Vender of the Week: Celine Rita

Who: Celine Rita

Where: Auckland, New Zealand

Celine Rita is a boutique fashion label, with everything made in New Zealand. With the store opening only in November last year, Celine Rita is one of the newest arrivals to the same neighbourhood where Vend is headquartered. However, the incredible Celine Chapman has been wasting no time in making an impression on the locals with her beautiful and classic styles. Celine is a role model for all Generation Y kids: throwing herself into the world of retail technology only to leap from success to success. We had a quick chat with Celine about her journey so far and what she’s learnt along the way.

How did Celine Rita come about? 

How we got started is an interesting wee story. People always ask why ‘Rita’ – it’s my middle name, but also the name of my grandmother who was a dressmaker. I never meet her, but know I inherited more than just a middle name from her! Growing up, like many girly girls, I always had a love for fashion and design. I went on to study Fashion Design at the Auckland University of Technology. During university holidays I would would make-to-order pretty summer dresses for friends. It was a way for me to practice my pattern making and sewing skills, learn invaluable knowledge about fit and to get some extra money for my summer holidays.

After graduating from AUT in 2008, this part time hobby took a more serious turn, after organising a photo shoot to show off the new range of dresses. I had a casual fashion show, with my friends modelling, and had family and friends come along, bringing whoever they wanted. I took orders and measurements on the night and thought that would be that. However, after posting the photo shoot up on my personal Facebook page, the response was overwhelming and I was inundated with orders. I got a machinist on board to help keep up with demand. Very quickly I developed a long list of regular clients, who started to ask if I was doing a Winter range.

So in 2009 Celine Rita was officially launched. From day one I had an online store and business Facebook Page. I knew early on how much of an influence social media was going to have on my business, as it was a way to talk directly to my customers. An online store was always a necessity for me, and I love to keep updated with all the technologies that keep us ahead of the game, in all aspects of the business.

In 2010, Celine Rita took part in New Zealand Fashion Week’s New Generation show and won the New Generation Award. The same year I also opened up her Boutique / work room space in Auckland, where my loyal customers could come and purchase off the rack, as well as order their pieces. In 2011, Celine Rita debut our first solo show at New Zealand Fashion Week and from this, Celine Rita gained their first international stockist in Hong Kong!

Since then we have gained sponsorship from many well-known brands such as MAC, Rekorderlig, Stella Artois, Kim Crawford Wine and L’Oreal hair. In November 2013 I opened up our first retail store, in Auckland’s Newmarket. This was a big step in the growth of the business, and is proving to be the best thing we have ever done. Vend HQ has made this transition into retail, nowhere near as scary as it could have been!

What’s your source of inspiration? 

For me, beautiful clothing doesn’t have to follow every single trend or be taken too seriously. It’s very important that as Celine Rita grows and evolves, each piece remains effortless to wear and feels beautiful on from day one to one hundred. My aim is to make women feel effortlessly cool, and beautiful all at the same time. This is achieved through the careful selection of fabric, use of classic styles, clever necklines and perfect tailoring. Each garment is carefully designed to fit perfectly to a woman’s silhouette. I love bringing a sense of romance to each collection, with timeless silhouettes and playful colours.

With our new store, I want our customers to come into a little world of Celine Rita. We want to give them an experience, have them leaving happy (with a new outfit!) and off to tell their friends to come in. The CR girl is so important to us. My team and I love meeting our customers in store and helping them to get the perfect new outfit.

What brought you to Vend?

As previously mentioned, we opened up our first proper retail store at the end of last year. I have a very on to it brother who brought Vend HQ to my attention long before we were even considering opening up a shop. One look at the Vend Video and I knew it was perfect! The best thing was learning that this POS system worked in with my e-commerce site and my accounts system (Xero). Having all three integrated together makes life a lot easier.

Being a first time retailer is scary, and Vend was such a dream to work with. I lived on the support section while setting up. But for a fashion designer to set up Vend on her own, is really saying something about how simple it is to use! Several times I had to submit a request and they were so incredibly efficient and helpful.

I love that everything is so easy to keep track of – inventory of stock, our customer database and of course the sales. The information is so black and white, its right there for you to see anytime of the day. For example, how you’re getting on each day, week, month, and how well certain styles are selling.

How’ve you found the Loyalty system? 

At the moment we are still deciding the best way it can work, but our customers love that we can email the receipt to them, with their loyalty points showing. Having the customer database is invaluable. Our customers are everything, and we pride ourselves on really looking after them, with the system it is so easy to keep track of what they are buying and knowing what they will like in the future.

What lessons have you learnt along the way?

It seems weird me giving advice, as our beautiful little shop is only four months old, it’s usually me asking for everyone else’s advice!

However, it goes without saying, to definitely get Vend as your POS. You have no idea how much it will help you. Also, get amazing staff – not good, but amazing. After all they are representing your brand. My girls are incredible, and I trust them to give me honest feedback, so we can make it the best environment possible for our customers. And advice for those thinking about getting into retail- listen to your gut and go for it, don’t over think it or you will never go through with it.

– Celine Chapman, Fashion Designer / Rosé Lover, Celine Rita

Do you have an awesome success story that’ll help other Venders to win too? Share it with Grace and the 8,000-strong Vend community.


About Grace O'Hara

Grace is a Marketing Assistant at Vend and helps make cool things happen behind the scenes. She enjoys talking to incredible Vend retailers from around the world and making the world a better place with her side projects. You can get in touch with Grace by email or connect with her on Google+.