Gene and Fee Kirkpatrick
By Local Matters
After finding a niche market online, family-owned business Shine On opened a flagship retail outlet in Whangaparaoa this month.
Gene and Fee Kirkpatrick admit they got into the fashion business almost by accident.
Although Fee has worked in retail, she trained as a social worker and Gene is a graphic designer.
“When I was at home with our first son Elijah, I started selling vintage clothing online,” Fee says. “I built up a following and it just got busier and busier.
“We now have our own website and around 33,000 social media followers.”
The move online meant expanding the range of clothes Shine On was offering, but that was easier said that done.
Gene says a lot of suppliers were wary about working with an online store only.
“But we did find a few suppliers who had faith in us and the business has continued to grow.”
Fee says the clothing she sells targets women, particularly mothers, who want to be comfortable, stylish and fashionable.
“I know from experience that once you have a ‘mummy tummy’ you don’t want dresses and skirts that are too short or t-shirts and pants that are too tight.
“Over the years more companies have become involved and this has lead to some interesting collaborations.”
Fee says one of the reasons she and Gene have had the confidence to open a retail store has been the involvement of her brother Cliff Hopkins, who is himself a successful businessman.
“Cliff has become our mentor and has helped us to fine tune the business. He’s a great sounding board and calms me down when I think something’s gone wrong.”
Gene and Fee, who now have two sons, say creating a family-friendly environment in the workplace has been important to them, as well as being customer-focused.
The couple believe the store will bridge the gap for a lot of their potential customers who are still wary of shopping online.
The new store will also carry new and different brands, handbags and shoes, jewellery and small gifts.