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VOYAGE

Large department stores all around the world opened this year’s festive season with their new window displays. It is virtually impossible to imagine Moscow, New York and Milan without decorations in window displays of the main stores during Christmas and New Year season. It is as an essential part of winter holidays as Christmas markets, Christmas trees and skating rinks.
In Moscow window displays of TSUM take its customers to the world of fairy tales of different nations. Each of the 36 store windows are decorated accordingly to a specific story.
«Extremely arctic Christmas» is the theme of the window displays of Galeries Lafayette in Paris. The theme revolves around a story of a family of polar bears travelling through Lafayette looking for new home after having left the North Pole due to their ice floe melting.
However, window display decoration is not always directly connected to winter holidays. For instance, the windows of la Rinascente in Milan have been decorated in honor of the famous theatre La Scala and revolve around Puccini’s masterpiece – the opera Madama Butterfly.
Customers of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York find themselves on a fantastic trip to the Land of 1000 Delights. Window displays represent scenes of magical landscapes made of colorful sweets.

Evelinesmes

“Well cared woman always achieves everything the woman wearing greasy robe can not get”.

Evelina Khromtchenko

Diary

For already several seasons in a row, whenever I come to Brussels, I do my shopping at a great multibrand store Kure that offers trendy basic clothes by unhackneyed and rather affordable fashion brands. It just impossible to leave it without having bought something if you drop by – the store is packed with stylish clothes that fit well and are also budget-friendly. It would have never even crossed my mind that the owner and chief buyer of this cool project is only 31 years old!.. After having accidentally met Cyrielle Christiaens, I thought right away she was a perfect person to be featured in my heading #WomenInStyle, because her story completely disproves of all the pessimistic talk of major players that hint to crisis in fashion retail.

4 years ago then 27 years old blogger and PR agent Cyrielle Сhristiaens decided to open her own fashion multibrand store in Brussels. Without a moment’s thought Cyrielle persuaded her husband Maxime – popular young DJ in Belgium – drop his music business and join her venture: the couple sold their car, moved to a tiny less expensive apartment, borrowed money from parents and opened their first store in the trendiest shopping district of Brussels. The Kure store looks like it was made by the most expensive decorators, but turns out Maxime did all the renovations himself with the help of six workers – without any architects, foremen or designers. And decoration is the work of Cyrielle. As the result, the couple paid off all their debt after in one year, and at the moment Cyrielle and Maxime have got already two super stylish multibrand stores, successful online shop and their own consulting agency, that provides services of market promotion for new fashion brands. At the same time Cyrielle and Maxime are an exemplary couple and have been together for already 11 (!) years…

I made a post on my Instagram account with the photo of Cyrielle and proposed you to ask her questions yourself right below that photo. About work. About life. About clothing. About beauty secrets. About favorite places in her city. https://www.instagram.com/p/BL-qSMPD09B/?taken-by=evelinakhromtchenko I translated your questions in English and sent them to Cyrielle. Here are her answers to you – on the website Evelinakhromtchenko.com P.S. to all those who love to look for undermeaning and hidden causes of all things: I do not have a discount in Kure!

@evgeniyakokh: Which brands and why did Cyrielle choose for her boutique?
@panova_veronika98713688: What brands are being sold at this wonderful boutique?
@elenaliuliukina: Thank you for such a dazing story – everything is indeed in person’s hands and wishes! I am also interested in the brands the guys chose for their store.
@renatahergt: I also wonder about represented brands. And what education does Cyrielle have?
@catebelaya: Great information!!! Thank you, Evelina! What is the exact address of the boutique, what brands are represented?
Cyrielle: Kure boutique is located at Avenue Louise 78, 1050 Brussels, Belgium‬. We sell Joseph, Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang, Anine Bing, Won Hundred, J Brand, Samsoe Samsoe, Theory, Just Female, Designers Remix, Margaux Lonnberg, Maria Black, Can Pep Rey… We have more than 80 brands. From mid to high end. There are well-known and exclusive brands, local and international. Prices range from 50€ to 2000€.
I graduated from The University of Brussels. I have a Master Degree in Communication & Marketing. But more than that, I have been working as a shop assistant since the age of 17, it is there that I learned the job!

@iveronya: Could you please describe your clients? Who are they? Are they young girls or women? Are they fashionistas or people rather far from the fashion world?
@alsu_gaztdinova: Who are your customers? How do you select brands for your boutique?
@annanna.ru: How do you choose brands and clothes to be sold in your boutique?
Cyrielle: Instinct, crush and inspiration from what I see on Instagram, in the streets and on fashion icons. I don’t have a strategy for that, it’s essentially a gut feeling! I do not work with statistics. The main thing in my work is sales! My customers are active women from 22 till 65 years old. We have fashionistas, but also women working as doctors, lawyers, architectors who tend to follow classic style.

