Oh-so sophisticated: standing out and rocking it
COCO CHANEL once said: “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” With this advice in mind, it seems the owners of OH.SO, a quaint apparel and accessories boutique in Frederiksberg, have the right idea.
As many promising stories begin, “the idea started in Paris,” revealed Arsema-Valentina Andersen and Bana Haile. The pair had been friends since birth and always shared a love of style, so when they took a trip to the fashion capital several years ago they became inspired.
“I think everybody has an entrepreneur inside themselves,” Andersen explained. “We both wanted to work in fashion and finally the opportunity arrived. We got the location, we had the connections to get the right brands, and one, two, three – now we’re living our everyday dream.”
Niche concepts important
WHILE this brief summary of the boutique’s birth may read like the quintessential feminine dream, the owners know that in reality you must be business-savvy.
“Because we are a small boutique, we have to differentiate ourselves. We try to serve a small niche and buy things that are not that common,” revealed Haile.
“We try hard to get the brands that are really out there: Italian brands, French brands. I even went to Berlin and found some Swedish brands that aren’t here in Denmark. If you really want to be different, you have to go all out,” added Andersen.
The concept of differentiation is even present in the name, which is meant to allow customers to customise it to fit their own unique style. Examples might be OH.SO sexy, OH.SO elegant or OH.SO chic.
LIKE MANY new business owners, Andersen and Haile faced their fair share of challenges.
“First impressions are everything,” stressed Haile. “The main difficulty when we were first buying inventory was that we didn’t know who our customer would be – what she looked like, what she wanted, how old she was, or what brands she preferred. We had to buy on gut feeling and based on what we liked ourselves.”
“Being new is hard, from being new to tax issues to customers to social media,” Andersen elaborated. “For example, with your personal Instagram, you can post anything, but you have to think twice when it’s your business. You really have to care for your image.”
Seeking online perfection
THE DUO recognise the importance of having an online presence and regularly update OH.SO’s Facebook and Instagram accounts with images of new merchandise. They are also in the midst of creating a webshop for consumers to order OH.SO’s products online. Their online store has been in the works for some time now, but continues to be in progress.
“There’s stuff on it, but the site is not exactly how we want it to be yet.” Andersen continued. “I think when something is your own, you want it to be perfect. And if it’s not perfect, you don’t want to show it to the world.”
Once the webshop is completed, it will carry all of the same products as the physical boutique, thus allowing customers from further away to easily access OH.SO.
At the moment, jewellery is one of the most popular items at the boutique – a brand called Maria Black was so well-received that its jewellery sold out the first day it was available.
Andersen and Haile explained that OH.SO carries upscale brands in another effort to stand out. Some of the currently carried brands include Alberto Fasciani, Utzon and Julie Brandt, while some brands due to arrive next year are Karl Lagerfeld, Missoni, Pierre Balmain and Birkenstock.
Own it like it’s yours
“EVERYTHING that we have here is something we would wear – the store is like an extension of our closet,” asserted Haile.
“Ultimately, we have to believe in the clothes because that reflects on the customer. If we feel really good in an outfit and rock it, then a customer will buy it.”
As she gestured to herself, Andersen continued: “A person I could never imagine wearing this outfit today would wear it, top to toe, if I gave off a great energy.”
When asked if they had any advice, the women suggested aspiring fashion entrepreneurs have a lot of patience and a lot of capital.
“You really, really need to want it otherwise you will burn out because it’s not a piece of cake. It’s not.”