SIA Couture to sponsor Miss Universe Tanzania 2013 tonight. See more…
SIA Boutique to sponsor Miss Universe Tanzania 2013 tonight.
Interviewer Shellina Ebrahim
Photographed by Ali Zoeb
What role do you play at SIA Couture? Describe a typical day at work.
My role is to manage overall day to day business at the shops. My main focus is making sure we provide utmost help and service to customers that enter SIA. They should feel most welcomed and appreciated.
What inspired you to start a boutique and why did you name it SIA?
It was pretty much my love of fashion that my husband recognized and his constant efforts of making me realize that I could do well in this line of business. Whilst on holiday, I felt that there was a huge gap in the Tanzanian market and that people didn’t really have the benefit of finding the right product at the right place and time. SIA is my daughter’s name, Now i realize SIA has a lot of different meanings in a lot of other languages! All good meanings!
In what ways do you think SIA boutique is helping to transform the Tanzanian fashion industry?
I believe SIA is helping to fill the gap of finding the top most quality designer and high end brands right here in Tanzania! It’s providing customers the most up to date world fashion and style. We feel that people have become a lot more confident on spending on fashion products when they are spending on a quality product.
What is your education background and why did you choose retail?
I have a degree in Business and Law from England. Having have grown up in a family where we have retail businesses, I felt the most comfortable in this industry.
What is making SIA boutique a success?
I feel that it is our niche collection and concept that we continuously work on. We always strive to bring the latest and distinctive collection that a customers feel proud to purchase and flaunt in. Second, it is the close attachment that we have built with our customers that make us a success.
As a business woman, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I wish to see a greater progress, awareness, and expansion of our business in East Africa. With unconditional support and love from our customers of course.
If you had to reflect back, what year was it, where where you at, who did you share with about starting a boutique?
Then based in England, nursing a newborn baby Sia, sitting for final Law exams. It kind of felt like it was time to either follow normal chores or do something different. I shared this idea with my husband first and then my brother Arjun who is based in Dar. They were both the most supportive.
What gender and age groups does SIA cater to?
SIA caters to pretty much all age groups. Our flagship store at Sea Cliff Village attracts age groups of 14 yrs to 60+ yrs. We have expanded to junior wear and have recently opened SIA Junior Couture which is based at the Slipway. In this store we focus on Newborns up to age 16.
Tell us about the collections you carry at SIA?
We bring a varied range. It’s a mixture of high end designer to boutique and high street collections from London, Italy, Paris and the USA. We recently launched Hugo Boss Junior wear in our Slipway Branch and are the first ones to bring brands to East Africa for kids! Also currently working with other brands to introduce in the next few months.
How would you describe SIA boutique?
We are a distinctive store that offers distinctive style.
In your opinion, is technology transforming retail in tanzania?
Technology has enormously helped retail in Tanzania and I can see a huge difference since we started. A great example is FAS Online Magazine.!
You are an inspiration for many people who want to be like you. A lot of your girls want to do what you do. Tell me about the challenges and successes of your journey and what advice would you offer to people who want to follow in your foot steps?
I am only humbled and the only advice I can give is to believe in your dreams however small or big they are. Work hard and give your ultimate best in what you love to do. Accept the challenges and fight your fears come what may. Don’t let anyone judge your ideas. As long as you believe in them, you will see magic happening and success is bound to follow you.
What are your proudest moments and what are your worst moments as a business woman?
My proudest moments are when we are appreciated by our customers and the public at large. My worst ones are when we unknowingly fail to deliver customer’s expectations. This gives us a chance to learn, be better and make customer’s happy.
How do you juggle between between family and being a business woman?
I have an amazing family. A beautiful daughter who makes my work easier to deal with and an amazing life partner who understands me. He is the backbone of this business and he helps me put life into perspective. No matter how busy I am on the work front, my family is my utmost priority.
How old is SIA boutique today. How many locations do you have and where?
We now have two locations. One is our flagship store, SIA Couture at Sea Cliff Village where we deal with adult ranges. The second one is SIA Junior Couture at Slipway (in the Souk), that deals with teenage, children and baby ranges.
What state is the Tanzanian fashion retail industry in at the moment and how different is it compared to when SIA opened? Any retail trends?
The Tanzanian fashion industry has dramatically improved since we started. It’s nice to see that the standards in fashion and retails has been raised.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Apart from enjoying the day to day running of SIA, I really enjoy travelling, meeting like minded people, buying and merchandising. I also love working and engaging with individuals and companies who help promote our business just like yourselves!
What do we need to do to make the Tanzanian fashion industry and the Tanzanian retail industry a honorable and sustainable industry?
We all need to recognize this gap and lack of standards in retail and customer services. If all businesses and business orientated individuals recognize this then Tanzania will go leaps and bounds. It’s a fruitful country and there’s room for lots of improvements and growth.
Do you get involved in the community via SIA boutique? Explain what you have been involved in and who you would like to get involved with in the future.
We have recently been engaged with a few advertising campaigns, events and celebrities. We have some upcoming and exciting events to look forward to such as Miss Universe Tanzania where SIA Couture will be majorly participating. We are also taking part in the upcoming Maridadi Fashion Show. I don’t actually plan to follow a certain pattern of doing things. We just make most when the time is right to be part of something.
If SIA had to dress anyone in Tanzania, who would it be any why?
To be honest it would be the whole nation.
There are many gorgeous clothes in the world. What do you look for when picking items for your boutique? What challenges have you faced with regards to this task?
I always pick the items which I personally love to wear and would love my clientele to wear.
How often do you get new stock?
We stock up majorly every 2 months but in the meantime, we have plenty of top-up stock anyway so you will always see new items every week.
Why did you choose Sea cliff for a location?
For years now, Sea Cliff has been a decent spot for business. It’s a charming upmarket location just right for SIA Couture brands and its clientele.
Describe your general clientele/target.
Our general clientele ranges from local Tanzanians, diplomats, expats and widely travelled clients in general who know their fashion and brands.
What is your price point?
Our prices ranges from as little as Tshs 10000 for an accessory up to Tshs 300000+ for a high end garment. We have a diverse selection with variable price ranges to make sure everyone can enjoy shopping at SIA.
Describe the interior deco of SIA and what is the inspiration behind it. Who is behind the sense of design and the details? In what aspect is the whole boutique packaged?
The interior was basically a mix of ideas and imagination that worked out superbly and justified to the edgy look that I wanted. I have to greatly hand it to my brother who worked so closely with me in designing the shop. All the design materials has been sourced from England except the for the wooden furniture which was made bespoke to our sketches in Arusha.
Can we find Sia Boutique on social media channels?
Yes you can find us by “SIA Couture” on Facebook.