When Tiffany Thomas started working at Poppie Clothing, it was completely casual.
A graduate of the School of Contemporary Dancers’ professional program, the 29-year-old Winnipegger was dancing for Jolene Bailie’s Gearshifting Performance Works and working part-time for Poppie.
Then, two years ago, Poppie’s previous owner decided to leave the business, offering the shop to Thomas.
Needless to say, it was a transition.
“I had a bit of an interest in fashion, but I was working in contemporary dance and there’s not a whole lot of crossover between that and small business ownership,” Thomas says during a sit-down interview in her small but comfortable 2-1724 Corydon Ave. store.
“Even fashion, as much as I had an interest in it, was definitely a transition from being a dancer and wearing sweatpants and a ponytail everyday to all of a sudden needing to be an expert on how to wear anything.”
Obviously there’s a change from one creative world to another, but there’s more similarity between the two worlds than one might think.
“Coming from a dance background you have to figure out how to understand someone’s character and embody that,” says Thomas, who still dances, just not as much since she took over the business.
“That’s part of my personal process, in fashion too, putting on people’s personalities and trying to understand how they can feel their best.”
In addition to offering trendy women’s fashions, including jewellery and accessories, Thomas says Poppie presents a high level of customer service.
“We’re obviously a bit more of a destination shop because we’re not on the main strip, but because the traffic isn’t as high, we’re really able to focus on our customers and develop relationships with them,” says Thomas, who adds her clientele ranges from 18 to 65, but is primarily made up of women in their 30s and 40s.
“A lot of them are working moms or career women or people who want to look good, but don’t necessarily have the time to shop all over the city. They want to come here and maybe even buy their whole spring wardrobe here. That’s what I like to do - work with people more one on one and help them find what they’re looking for, help them feel good.
“When you feel good about how you look I think you approach your work and your life differently. You have more confidence. I want my customers when they leave to not have to worry about their clothes and feel really prepared for life.”
Thomas says Poppie’s spring/summer line is currently coming in.
Keep up with Poppie’s latest fashion offerings on Facebook and at www.poppieclothing.ca.
Published in Volume 67, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 6, 2013)