots and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

“The big­gest chal­lenge was learn­ing about or­thotic shoes and how they worked and how to fit them prop­erly,” Mrs O’Brien said.

“Se­condly was stock, how much to buy, how much we needed and what to buy.

“I’m sure that will be still a chal­lenge down the track be­cause I think that’s just a grow­ing thing. I’m sure we’ll make mis­takes but we’ll learn from them.”

Even with chal­lenges there have been plenty of high­lights. Mrs O’Brien said events were the most fun.

“Race day, deb balls, school’s al­ways mas­sive. Which is kind of fun cause we get to pick the stock for all those things and we have in­tro­duced a bit dif­fer­ent, bit younger, try­ing to at­tract the younger mar­ket.

“It’s good when you see stock you’ve picked that ac­tu­ally works.”

Ladies fash­ion brands in­clude Django and Juli­ette, Zeta, Sala, Frankie4, Ar­co­pe­dico, Com­panero, Vera May hand­bags and Cellini hand­bags.

One sur­pris­ing big seller has been white Hol­lis­ter sneak­ers with glit­ter on the toe and heel.

“The girls are wear­ing their sum­mer dresses, putting their lit­tle sneak­ers on and off they go.

“It’s funny cause you never would have thought of putting sneak­ers with a dress at all but it works.”

Now with 12 months in the bag, Mrs O’Brien feels more in­formed with what prod­ucts to buy.

“We know our cus­tomer base, we know what peo­ple want, we know how shoes fit.

“If you get some­thing in and you’re sell­ing in the first day or two or you don’t even get it out you know you’ve made the right choice.”

She hopes in the next year their busi­ness will con­tinue to grow.

“I’m just hav­ing fun with it, its been a good 12 months.

“I just want to be here for a long time. Hope­fully we do the right thing by ev­ery­one.”

PHOTO: LIANA WALKER

STRUT: Ju­lianne O'Brien and Na­talie Vede­lago at Life­style Footwear.

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