@fairyannys: What is a beautiful woman in your opinion?
Cyrielle: Someone who feels good in her body, who is confident and who has a strong personal style. Somebody like @gigihadid! She doesn’t really follow the rules of the trends. She creates her own style which is followed by so many fashion icons.

@svetlanaa_zakirova: Could it be true that there is a problem with nice affordable clothes in Brussels as well?
@ninnwin: Dear Cyrielle, could you please tell how you came to the idea of creating the Kure store? What had inspired you?
Cyrielle: I’ve been working in retail since I was 17. My life and customers are my inspiration. I wanted to start this project, because I couldn’t find the perfect store for me. As of now I can say there is a store with clothes that in my opinion fall in the category of “nice” ones in Brussels – I personally dress only in my store.

@piligrim_bijoux: I would really love to start a project connected to fashion industry. Where does one find suppliers?
@kochetschka: How did Cyrielle collect information for the boutique opening? Did she consult some agency or just searched on the Internet? How to find buyer’s information about places? How to start such business?
Cyrielle: My husband was already a sole trader, so most of the strict business part was already determined. We did not know anything about renting commercial places (price, etc..) and terms and conditions of collaborations with brands. We just jumped in, made mistakes and kept on learning. Internet is a good tool. Your own experience is the best tool.

@butaboutique: What makes your project successful in the first place?
@ismagulka: Evelina, you brought up a really good point that the majority of large clothing brands talk about crisis in the sphere, to say nothing of the small brands. In general, the market is just overflowing with different kind of (please forgive me) clothing crap. How come Cyrielle was not afraid to join this clothing mishmash with its giants offering apparel to satisfy all the wishes of their spoilt customers? And not simply to open a store, but prosper and develop! How did she manage to do that? Those kinds of examples are really inspiring! Thank you for this discovery!
Cyrielle: We run our stores and agency the way we would have liked others to run it if we were customers. We want everything we love at the same place. Then of course we work 7 days a week. We cannot stop working until it is perfect. We are always eager for more (for our customers). We feel like KURE is our boss if that makes sense.

@ya__siyana: Such an inspiring story! I want to ask about personal style. Cyrielle, do you have a large wardrobe? Do you prefer basic clothes? Do you have long-lived pieces, considering the fact that you have a possibility to change your wardrobe as often as you want to?
@lotusaqua4: What style appeals to you the most? What is fashion for you?
@Taavolirvag: How extensive is your wardrobe? How often do you buy new clothes? How do you get rid of unnecessary pieces in your wardrobe?
Cyrielle: I don’t have a huge wardrobe as I love timeless pieces like white silk shirt, perfect white t-shirt, high-waisted denim and black jumpsuits! I also sell all the clothes I don’t wear for the last 3 month, so my wardrobe is in constant evolution, but I don’t keep what I am not wearing (I sell those pieces on vestiairecollective.com for example). I shop new pieces every 3 days, it is vital for me, I am a fashion addict! But I have one rule: one new item in my wardrobe means one item has to leave, so I sell it.
I love to change my wardrobe every 6 months; it is also needed because I have to wear what is in store season after season (that’s the so cool part of the job!).

@mr_goodhope: Do you support young Russian designers? Is there any way for young designers to get on to the Kure shelves?
Cyrielle: I work with young designers like Raiine (@raiineraiine – Denmark), Margaux Lonnberg (@margauxlonnberg – France) and Can Pep Rey (@canpeprey – Belgium). I only promote young designers with whom I have special relations, whose collections are really commercial and quite affordable. They are now part of my Agency. I promote them in Belgium. The problem with Russian designers for us is customs and frightening costs (the customers will hardly follow +/- 40% increased prices).

@alsu_gaztdinova: What part of your work is the most enjoyable for you?
Cyrielle: To me – the end result, the customer’s reaction and happiness.
For my husband it’s the process: from building the shop, to marketing strategies and communication plans! I work on the field, he is at the office. It is clearly two different worlds.

@almagul_jas: Cyrielle, how do you manage to get around to everything: run a successful business and be an attentive wife?
Cyrielle: The thing is that I work with my husband so we have the chance to see each other during the day, even to have our lunchtime together. But we prioritize the quality time we can have together rather than long hours! Firstly, we are husband and wife, and only then business partners! But then it is of course an every day challenge and learning. We get better and better at balancing professional life vs private life.

