The IMAGE Boutique Awards: Kimono Boutique Cork on the importance of social media and being a working mum
Unless you’re living under a rock somewhere, you’ve probably heard about our Boutique Awards. Voting is well under-way as our readers and users support and give recognition to their favourite boutiques from around the country. In the run-up to the awards, we’ll be giving the floor to our nominees so you can learn more about them and their business (and you might just find your new favourite shopping haunt too). Here, we speak with Kimono Boutique owner Ailish Mullane on the importance of social media for modern businesses and juggling her work with two young children.
If you could start again, what would you do differently and why?
Businesses don’t have a restart button. However, if I could start again, I would have selected Provincial House (current address) as the business premises for Kimono Boutique in 2003 as it is a stunning Victorian building built in 1879, and perfectly located in the centre of Newcastle West.
What has been your career highlight to date?
My career highlights can be summarised as follows:
I was awarded and featured in the Irish Times best 10 fashion boutiques in Ireland in 2016, which really gave me a boost in my confidence. I was also featured prominently in RTE’s Frock Finders series in 2018. Kimono prides itself on superior customer service by interacting with customers in a caring, sincere and attentive manner. By consistently going ‘the extra mile’, this has resulted in Kimono Boutique enjoying long lasting and loyal relationship with our customers. The business relationships that I have formed and nurtured with our customers over the years has transitioned to friendships in so many cases.
Do you use social media for your business? What importance does social media play for modern entrepreneurs?
Social media plays an important role in Kimono Boutique’s marketing strategy and communication platform. The ability to share photographs, videos and opinions in real time via Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter has transformed the way we engage with our customers and advertise our promotional campaigns. Social media is arguably the most important digital marketing platforms that modern entrepreneurs use to increase their visibility and brand recognition. By utilising social media, it makes it easier for entrepreneurs to connect with customers (existing and potential).
What has been your biggest challenge?
I arrive at the boutique 45 minutes prior to opening time to catch up on bookkeeping, social media updates and planning for the day ahead. From 10.00 a.m. to 6 p.m. I am focused on assisting my customers and trying to provide them with the perfect shopping experience.
How do you think you got to where you are today?
I am privileged to be working in an industry that I am very passionate about. The favourite part of my job is seeing satisfied customers and meeting a customer wearing a piece she bought ten seasons ago. This is a testament to the quality of our labels.
What is the hardest part of your job?
One of the most difficult aspects of my job is planning the seasons as I have to place orders with the International and Irish designers six months in advance. I’m a wife and a mum of two boys under the age of six, so travelling to international shows and participating in evening fashion shows can be challenging.