SNEAK PEEK: A touch of Byron Bay for Zest Boutique
WHETHER it be cyclones, flash floods, the Global Financial Crisis or most recently a burst ceiling pipe, Karen Neale has braved it all.
Now in her seventh year of business at Zest Boutique, the owner has revamped the store as the height of the spring fashion season gets out the gates.
Karen explained the shop now invoked a Byron Bay, Noosa-style feel, but the new look came completely out of the blue.
"We had a burst pipe in the ceiling,” she said.
"Now we have a new ceiling and floors, new products and new shelves... the whole lot is new.”
In the space of a week, Choices by Campbells redid the floors and Karl Coina the ceiling, and Karen couldn't be more happy to be back in business, tending to locals spring racing and wedding needs.
Karen said the teams did an incredible job, and since the doors reopened she had been flat out.
She attributed much of the business' success to her loyal local client base, but said she always loved to see return visitors, particularly as the tourism season picked up.
"We get the grey nomads come back each year,” she said. "I love seeing them come back, I might not remember their name, but I remember their story.”
She said despite the blows over the years, she had no trouble braving it in business for the sake of doing something she loved.
"It's not about the money for me, it's about dressing people up... it's like have real-life Barbie dolls,” she said.
"And I love that everyone loves it (the store).”
Of the products she stocks, Karen said you would be pressed to find a dress for more than $200, and she stocked everything from casual wear to ball gowns - some of which featured at the recent Pinefest Ball.
"It's high-quality clothing, and affordable, on-trend fashion,” she said.
One of the outfits won in Callaghan Park's St Peter's Caulfield Cup Fashions on the Field in recent weeks.
On a global scale, Karen said fashion publications Vogue Europe and Wish Australia had given some of their looks attention on social media, which had the boutique in a buzz.
Also in the pipeline for the business is the potential to stock Marc Bale watches, of thepeachbox.com fame.