@elenol_30: If your husband refused to be a partner in this project would have you still opened the boutique? How important is it to have a partner in business?
@lotusaqua4: How did you come to understand what you wanted to do in life?
@levitannushka: Was the store opening your old childhood dream? Or was it a sudden idea? What has helped you to take such a serious step?
Cyrielle: I have wanted to open my own store for already a while; this is why I have been working as a shop assistant since I was 17 and in fashion communication and fashion commerce since I was 24. My husband believed in me so much, that he pushed me to quit my job and start the company. I didn’t want to do it by myself, so he also quit his job (he was an independent music producer and DJ), and we created and launched everything together. Without him I would not have been where I am today, he is a genius in marketing and business! So I did it at the right time with the right people. It is important to have a reliable and trustful partner for any project.

@voropinovanatalia: Does this wonderful couple have children? If so, how do you manage to balance business and parenting? Thank you.
Cyrielle: We don’t have children yet, but we are working on it!! We just want to organize everything before and finally have a balanced life before adding a new member to our team! So maybe in 2017 or in 2018! I would be so happy to have a baby (girl :D).

@svetlana._vladimirovna._: What is the secret of your family happiness and mutual understanding? Such a great story when husband supported wife’s idea in spite of the fact that there were no guarantees of success… Usually it is quite the opposite.
@tatyanasoloveva08: Is being together for 11 years an achievement?
Cyrielle: Yes, we have been together for more then 10 years. The secret… I think that it’s the fact that we were young when we created KURE (27years old), so we were fearless and we had nothing to loose (except all our money of course!): no family, no cars, no apartment (as we sold everything to create KURE!). And we were so in love with each other, that it was the « you and me against the world babe, let’s do it » kind of philosophy! He is now as much impassionate as I am in fashion and in Kure! It is his second reason of living (me being the first one).

@paperclipsnoki: I would like to know how Cyrielle managed to persuade her husband to drop his own career for clothes stuff. My entourage does not believe that fashion culture has always proved itself in capable hands. What arguments did she have?
Cyrielle: It is actually him who wanted the most to do it. He loves to manage and help people attain their full potential. He was the one convincing me!

@julli_cat: How does it feel to work together with the husband? Does it help or distract? Do you have any free time for something besides your work?
Cyrielle: We love to work together. Your husband is the only person you can argue with but still have to live with, so you can never argue without finding the solution. We do not have much free time but we are working on it.

@natali_grach: Cyrielle, when you decided to open your first store, did you have a sense of fear within or desire to stop everything? Or was the urge to do what you love unconditional?
Cyrielle: I didn’t have fear, but this is a part of my character, I always go straight ahead without thinking too much when I believe in something! And I believed so much in our project that I wasn’t scared at all, the only risk was to loose all our money, but then I was like: «OK, if we fail, then we will leave everything behind, go in another country, my husband and I, and we will create something new by working hard, from scratch, as usual!»

@elenamarmileva_ps: Evelina, thank you for a great heading!!! This story is really inspiring. I would like to ask Cyrielle, if she had any doubts (if it was worth it, if it would work?) while her business was developing. And what helped her to rise above those thoughts.
@vinogradochka: Did you plan every detail before you opened this business? Or was it mostly based on intuition? Were you afraid it would «suddenly fail»?
@iveronya: Have you ever had any thoughts that nothing would work and the project would fail? And what did you feel when the boutique was ready to open? Do you remember your first client?

Cyrielle: I always aim for the best, but prepare for the worst. I did not think we’d be that successful, but I did not think about a possible failure either back then. We have put all our energy and money in that project, but have still been very cautious to always be able to fulfill all our obligations (no employee at the start, no unnecessary spending etc…)
I didn’t plan anything! We decided to create the concept in June, and we opened it in September, so just two months after! It was an instinctive decision, instinctive brands choices, a gut feeling! I wasn’t scared to fail as I believed so much in what we were creating, I felt it would work, but I couldn’t imagine opening a store on the famous Avenue Louise just 3‬ years later. That’s like living in a dream!
I loved the first day and was very excited. I couldn’t sleep for 2 months (one before the opening, one after). My first client was my mother in law. I remember everything about the first purchase. I tend to remember all my clients also.

@beauty13i: Do they make clothes themselves?
@iveronya: What are your plans for the next 5 years?
@lotusaqua4: How do you see the future of Kure?
Cyrielle: Launching our own brand. I do not plan too much as I feel the market is always changing. We will launch new thing, when we have opportunities, right time, right people, right place. My husband is working on a real estate. We have always launched everything super quickly (first store in 2 months, agency in 3 days, second store in 1,5 months) and have never waited after getting a new idea.

