The Winner has been announced! Scroll to the bottom to find out if it's you!
I used to think that buying an unusual but thoughtful gift for a new baby or a child was near impossible until I discovered Stork’s Corner a few years ago. A beautiful shop for little people is adored by so many Perth mums and has a wonderful loyal following. And it’s no secret why they come back again and again and again: a combination of unique product lines, a great range to choose from and an owner who knows her customers by name. Yes, it’s a rare Perth gem where customer service is so high you’ll feel part of the family by the time you leave.
I had a chance to chat with Melissa Vajda, have a good look around and even sneak a peak at the sought-after kids’ party events run in-store (make sure to scroll to the bottom, you’ll be impressed!)
Mel, you opened Stork’s corner 6 years ago. Was it a realization of a long-term dream, a natural progression from a previous career or ‘jump-on and get wet’ scenario?
A combination of number 2 and 3! It was triggered by a relocation back home to Perth from Melbourne in 2009. My career until then had been in Buying and Product Development for big retail chains – Bras n Things and Kmart. I knew similar roles rarely existed in Perth, but that I wanted to keep working and ideally in the industry I loved – retail. So, opening my own store was the solution! Even with a Commerce degree and all the retail/buying experience that I had, starting my own business was still very much a ‘jump in and get wet’ situation!
Take us through a day in your life as a children’s fashion store owner
Like many other working Mums, no 2 days are the same! If I’m in the store, I drop the children at school, head to the store, try and make phone calls to suppliers over east before we open the doors. Then whilst we are open it’s all about the customer. If I’m not in the store I may be working from home on our Webstore, catching up on emails, placing stock orders, researching new products/brands, or have supplier buying appointments. I also spend one day a week sourcing and prepping items for our other business – Enchanted Garden Parties. And around all of that, I’m a mum to 3 beautiful children (10, 8 and 4.5), so you may find me on Kindy duty, a school excursion, and doing the mad dash of afternoon activities. And my husband is a Pilot, so anything is subject to change if his roster or shift changes – we use the word ‘standby’ a lot in our household!
Wow! There is busy, and then there is BUSY! What keeps you going and makes Stork’s corner such an outstanding retail business success? And what is your favourite experience as the owner?
I think a large part of our success comes from providing genuine, friendly, personalised service, together with a product range and brand assortment that you may expect from a bigger store/chain store. There aren’t many children’s stores that have a dedicated play area for children, bathroom facilities, lolly jar on the counter, free gift wrapping, and convenient parking at the door! Combine this with the fact we are the biggest stockist in WA of certain brands, like Rock Your Baby, and we hope to offer a shopping experience that exceeds customer expectations, and sees them return as a loyal shopper for years to come.
Favourite experience – I love hosting Events in store! Whether it is a new season launch, a new product launch, our Christmas VIP Shopping Night, or a Pop Up Sale event, they are always lots of fun and always have such a great sense of community to them! It also sets us apart from other children stores here in Perth – we are known for our instore events, we always reward customers with product giveaways, store gift vouchers, maybe chocolates or champagne! It’s a lovely way to establish relationships with customers and to thank them for supporting our business and shopping locally.
Do you have a favourite line or product that your store won’t be without?
Oh, there are so many! Our current favourites are the Sonny Angel Kewpie Dolls! Little Japanese figurines that are available in different ‘series’ where you can collect them all – quite addictive I must admit! But so very adorable!
A lot of our customers come to us to purchase newborn gifts, so the timeless pieces like bibs, dolls, muslin wraps or blankets are always in demand. The baby boom doesn’t seem to be slowing down, and there is such genuine joy in helping someone choose the perfect baby gift – it is such a special time for all involved.
* * *
Channeling my childhood dreams of tutus and tiaras and with wide-eyed excitement I caught a glimpse of Mel’s popular new venture. The store has become a kids’ birthday party venue earlier this year generating quite a buzz already. If you are planning a fairy princess gathering for your little one’s birthday – keep reading! The room itself is magical and comes complete with all the little extras that will absolutely delight your party crowd.
Where did the idea of your popular Enchanted Garden Parties come from? Tell us more about it!
It is something I have wanted to do for about 2 years now, so I am super excited that it is now a reality! Offering a party service as an extension to our well established retail store seemed to be the perfect fit. It allowed us to grow our customer base, and therefore grow our business. The beautiful mezzanine space upstairs was the perfect size for birthday parties and is a good utilization of the second level. I am also very lucky to have a niece who is a trained singer/dancer. She was very happy to take on the role of ‘Party Host’, and she does an amazing job! And also a girlfriend who is a school teacher, who helped me structure the correct games/songs/stories based on the themes and ages that we cater for. It may be all fairy dust on the surface, but rest assured behind the scenes, lots of time, research and planning goes into our parties, to ensure we deliver the perfect party experience!
Mel, looking back at your own experience as a successful entrepreneur what would you say to other women who are dreaming to open their own business?
I think there are many ways to answer this question! Part of me would say – just jump in and do it! The plan will follow later. Another side would say – do heaps of research, write a solid business plan, have measurable targets in place, have back up plans ready! My own experience was definitely a combination of the 2. What I would say is – make sure you have funds to back yourself, watch your cashflow like a hawk, and be prepared not to draw an income from your business for anywhere up to 3 years. The financial side of the business will be and should be a large part of your focus for the first few years. And personally, I could not have seen out the journey without my husband. A partner, close friend, family member, someone who understands your vision but is also a good sounding board, is a must.
What’s your vision for the future of stork’s corner?
This year has been about launching and establishing Enchanted Garden Parties. I see our next project about revisiting the E-commerce site and reviewing what potential that has. And a second retail store has been on the cards for a while now, so if the right location comes up, a second store would be a wonderful addition!
You can visit Stork’s corner at 11/47 McCoy St, Myaree (enter from Hulme Court). The new spring range is out now! And to get more information about the Enchanted Garden Parties visit www.storkscorner.com.au or contact Mel on (08) 6161 9123.
And now for the GIVE AWAY! The rules are simple: like both Onesies & Co and Stork’s Corner on FB and Instagram (@onesiesandco, @storkscorner) then post your favorite picture of your child/ren tagging #WinWithStorksAndO before 9pm Friday 7th August. We will pick a random winner to receive and $80 gift vouchers to spend in-store and a FREE portrait session & gift print from Onesies & Co!