For this week’s Behind the Counter feature, we’d like to put the spotlight on D.A.Y Boutique, a retailer that sells Scandi-inspired clothing and accessories from all over the world, along with a curated selection of local independent brands and designers from South London.
“D.A.Y” which stands for Disha, Apee, and Yukti — the names of the 3 sisters who founded the business — offers a handpicked selection of under-the-radar brands that are affordable, sustainable, and unique.
The trio work hard to create a warm and welcoming shopping atmosphere where customers know they can get timeless and trans-seasonal styling advice.
We recently caught up with Apee to find out more about the journey of D.A.Y Boutique and how Vend has made a difference in the store from day one. Here’s what she shared with us:
How did D.A.Y Boutique start?
The fashion element has always been in our family.
I come from a background in marketing and research, while Disha has a background in buying and styling — she used to work for Net-a-Porter and Ted Baker. Yukti was working in the government but had a passion and hobby for jewellery.
How did D.A.Y Boutique start? I was shopping in the boutique that existed before it was ours! I was a regular customer and got to know the woman running store. She was moving away from London, and I was looking for a new opportunity. Everything just aligned in the heavens and we took over the lease of the store and rebranded!
We kept some of the brands and brought on some new ones we personally love and it evolved from there. We wanted a space of our own because we wanted to be around customers and create an experience.
Our parents ran a shop so we grew up in a retail environment — we were essentially raised in a shop around customers. I feel like that also contributed quite a lot to taking the leap with the store and wanting a physical space rather than just doing something online or working individually in fashion.
Can you describe the D.A.Y Boutique brand and tell me about what you do?
D.A.Y is very Scandi inspired. What that means to us is that it’s fashion for everybody across all age groups and genders. We have a kids range, menswear, womenswear. We want everybody to feel like it’s accessible.
On a personal level, the Scandi style suits us. It’s the brands that we love to wear, very clean and timeless styles that have detail and an edge to them. We want people to come here and invest in a piece and Scandinavian brands do that really well, you will want to wear the same piece years down the line — it’s not fast fashion.
That was really important to the three of us because we all have different figures and are in different places of our lives. We wanted brands that were catered for everybody, not just following trends. That is the theme behind our Scandi-inspired store.
We also work with a lot of independent designers in South East London. It’s really important for us to contribute to the community and there is a big art and fashion vibe in Peckham. We do quite a lot of pop-ups with local and independent designers, and host brands from South East London. We run events where people can meet local makers and designers. People really love that, they like to know where a brand came from and what the inspiration was for the brand.
We’re also entrepreneurs and want to have entrepreneurs in the store. We like to stock brands that you can’t find anywhere else and are very specific to our community. So we balance the Scandi-inspiration with independent South London brands, which has worked really well for us. It keeps it quite dynamic and the elements definitely connect with us and our local community.
What drives your passion for running a retail store?
Being part of a community and having a strong interest in fashion and independent brands is a huge driver for us.
All three of us have lived in different countries and found you really get to know a culture, local people, vibe, and community through their independent stores. Living in South East London increased our passion for opening a store because we wanted to be part of the community. It’s not about just being a shop, it’s about being a space for the community.
Most of our customers are locals, they really support us and the community by shopping small — that’s their way of life in South East London and that passion is growing and growing. We feel like the people here want us to succeed. It’s quite special to have that in a community. The special community vibe here drove us to believe in the shop.
Do you think consumers are growing more aware of the pitfalls of fast-fashion? How does this affect your boutique?
That’s a big part of what is happening in London. People are realising that by consuming ethically they support their local community and independent shops, which will only exist if consumers shop there.
If you go into a big chain store on the High Street you’re not going to have the same type of experience. you’re not going to get any type of experience. You’re buying something that will only be on trend for a few weeks, then suddenly everything will be different in the store. You end up wondering, how is that possible? And why would you invest in anything that doesn’t longer than one season?
People are starting to realise what’s happening and down the line someone is paying the high-cost of fast-fashion. It’s cheap because workers are not being treated well or paid properly. But fast-fashion is not going to change overnight.
