FASHFEST 2016 Interview: Alicia Xyrakis of Rebel Muse

To mark the upcoming FASHFEST 2016 Chictales got the opportunity to interview the designers and retailers that will be featured in FASHFEST. FASHFEST will start on  29 September 2016 and will run for 3 nights until 1 October 2016  and will be held at the National Convention Centre in Canberra.

Rebel Muse is a boutique retailer in Canberra stocking the best Australian Designer Labels. However, it’s not only a boutique retailer, it is also a fashion space with the personalised service they provide including styling tips, tricks and inspirations. On opening night at FASHFEST, Rebel Muse will be representing AliceMcCALL and Asilio in Show 1 Reverie and MLM & Hansen & Gretel in Show 2 Furore.

The team at Chictales got to chat to Rebel Muse owner Alicia Xyrakis about her background, how she got started in the Fashion business, favourite designers, and the season’s trends to look out for this Spring/Summer.

  1. First of all, could you tell us about yourself and your background in Fashion?

I was born and grew up in Canberra. I moved to England when I was 17 when I got accepted in to the school for the Birmingham Royal Ballet Company.  I spent 3 years in England then moved back to Australia in Sydney.  In Sydney I studied fashion business at FBI and managed the White Suede boutique in Paddington.  From there I moved into a head office role for Diva as an Assistant Merchandise Planner.  Not to be confused with a Visual Merchandiser, Merchandise planers work with the buyers to work out budgets, sales strategies, report on product movement etc. During my time at Diva the retail group that owns Diva decided to shut the company down.  They moved me across to work in the same position at Honey Birdette who is owned by the same retail company as Diva.  I enjoyed my role and the type of work I was doing and everything I was learning at Honey Birdette, but my main goal always was to own my own fashion business.  I was ready to start planning and working on opening my own business, which was difficult to do while at HB as the hours and the job was so demanding! But that is generally with any job in the fashion industry.  I stepped back to a role as Womenswear manager for Glue in Bondi Junction.  Which gave me a little bit more time to work on my own plans on the side.

Alicia Xrakis

Image Source: Rebel Muse

  1. What got you interested in fashion and in starting your own retail store?

I have always been interested in fashion for as long as I can remember, I would have to say it came from my mum.  My mum had a huge collection of Bazaar and Vogue magazines that I use to love flicking through even as a kid. She had an amazing wardrobe and I always loved watching her get ready to go out for an event or to dinner.  She was always so well put together and really had her own style that she presented to the world.  And me as well from a young age always liked putting my outfits together, getting dressed up and wearing whatever I felt.

My family owns the Ainslie IGA supermarket so I grew up in family business.  Owning a shop or a business was just what you did in my family.  No one worked in the public service or in an office, so I didn’t know too much about many of those fields.  I loved the community my family created around their supermarket and my dad always had so many keys, always running off to meetings and people were always trying to get hold of him and wanting to talk to him and hear his opinion on matters.  I thought that that was all a sign of him being so important! And I wanted to be like him in that way I guess.  Except I also knew that I wanted to work in Fashion. So it was just a matter of bringing these two lives together.

  1. You’ve been in your business now for just over 1 year. What has been the challenges in opening your own business, especially in the first year? And what does the future hold for Rebel Muse?

The challenges of the business has definitely been wearing all the different hats and juggling all the different roles I play.  I am the sales assistant and store manager, I need to be motivated and lead my employees and hang out, form relationships with and style my customers.  I am the buyer and  bookkeeper.  And I look after the social media, the online store and the marketing.  I have Yadira who is our blogger and editor so she manages the blog which has 3 posts a week and I make sure I write one post for the blog per month.  And I have my awesome girls in store who make it all a bit easier.  Also scaling and growth is one of the hardest parts.  As I do the buying 6 months ahead I have to forcast what I think our growth will be the following season and make sure I buy the stock accordingly.  If I get this wrong then we are stuck with way too much stock or not enough!

Rebel Muse has its sister store Peachy Keen opening in just 4 weeks’ time!! Peachy keen is a shoe shop that is opening on Lonsdale street just 3 shops down from Rebel Muse.  We are moving all our shoes bags and accessories out of Rebel Muse and into Peachy Keen.  This means we can extend our range of clothing in RM and extend our range of shoes and accessories in PK.  On top of this we are still continuing to work on growing the online store and blog.

