Nicole Birch is the brilliant mind and beautiful face of Studio 11 Orillia– a women’s fashion boutique located in Downtown Orillia. If you’ve visited the shop, you’ve seen her before! But how well do you really know this fierce local lady?
This week, I called Nicole (long distance friendship life) and we had a bit of a chat about fashion, business, and life!
Q. What’s behind your passion for fashion?
Nicole: Fashion has really been something I’ve loved and been interested in ever since I was young. I saved up all my allowance every week to go shopping and buy something new to wear to school. When I got older, my mom asked me what my favourite thing to do was, and I said shopping. Together we found some career options that suited me best. From there, I decided to attend college for Fashion Business. It enabled me to really put my passion into action career-wise.
Q. Do you remember what your favourite outfit was as a child?
Nicole: Northern Getaway tracksuit!
Q. How would you describe your personal style?
Nicole: Modern chic! I follow trends, switch up my wardrobe every season, and like funky pieces. I like to dress different – I am not afraid of pattern and I love colour.
Q. And how would you describe the general vibe/style of the shop?
Nicole: I would say the shop style is chic and unique. I think it’s trendy and on par with what you’re seeing in the malls, but making it different! We keep comfort in mind as well. We only order 4 units of each piece so you’re not going to see everyone walking down the street wearing the same thing – we really want to help people embrace uniqueness.
Q. What are some of your favourite brands that we carry in the shop?
Nicole: Free People is my number one. They’re different, not afraid of colour, their patterns are really fun, and the quality is totally there. Z Supply is also one of my favourites because I’m definitely a comfy-casual girl. I really love their sweaters. The quality is also excellent with this brand, too!
Q. Tell me a bit about your background when it comes to fashion, merchandising, and owning a business!
Nicole: I went to Seneca College for Fashion Business. We studied everything from entrepreneurship and buying to merchandising and the history of fashion. One of my classes involved actually running the retail store on campus. My program really touched on everything and enabled me to own & run my own business. My favourite part is connecting with people who come to visit the shop. I also really enjoy the buying side of things as well.
Q. What’s it like being a business owner in Orillia?
Nicole: Orillia is definitely a very supportive, community-based town. I find it very welcoming for new businesses to really help them thrive. Everyone wants to support everyone. It’s just good small town vibes all around.
Q. How do you strike a good work/life balance?
Nicole: I think a schedule is key! On days when I am prioritizing work, I focus on work. When my family needs me or when I am focusing on my daughter, I prioritize that which means turning off my work phone and knowing that the shop is taken care of. My advice leaning on friends and family when you can– it really does take a village to raise a little human! Setting boundaries is also crucial; anything can wait until the next day in retail.
Q. Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
Nicole: Do your research on your target market! Who are your customers or clients? It’s important to fill a gap as an entrepreneur. Find that gap and then fill it! You have to make sure that you’re different enough so that people really see you as something new.
That's all for this week! Thanks for reading and see you in the next one.