We love working with ethical and sustainable Scandi brand and feel confident to keep stocking them. Our consumers are asking us all the time about the fabrics, brand, how it was made. We’re more aware and our customers are growing more aware.
How important is customer experience and how you create an exceptional experience in D.A.Y Boutique?
It’s very important, I work full-time in the store. Personally, it’s been really important for me to understand the customer. It’s important to not lose touch and be present in the store enough to understand the way people shop and what they are looking for in a retail experience.
We now curate, pick brands, pick styles, and do our buying based on what we know about our customers. Everything is really thought about and curated for our customers, and that’s something only independents can do.
Disha is a stylist and offers that service in-store which is an important part of the customer experience. We often get people coming in saying. “We don’t know where to start, I just had a baby and need help” and we can offer that.
We also try on every single thing that we buy and get our partners to try on the menswear. Then we can give honest advice about how it fits. That’s been a really big thing for me because people want that, and expect it if you’re a small boutique.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt setting up a store? How has feedback from your customers influenced the business?
Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. You don’t have to have it all figured out at the beginning, not everything is going to be perfect. The customers like going on a journey with you, so while you need to have everything functioning and the right software in place, it doesn’t all have to be perfect. People like to see the changes happening in the store.
We used to have menswear and womenswear mixed in the store and then realised that men like to have their own space. So we created a men’s section out the back. That came from learning how people shop and engaging with our customers.
Now our men’s shoppers have increased so it’s really worked out for us. Listening to the feedback and asking customers what they want is key.
How did you hear about Vend and what were you looking for in a point of sale system?
Luckily, there are a lot of boutiques in the area so I literally did field research on my own. I’m not just saying this — a lot of people recommended Vend to us! We started off with iZettle’s point of sale system but needed a more thorough stock system, reporting, inventory management and so on. We were recommended to use Vend ePOS integrated with iZettle for payments.
As a researcher, I’m used to dashboards and doing lots of different combinations of reporting and sales reports. I wanted to be able to see what was working for us and quickly report on things like what brands were doing well.
I just love the reporting on Vend, it’s probably the feature I use the most. It’s just so thorough! You can do so many breakdowns and different reports. I also wanted a system I could use to send weekly and monthly reports to brands and suppliers, which is so professional and well-documented with Vend. I knew that if we were trying to manage the reporting ourselves it would be inevitable that we’d make mistakes.
What was the experience like getting started with Vend? How do you train staff on Vend?
We opted in for Vend’s services when we started which really helped. It was a bit challenging at the beginning because there was so much information, but Vend is really intuitive and we figured it out really quickly. It was really easy to teach my sisters and employee on how to upload products or run a report, everything is well-labeled so it’s easy to learn. Once you get it, you get it and it makes sense.
How do you use Vend’s promotional tools and gift cards?
Yes! When we launched the store we ran a 10% off everything promotion. It was really easy to set up. Using the discounting is also really easy, it’s great that you can do everything at the point of sale and it doesn’t take too long.
We introduced gift cards about four months into opening the store. I thought it would be really difficult to do, but it was so easy. We just turned it on and suddenly were selling gift cards!
How has Vend had an impact on your business?
Vend has made a huge difference in our business, especially with customer experience.
When we opened customers commented on how smooth everything was. They felt it was really professional, and that added to their experience. It made us feel like we really knew what we were doing and we had it together, even if inside it didn’t quite feel like that. Our customer experience was positive from day one because we had Vend.
We also love that it looks so nice, it’s not a big machine. And we didn’t end up spending a lot of time at the point of sale annoying customers. With Vend, we could put through sales really quickly. Plus, it looks quite nice when it comes up, which impresses the customers, and we could email customers their receipts, everything was in our stock system and it was easy to find. It’s a really nice slick system.
About Lucia Afanasy
Lucia joined Vend in New Zealand in 2017 before flying across the world to join the London team. She works on all things marketing across the UK, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Her passions and work experience include retail, production, and social media. When she’s not in the office, Lucia loves exploring London, planning trips, and trying to keep her plants alive.