Rebel Muse Boutique Store

Image Source: Rebel Muse

Rebel Muse Boutique Store

Image Source: Rebel Muse

  1. Tell us the process on how you curate and seek out new labels for your boutique?

When I was putting together the first season for Rebel Muse for us to open with, it was very difficult to get brands on board.  Designers are very protective of their brand image and who represents them.  And also very concise of flooding the market.  So its very difficult to convince brands to stock with you when you have no history and have hardly built your brand.   But there are so many brands out there that aren’t weren’t yet represented in Canberra that I was able to get a few very strong brands from the beginning.  It also helps to have a very strong and clear plan for your brand image so other brands can tell if they want to work with you and if your brands align.  Now it’s a lot easier, a lot of brands reach out to me and send me lookbooks, or if I have a specific new brand in mind I will get in touch with their sales manager and tell them a bit about Rebel Muse and ask if I would be able to come to their next showing to meet with them and discuss it further.  I also work with fashion agencies who represent a bunch of brands and will look after sales on their behalf.  So they will always have new brands to introduce me to.  You also start to make a few connection within the industry as people move from brand to brand a fair bit, so that always helps to get a foot in with new brands.

There are generally 2 main buying season of the year.  During this period brands will invite you to come view their next collection.  They could hold their viewing for 3 days or 2 weeks. If the brand is based in Melbourne they will also hold showings in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide for a few days too.  During this period I will make selections on what I want to buy for the following season.  Showings and buying generally happens about 6 months before you so the product in store.  So for example, at the moment I am in the middle of buying for Autumn and Winter 2017 which will start arriving in store between jan-May 2017.

Part of my job is to keep on top of trends before they come to market.  So before I start buying I decide what trends I think will be really strong for the season and if there are any key pieces I think we really need to have in store.  But then I also like to see what the brands are coming up with and bringing out that are totally different and new and not like anything else I have seen around.

  1. What is your favourite label/designer?

I don’t like this question because its kind of like asking me to pick my favourite child! Each brand that is in Rebel Muse is there because I personally love the brand and because it has a place and a reason for being in the store.  They all bring something different.  Nobody make the best Denim and its all Australian Made.  Acler is one of my fave new brands on the market, their cuts and fits are always on point.  McGraw is a super luxe and amazing quality brand that is also all manufactured in Australia.  Alice McCall have such fun and quirky statement pieces.  Oh and Hansen & Gretel are a must have at the moment again beautiful fabrics and cuts.

Hansel & Gretel Image Source: Rebel MuseHansel & Gretel
Image source: Rebel Muse 
Alice McCall Image Source: Rebel MuseAlice McCall
Image Source: Rebel Muse
  1. What is your “must-have” clothing item?

Good basic Tee’s,  A silk shirt, silk cami, a good, trusty, flattering pair of jeans, leather jacket, blazer, white sneakers, nude patent pumps and if you can make the investment a pair of leather pants and a leather skirt.  With these 12 items you can have an endless wardrobe!

  1. Since Spring is here and Summer is coming up soon, what are the essentials that every women need for the warmer seasons?

This spring/summer definitely white sneakers, mules, denim skirt, slip dress, silk cami, a relaxed cotton shirt and a linen dress.

  1. Rebel Muse will be representing some designers at FASHFEST this year, can you tell us more?

I have 4 major Australian designers that I represent in store that are bringing selections from their collections to Canberra! I think this is pretty exciting as it’s the first time major designers are showing at FashFest.  We have Alice McCall, Asilio, Hansen & Gretel and MLM all sending 5 key pieces from their SS’16 collections to FAshFest.  They are all pieces you will be able to shop in store at Rebel Muse.  Asilio and Alice McCall are more your event wear and statement pieces, while Asilio and MLM are more relaxed everyday pieces that are very on trend.

Asilio Image Source: Rebel MuseAsilio
Image source: Rebel Muse 
Image Source: Rebel Muse
hansen-gretelHansel & Gretel
Image source: Rebel Muse 
Image Source: Rebel Muse

Image Source: Rebel Muse

You can visit the Rebel Muse boutique on 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, in Canberra. Also check out their website www.rebelmuse.com.au where you can order online with free shipping Australia-wide.

Don’t  forge to visit Rebel Muse Facebook page and Instagram too!.

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