Saturday May 7th was a gorgeous sunny day where fashionistas, media, photographers, and bloggers showed up to pack the Grand Opening Party at Couturist on 1085 Robson Street. The store is between Burrard Street and Thurlow Street, on the golden shopping strip where foot traffic is constant. As we approached the store front, we were drawn in by a cute floral romper displayed and several eye-catching sunglasses in their window. A couple of steps into the boutique store, we saw the consistent flow of modern yet minimalist style throughout their interior design. While DJ Eddie Rolando was entertaining the crowd with amazing mixes of pop and house music, we were able to steal some time with the owners of Couturist for a private interview.


Alice: When did you start this business?

Vicky: We launched our e-boutique on Dec 23, 2014 and did pop-up shops in different neighbourhoods before we opened this store.

Alice: What was the inspiration for you three to start this business?

Riko: Vicky and I worked together as managers in 2012 and built up a fashion retailer from scratch. We worked 12 hours a day in the first month. We also stayed overnight multiple times only to come back to work within 3 hours. From managing daily operations, hiring and training staff and merchandising products, we successfully opened and operated a brand new store. From this shared experience, we believe our skills and abilities can be used to their fullest potential if we were to start our very own business.

Alice: What is your education?

Riko: Daniel and I graduated with an Economics degree from UBC.

Vicky: I graduated with Marketing Management from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Alice: What is unique about Couturist as a brand?

Riko:

– Styles that are different from what Vancouver has to offer.

– Contemporary, not just minimalist, things you can mix and match with existing wardrobe.

– Jewelry is mostly handmade in the U.S. Quality is 14K gold plated or sterling silver.

– We love to carry brands that give back to society, for example the L.A based company Half United, who are famous for recycled bullet casing earrings, bracelets, and graphic shirts. 50% their proceeds go to fight hunger for third world children. Another brand Marigold Collective, a Vancouver based business, making hand dyed scarves in cotton, silk and linen, and that uses fair-trade labour empowering women in Vietnam with work so they may support their families.

Alice: How many brands do you carry?

Vicky: We carry 16 brands representing the U.K, USA, Australia and local designers.

Alice: Do you have any products under your own brand?

Riko: Yes, we carry jewelry under our brand. As for our clothing line, it is currently under development.


Alice: What is the age range of women your service with your clothes?

Vicky:
Ages between 18-40.


Alice: What is your company culture or belief system?

Riko:
Contemporary, Chic and Comfortable

Alice: Could you please define it for me? Since everyone has their own interpretation of the meaning of words?

Vicky:


Alice: What is your company culture or belief system?

Riko:
Contemporary, Chic and Comfortable


Alice: Could you please define it for me? Since everyone has their own interpretation of the meaning of words?

Vicky:

Contemporary: Very simplistic, minimalist, modern, urban.


Chic:
Unique designs and cutting. Neutral colours and structural, geometric shapes. Pops of colours and abstract prints are a part of the aesthetic too. Usage of such designs express our personality.


Comfortable:
Quality of material and design, the customer will feel comfortable wearing the garment.

Alice: Could you please describe the personality or characteristics of your customers?

Vicky: Fashionistas who are comfortable with setting themselves apart from the crowd by being adventurous, experimental, and confident.

Alice: What have they said about your store?

Vicky: During our Christmas Pop Up Shop in December 2015, we would hear “The store offers unique styles that aren’t easily found in Vancouver. Finally there is variety!”

Alice: What are you guys hoping to achieve in the long run? Let’s say in five-ten years?

Riko: We strongly believe in giving back to society and supporting local businesses and designers so these are on-going projects.

In five years we aim to have multiple stores, expanding to the rest of North America. We will also have clothing collections for men and women along with our jewelry line.

Alice: What is the meaning of your logo?

Riko: Our logo is based on the shape of triangles and since we are a team of three, we feel like the shape best represents us. Also, a triangle is the most stable shape in math.

Alice: Right now, everyone is talking about slow fashion, what are your thoughts on it?

Riko: We need to keep up-to-date but at the same time we want to ensure quality. We want to be a stable part of your wardrobe.

Alice: Please share with our readers your thoughts on fashion?

Riko: be comfortable in what you’re wearing, fashion reflects your personality, stay authentic in expressing yourself. Fashion can fuel your confidence. Every girl wants to look good. You want to look more confident. Having one thing that pops in your whole outfit – a colour, a texture, or a piece of jewelry, can attract people’s eye.

