From Law to Fashion: Anthea Solopotias, Owner of Ganache Boutique

In 2008, a woman named Anthea Solopotias opened a fashion boutique called “Ganache” on Bay Street in Port Melbourne. Her vision? To run a store which stocks the latest looks of the season from some of Australia’s best designers.  Late last year, Anthea made the decision to limit her store’s physical presence to “by appointment only”, opting to expand her fashion offerings Australia-wide launching an online store.

Leaving a 12-year career in property law to pursue her love for fashion, Anthea is an inspiration to anyone considering a career move into the fashion industry. Editor, Michelle Larin, caught up with this stylish and charismatic woman to talk about her boutique, industry experience, stint in fashion design and long-term fashion goals.

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Q: Tell me a bit about yourself, Anthea? Where did you grow up?

A: I love my life! I was born here in Melbourne but from the age of three until the age of fourteen I lived in Greece. I am Greek!

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion?

A: I worked in property law for twelve years.  I liked it, but I didn’t love it.  I resigned from the corporate world, took some time off and, during that break, realised I wanted to do something with fashion.  That’s when I decided to open up my boutique, Ganache, stocking labels I love wearing.  It’s almost like having another wardrobe for myself!

Q: Do you consider yourself a fashion entrepreneur?

A: Definitely. I opened the Ganache boutique at a time when retail was doing poorly. I survived and have now taken Ganache online and with a private showroom which is open by appointment only.  Most customers shop early in the morning or later in the afternoon and evening, so “by appointment” combined with online has proven a successful business model for me.  There is no room for comfort in retail.  Things change very fast and you have to be willing to adapt and take risks all the time.

Q: Do you think it is necessary to have a qualification to work in fashion, or is it enough if you are passionate and hard-working?

A: I think you a need a combination of passion, expert advice, good friends, family and, importantly, cashflow.

Q: What labels do you stock at the Ganache boutique?

A: I stock my favourite Australian labels: Alex Perry, Maticevski, Aurelio Costarella, Tim O’Connor and New Zealand label, Sabatini.  I also have a “Featured Designers” section where I select a couple of Australian designers to trial each season. I’m currently trialing LP33.3 and Story By Tang.

Q: How do you go about selecting the labels you stock in store? Do you use any particular selection criteria?

A: Basically, the criterion is if I love it, I can sell it.

Q: You appear to have formed a close relationship with designers Alex Perry and Toni Maticevski. What is it about these designers you like most?

A: I love that both Alex & Toni care about my customers.  Alex visits Ganache twice a year when the new season arrives for a VIP event and Toni has shown interest in holding a styling VIP event at my showroom. 

Q: Who is the "Ganache" woman? What does she desire in her clothing?

A: The Ganache woman has a taste for luxury and a keen eye for quality.

Q: Why did you decide to take Ganache online?

A:  The truth is, most of my customers had started purchasing my goods via my Facebook page, so it was clear to me there is a demand for online.  It also means I can offer my clothing to customers in any state and region in Australia - not just Melbourne.

Q: You have dabbled in fashion design, previously launching your own label.  Can you tell me more about it and why you stopped designing?

A: I had planned to start my own label two years after launching the boutique, which I did.  I worked with some fabulous people to put together my first collection, but I seemed to always find myself running behind.  I found it difficult to divide my time between the boutique and designing my own label.  In the end, I had to make a choice.  The boutique was making me money and the label wasn’t, so I put the label on hold.   I then focused my attention on launching the online store.  Now that’s done, I’m about to start another business with my sister, so the label will have to remain on the backburner for now.

Q: Can you tell me more about your new business venture?

I am very excited about this.  It’s a new bridal boutique.  Many brides frequent Ganache for their bridesmaids dresses and it shocked me to find out the amount of money young girls are spending on their dream bridal gown.  That’s all I have to say for now – I don’t want to give too much away!

Q: How would you define your personal style? Do you have a 'style muse'?

I can often be seen wearing relaxed pants, paired with a loose shirt, tailored blazer and Mui Mui’s on my feet. I don’t have a style muse as such, but I do have a fabulous stylist…my sister!

Q: What are your long term fashion goals?

I want fashion to be a lifestyle for me. I want to continue being the creative behind my boutique and label.  I also want to travel and use the experiences I have to inspire my work.

Anthea’s Top Picks from Ganache Online:

1. Monti Strapless Dress by Alex Perry

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