A lovely new store that has very quickly become a favourite of North Shore fashion lovers is Chantal’s Boutique on The Promenade, right opposite the entrance to the Bruce Mason Centre. This whole building has undergone some impressive renovation in recent times with some lovely retail and showroom (as well as office) spaces created. Chantal’s is in one lovely space and the Art By The Sea Gallery has recently relocated to another. For this fashion feature we sat down with Chantal Chilcott, the lady behind the store and talked about business, fashion, Paula Ryan elegance, Trelise Cooper coats, why she loves the Shore…
CHANNEL MAG: You’ve created a very popular fashion business here in Takapuna with an impressive list of well-known fashion labels. When bringing on board a new label what are the key considerations to ensure they are a good fit for Chantal's?
CHANTAL CHILCOTT: I get to know my customers, what they like and what their needs are. I then consider what clothing brand best fits my customer base. Often bringing on board a new label is based directly on customer requests for that specific brand. I am focussed on bringing in top quality designers that you don't generally find elsewhere on the Shore. Choosing designers who produce high quality clothing made from natural fibres is also an important focus for me.
CM: Do you personally pick the items from the supplier to stock in your store?
CC: Yes, every item in the store is personally picked by me. I visit each designer twice a year to choose from their summer and winter collections. I visit Trelise Cooper four times a year as they also have a spring and autumn collection.
CM: You launched your new store just before Covid took hold, but you have still created a vibrant and very popular store. What are the key things you have learnt since starting Chantal’s that have enabled you to refine things and clearly hit the right spot for local fashion customers?
CC: Given this is the first store I have owned, it has certainly been a steep learning curve. Learning what items sell and which ones don't, how many sizes of each item to buy, and what level of stock to hold, have all been part of my journey thus far. When we first opened, the store was equally balanced with clothing, furniture and homewares. Our focus has now shifted away from furniture and towards ensuring we offer exceptional quality fashion brands from New Zealand, Canada and Europe.
CM: What do you love about doing business in Takapuna and on the Shore?
CC: I have lived my entire life on the North Shore in Milford. I went to Carmel College and my two children attended Westlake Girls and Boys. I love the lifestyle the Shore brings, with the beautiful Takapuna beach just minutes from the doorstep of my shop. I love the Shore people, my loyal customers, and being part of the greater community.
CM: Who’s your favourite fashion designer and who’s clothing do you wear for special occasions?
CC: I love Paula Ryan for its elegant simplicity and amazing fabrics that last for many years and don't date. For special occasions I like to wear Trelise Cooper for its point of difference and femininity.
CM: Got some fashion tips for winter '21 for Channel Mag readers?
CC: Winter is all about feeling warm and cosy while looking stylish. New Zealand merino knitwear from Visage and Paula Ryan are winter staples, as are a pair of Vassalli pants. If you are going to invest in one fashion item this winter I would suggest a Trelise Cooper coat; everything about them is fabulous!
CM: When you are not working in your store what do you love to do?
CC: I go walking with my little dog Teddy every morning with a group of girlfriends from Milford Beach to the end of Takapuna Beach and then a coffee and chat at the local Takapuna Beach Cafe. I also love going to the movies at Bridgeway Theatre, having dinner in one of Takapuna's excellent restaurants and then stopping off for a real fruit ice cream at my favourite ice cream parlour, Scrunchy Millers in Milford. I'm also currently very much enjoying helping my daughter plan her wedding!
CM: Complete the following: When the world’s borders are fully open again I will be off to…
CC: ...Hawaii, for some R&R in the sun. Now that the the travel bubbles have opened I would like to head off to Sydney to visit my son, and Aitutaki with my partner for a winter get away.