Alice: Did you always want to be a fashion designer when you were little?

Riko: YES, I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was little, then an architect. When I see the many designs in magazines, I get really excited, but we don’t have the selection in Vancouver. In Couturist, my focus is on the business side. We love our products; we choose every single piece with love.

Vicky: I always wanted to be in the fashion industry and specifically a fashion designer. Visual merchandising and product purchasing are also what I am extremely passionate about too.

Fashion rules to live by from Riko:

1) pick the style that suits you, I discover a new me each year, it’s an ongoing evolution. For example, I like comfy stuff, I can wear it every day. I also like cutout dresses, maxi floral skirts are very chic and romantic, and I’m excited to get it. Vicky and I both love buying, thinking about new trends and how to mix and match.

2) Have to be comfortable, be proud.

Fashion rules to live by Vicky:

1) I usually wear at most three colours. I have the tendency to not mix my metals when it comes to jewelry (e.g. all gold or all silver.)

2) Minimal makeup with simply lipstick and mascara.

3) Wear mostly boots and flats since I’m constantly on my feet.

Alice: How long was the process to open this store?

Vicky: One year planning before we had the online store, One year after the online store we officially opened. We had this location for our Pop Up shop in December 2015 and had a lot of success so it gave us the confidence to sign the lease. We’re very lucky to find this location that has constant traffic, and it’s next to many other well-known brands.

Alice: If I was a poor student with only a $100 budget, could I buy a whole outfit here?

Vicky: For sure, a T-shirt, which comes in colour options, is around the $20-30 range. Add a pair of jean shorts, which is within $60, would make a cute and casual outfit that is under $100.

Alice: What is the most expensive item in your whole store?

Vicky: Stella & Jamie is a designer brand based in L.A. We carry a beautifully crafted black and white Jumpsuit that has mesh detail in front, cropped, wide-leg pant leg and criss-cross straps on the back.

Alice: What is the number of staff who work here?

Riko: Vicky and I are both full time here, my husband Daniel, the other owner of the store works here part time, and we’re in the process of hiring another part time retail staff.


Everyone was excited to see the contemporary store with chic styles and comfortable clothing, all were eager to try on new outfits. For the event, Couturist offered lucky draws for every customer and one lucky young lady won a $100 gift card which brought a thunderous cheer from everyone at the store!

The guests were treated to such as croissants, brownies and coconut macarons. Prosecco, and a variety of wines were provided for our guests’ pleasure. Red wine was sponsored by Winestains Club. Bouquets after bouquets of flowers poured in from friends of the owners, to congratulate their grand opening. Riko looked stunning in a crème jumper and matching cream ankle boots welcoming everyone with a huge smile and hug. On the other hand, Vicky looked polished and chic in a green floral long sleeve crop top paired with a knitted navy skirt. Their perfect makeup and hair was done by Jill Liu, a good friend Vicky’s. The Couturist also had five additional staff staffers helping out, some acted as greeters handing out snacks and informing the passers-by to join the party. Others served beverages and waited on ladies who were eager to shop. Everyone had a drink in their hands, and smiles on their faces; the atmosphere was one of excitement discussing the latest fashion trends, off the shoulder and the cool mirrored sunglasses with patterned frames.

Among the guest list were Pam Zhao, owner of Ply Management, a modeling agency, Andy Chu, Executive Producer of FMA Entertainment, Ariel JingJing Cao, Miss Teenage British Columbia 2016, and many more. Everyone enjoyed taking photos with the Instagram frame tagging

#Couturist #couturistcanada #iamcouturist #couturistsquad.

Daniel concludes: “our Grand Opening Party was a dream come true! It would not have been possible without the help of our beloved friends and family. Couturist is honoured to owe this success to our wonderful guests of that day. Their love and support for us was more than we could ask for.

Fun times always passes us by so swiftly; Couturist looked back at the photos taken of the event and was pleased to see all the smiles, hugs and bonding among our guests. We can gladly announce that we’ve fulfilled our promise to our customers not only by providing beautiful, quality fashion but also being a part of their lives in different forms: their confidence, their inspiration and their lifestyles. Couturist will continue to keep our promise and bring the best service and best additions to your wardrobe!”

The Grand Opening Party was definitely a memorable one and we all had a blast! We strongly recommend you come check out this amazing boutique called Couturist on 1085 Robson St. or online at www.couturist.ca!