@mumsworkmoscow: What styles and trends you are going to choose to order for your store the next season? What do you think will be most trendy (maybe you could provide some examples)?
@la_divina_russa: Hi, Cyrielle! Could u please give some advice about basic clothes for upcoming spring and summer 2017? Better without high heels!
Cyrielle: Hey! I always recommend a nice oversized white silk shirt with blue mom-jeans and loafers like Gucci’s or Senso. For Spring-Summer 2017 the 1990-th denim items are so IN! Like mom-jeans, cropped flare jeans (J-brand #selenaseason) and renewal Levi’s. The soft pink is also really present: in oversized bomber jackets, loose fit knits and… velvet boots! Denim mini skirt is back along with cropped shirt and ruffles! We also have lots of culottes pants, it’s really fashionable! For shoes, flats are the winners, and for jewelry we are focused on the «grungy yet chic» style of Maria Black jewels @mariablackjewellery.

@gpforgrandprix: Have you always had desire to sell clothes? Or you just wanted to sell something, and then decided what it would be in particular? Did you have a choice between the opening of a fashion and cosmetic boutique or a coffee shop, for example? Does buyer take in consideration only his personal taste? Or you have to compromise?
Cyrielle: I have always wanted to create my ready-to-wear line, and we are working on it now. I love selling as much as creating. I have always wanted to be in fashion retail. We only follow our own taste, but we have to make compromise sometimes. We cannot sell everything – only what we love. We try to never step away from this.

@victoriastetsko: What is the address of the online store?
Cyrielle: http://kure-eshop.com/

@irynavlasiuk: Dear Cyrielle, being a young woman that has just started my career in fashion as a distribution manager and is looking to start an own fashion store, I would like to know what are the top 5 things that identify the success of the fashion store?
Cyrielle: Selling is the most important aspect of the job. Getting new customers and bringing back happy customers are also the keys. I’d also say, after the recent events (terrorist attack in Belgium): being able to adapt yourself, to reach your target even if everything around you collapses. A strong and logic artistic direction is of course what you need. And also our store does not do huge sales and discounts all the time during the year – for us it is a sign of being successful.

@ksenechkamix: Do you need any employees in the store? What are the requirements?
Cyrielle: We have 12 employees now. We are asking from them to be multi-lingual (French, Netherland and English), to have great skills in selling and to have knowledge about fashion and brands. All our employees actually have university degree.

@velikanovar: Very interesting story, thank you for sharing, it is very inspiring! Cyrielle, what difficulties did you meet on the way and how did you manage them?
Cyrielle: We have had a lot. When you own a business like this, everything can be a difficulty: «unnecessary» competition, bad political choices in the country, employees, etc… Every day is an amazing challenge. What we have learnt: never answer directly, wait 24 hours after something or someone creates a problem so you can solve it the right way.

@vvickyvv: How did they promote the store? What kind of advertising channel was more effective? And also, how do they find new designers that are not well known.
Cyrielle: We never pay for advertisements. Instagram is really helpful to find international customers and Facebook – local customers. We find new brands mostly on the internet.

@azau13: What was the most difficult part in the development and establishment of the store?
Cyrielle: I’d say none. The development is an easy part. You spend money and you do not have to worry about selling yet. The hard part is to sell and keep the business successful.

@mrs.rima: Dear Cyrielle, do you have any plans to expand your business and open new stores in other countries, in Russia for instance?
Cyrielle: We want to launch our own line of RTW and improve our real estate portfolio. I have never been in Russia yet. I only plan to start new business in places I know everything about.

@azau13: I live in a small Belgian city of Ypres and I have no desire to move to the bigger city. What directions are the most profitable to start a business in small provincial towns now? How to get rid of the fear called “crisis”?
Cyrielle: Do not move to a big city if you do not feel it. Your own place of living is most probably the best place for you to start from. You already know your future customers, their habits; you know where you should be and how to promote to reach your target.
Small town doesn’t specially mean small business: you most probably do not have competitor nearby you, you can attract people on social media etc…
I was born during the crisis; I do not know what it is like to work in an environment where everyone is successful. I’d say the crisis is an opportunity for some and too hard to cope with for others.
During crisis the only project being successful is the «perfect» one. You have to sell the right product, the right way at the right place with the right communication etc…

@lucky_daily_shu: What small private shops should use in order to have competitive advantage against large and powerful companies?
Cyrielle: To be unique is the key. If customers can not find the same experience elsewhere they will want to come back and stick with you.

Ask Evelina


Q«Hello, Evelina! I’m 42 years old, 153 cm height. I have doubts about buying a fur coat. It’s either a mink coat or an broartail coat. My height is not high, my size is miniature (42). What variant and what design should I choose for individual tailoring in order not to make a mistake? Thank you very much.», Lana, modniy.tv site user

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