Happy customers are good for business and for Tauranga's Meghan Bowker, business is definitely looking good.
The Repertoire fashion company director and stylist was voted the city's favourite business person in a public vote run as part of Global Entrepreneur Week.
"It was a huge honour just to be nominated and it really means a lot," says Meghan, who was busy with one-on-one styling appointments at Repertoire's Tauranga store yesterday.
Repertoire, which has its own clothing label, has stores in Tauranga, Mount Maunganui, Newmarket and Takapuna and recently opened a fifth store, in New Plymouth. Meghan, who owns the business with her mother, Debi, and family friend Lee Kleiman, says further expansion is likely.
The business is "going through a growth stage" and the Repertoire trio have their eyes and ears open, looking for the next location to open a store.
Repertoire is in the business of making woman feel and look good, creating clothing and looks that are made for Kiwi bodies, are on trend and affordable and there's a big emphasis on customer service.
"Our customers are women of all ages and it is tonnes of fun getting to meet so many different people and making them feel good," says Meghan. "Customers love that we are New Zealand-made and we design clothes specifically for them. We know our customers and like to think we have something for every woman, for all ages and shapes."
Repertoire designs and produces about 80 per cent of the clothing range in its stores and buys in accessories and jewellery plus a range of home wares and body and bath products.
Many of the chain's 50 staff were once happy customers.
Meghan was in her last year of a business and arts degree at Otago University when Debi and Lee invited her to start a business with them and it has been "the best thing in the world" for the young director. The first store opened in 2007 and the business headquarters and design room remain in Tauranga.
"I've learned so much in the last six years. I wasn't always into fashion, it wasn't on my radar until I met Lee but I've never looked back," Meghan says.
While Lee designs and produces the Repertoire clothing range, Meghan does the buying, staff training and runs the personal styling service while Debi takes care of the operational side of things, including marketing and HR.
Now living in Auckland for business reasons, Meghan regularly comes back to Tauranga and is now also travelling to New Plymouth to keep an eye on the new store there. It's a busy life but one she loves and this week she has even more than usual on her plate - she gets married on Friday.
The ceremony will be at the Hotel on Devonport which her parents built and which was home for awhile. Meghan's father is property developer Paul Bowker.
Meghan is excited about the future. After a horror road crash in 2008 when she suffered serious head and internal injuries, she's thankful she has a future and says being a business owner is an adventure.
"After my accident, we really consolidated and worked to prepare the business for growth and we're now well staffed and have the systems in place to enable that to happen," the former Tauranga Girls' College head girl says.
"The aim is definitely to get bigger. Under our current structure, we could take it to eight stores and, after that, who knows?
"I think Repertoire has a big future. It's an unknown in terms of what it will be but the principles it's built on won't change."