Shannon Fox is an inspirational and bold 28 year old who lives in Albany with her cat and her husband and has just recently opened up an exciting new clothing store, “Eclectic Ladyland” on Stirling Terrace. REDteen visited Shannon’s fantastic shop for a chat about how she came to this stage in her life.
Tell us a bit about yourself, such as what jobs have you done before and where did you study?
I studied radio and media at Murdoch University and worked casually at ABC radio 720 as a producer. I then presented and produced radio programs at RTR FM for five years. After uni, I helped with the “Smarter than Smoking” schools program run by the WAM association. We visited schools with different bands and promoted the message of not smoking. RTR sponsored the program.
I have also been involved in DJing around Perth, at the Big Day Out, Southbound and Groovin’ the Moo as well as at local nightclubs and bars in Perth.
I have written music reviews and interviewed bands for Drum Media, the West Australian and Tone Deaf. I also worked for a couple of years at Mellen Events coordinating communications for events like Future Music Festival and Summadayze. And finally, I have briefly managed a band.
What made you decide to move to Albany?
I grew up visiting Albany as I had family who lived here. I came down recently on a holiday and saw a beachside cottage for rent. So I put in an application, not really thinking I’d get it, but was successful, so I had to move down in three weeks and drag my husband along too!
I am less stressed down here – I do miss all my friends and family, gigs and restaurants, but I don’t miss the traffic. Now when I visit Perth I notice how bad it smells compared to Albany’s fresh, country air which is perfumed by the bush and ocean! I have made friends here and have a cat, Ragged Blossom, who is a great companion.
Why did you decide to start up your own business?
When I moved to Albany I was trying to find work but the different jobs I had lined up didn’t work out. I ended up with a choice of either getting a crummy job that I didn’t like or else I could build something for myself. My whole life I have always thought it would be fun to have a shop and I also love a challenge or project to work on, so starting up my own boutique seemed like a great idea.
Although I don’t really have retail experience, I have lots of experience in marketing, social media, dealing with people and playing ‘hard ball’ when I need to.
What was it like setting up your own shop? How did you do it?
Google was my bestie! I used it heaps to research how stores actually got stock in their shop, to find contacts for the labels I wanted to carry, and to get information about the legalities of registering a business. I also have a friend in Albany who owns a clothing store who gave me some tips. I had to use Google in the beginning to understand the lingo some of my agents (who I order clothes from) were using.
The name of my store was inspired by a Jimi Hendrix album “Electric Ladyland” but I changed the first word to “Eclectic” to show that the store has lots of different styles. I came up with a psychedelic illustration to go with the name of the store and a friend of mine who is a graphic designer, further developed the look of the illustration, so it became a design for the front of the shop and also for my business cards and website.
In terms of finding a suitable store, I knew that a clothing shop which I visited occasionally, was closing down, so I went to the real estate agent straight away and asked if I could take it over.
I was able to fund the start up costs of the business with help from my parents, who organised a loan from their bank. I went through them as they were able to get a lower interest rate than I could get and I pay them back (loan and interest).
Most of the clothing in the store is from Australian designers and I choose labels that I like that other stores in Albany don’t carry. I also sell the clothing, jewellery, shoes, hats, lipstick and other accessories online.
Sometimes I bring my cat, Ragged Blossom, to the shop because she likes making friends with the customers, and she is well known at some of the local cafes. I enjoy seeing the regular customers who often pop in just to say hi. I have some very interesting customers of all ages and backgrounds.
In the beginning I had people telling me it might not be a good idea to start up a business and that I should consider my health, which I found frustrating. I believe I can do it. Over the last few years I had started to let CF stop me from doing some of the things I wanted to do and I don’t want to do that anymore.
I do find some days hard though, where I feel like rubbish and I still have to come in and work in my store. Occasionally customers have mentioned my cough, but it hasn’t been too much of a problem. I have an employee working for me too, so I have someone to cover for holidays, “tune-ups”, and if I really can’t make it in.
It can be a bit daunting having all this responsibility. Essentially, how well the shop goes is up to me and how much effort and work I put into it. And when you make something you enjoy for fun your job, sometimes it doesn’t feel that fun anymore. That said, it’s way better having an awesome job with a few days that suck, than having a sucky job all the time! I’m pretty stoked about it all and luckily I like to work hard.
Do you have future plans for your business?
I want to expand the online part of my business and am just branching out into a little bit of menswear after having lots of customers request it.
I would also love to open another store in another regional spot like Broome i.e. a place I’d like to holiday! I am also planning to travel a little so I can source some more amazing garments for my store.
Interview from REDteen, 2014.