A Chat with Fashion Designer & Business Woman Christine Alcalay Hazil Studios

A Chat with Fashion Designer & Business Woman Christine Alcalay

Christine Alcalay is a New York City based force to be reckoned with in the fashion world. Her designs are bold, authentic, feminine, and powerful - all words that can be used to describe her personally as well. Recently, I had the opportunity to connect with Christine and learn more about her journey as a business woman and how she runs her stores, both in-person and online. The results? She shared insights that are as invaluable as they are inspirational.   

What made you decide to use Shopify as the platform for Kiwi & Fig’s online presence?

I used Shopify for my CHRISTINE ALCALAY website and found it to be very easy to use. I needed to integrate my POS to an online store, and it felt like the best option. Using third party services proved to be problematic for real time inventory and many times double the work. With Shopify I can plan and work on a platform that keeps all of my sales channels in one place. 

Do you feel that having established brick and mortar stores in New York City made the transition to selling online easier? Can you explain why or why not?

No, I actually don’t think it’s easier. The part that does make it easier is that the customers that already shop in our store will go on our site to look at our new arrivals and see what’s available. Even when customers move away they still then shop on our site. We still find it a challenge to get new traffic on our site, but we still haven’t invested on getting traffic either. I’m excited for that prospect once we get the site to a place that feels good. 

Are your stores' presence in New York City inextricably tied to your brand, or do you feel the fashions you sell on Kiwi & Fig transcend a geographic location?

Our shops are neighborhood shops, really catered and intimate towards the Park Slope neighborhood and the lifestyle of the people who are in the neighborhood. But it does transcend beyond that because we focus on modern classics with personality, and that it is not limited to our geographic sphere.

Have you noticed a pattern of in-person shoppers being converted to online shoppers or vice versa? Or, generally speaking, are the online and in-person shoppers two distinct and separate groups?

For us, they are the same group. Sometimes our in person shoppers will think about things and then buy it online. Or vise-versa, our online shoppers want to investigate how the pieces feel and fit and then come into the shop.

If entrepreneurs have the opportunity, would you recommend opening a brick and mortar location in addition to selling on Shopify? How has the combination of Shopify and brick and mortars added to your own success as a business woman?

I think when it comes to purchasing clothing, it is important to touch and feel. The online experience is very different from a physical space. The challenge online is always how the integrity and soul of the business can be translated. When it comes to things in an actual space and creating an environment there is the level of customer service and experience that cannot be created online yet. It is about the senses, the experience, and most of all the human connections and interactions. Without these essential parts of the business, I’m not sure I would want to continue. 

How do you define success in the eCommerce world? Does that differ for you personally as a business owner vs. how you see success for your business?

I’ve been a real world person, but I also love technology and new advances in it. When looking at eCommerce, I look at it as a tool to further extend the reach of the four walls of the shops. The real world has extended into parts of imagination that are virtual. It’s very clear that not only eCommerce but the future of technology will change how we do things. I look forward to using these tools to further grow what we already built.

If you could go back to you at the beginning of your Shopify and eCommerce journey, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

If I could go back, I would have started with Shopify as POS, but I was also waiting for Shopify to beef up their POS side. Alignment of inventory and streamlining our channels is something I would have done if it was possible. I encourage those who have small retail business to streamline this aspect.

Thank you so much to Christine for taking the time to sit down with us and share her story! Check out her designs at Christine Alcalay, Kiwi & Fig, or stopping by her stores in Brooklyn, NY. 

If you'd like to work with Hazil Studios on your own Shopify store, contact us here!

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