For Megan Szanik, the road to success has been full of unexpected twists and turns. She didn’t always know where she would end up, but today she is a successful fashion boutique owner.
According to her loyal customers, it is because of Szanik positive attitude and business skills that she made a name for herself in the local Alberta fashion scene.
It was 1996 when a 21-year-old Szanik was first exposed to the reality of the fashion industry. She was attending an Action Sports Retailer expo. After seeing many famous fashion designers and artists such as Snoop Dogg and American Apparel creator, Dov Charney, she realized that fashion was so much more than selling clothes in Suzy Shier, which was where she had her first retail job and was introduced to the fashion industry and what it could offer.
“I’ve been in retail since I was 15 or 16 years old, I used to sell a lot of stir up pants,” Szanik laughs. She was inspired and saw how fashion could open up many other doors for her so, she began to push her own boundaries and pursue her dreams.
“My eyes got massive and I went, ‘this is what I want to do’, so I didn’t start in any normal way. I didn’t realize what a career in fashion could be,” Szanik said.
From that point on Szanik’s friends say she was a focused, determined worker. She ended-up living in Montréal and working for Triple 5 Soul, a clothing company just beginning to enter the Canadian market. The company found Szanik at a trade show and hired her to get sales from clients all around the world. According to Szanik, Triple 5 Soul was expecting to finish with about $500,000 in sales in their first season, but by the end of the season they were closer to $2 million in sales. This is just one example of how her positive attitude and intense perseverance has paid off.
“I really pushed and believed in the brand and when we believe in something and we come from that spot that’s when we can really go out and exceed those expectations,” Szanik said.
Szanik tries to make every interaction she has with customers meaningful at her shop located in Inglewood, near downtown Calgary. Espy offers designer brands that are offered in a range of sizes, colours and prices. Szanik’s business philosophy revolves around being in service to the community and giving her customers a level of care and respect they won’t get anywhere else.
Jennifer Barroll, a long-time friend and customer of Szanik, says that the biggest secret of her success is that she believes in herself and doesn’t think anything is impossible. Barroll has experienced Szanik’s motivation to help people first hand.
Barroll recalls a time when Szanik opened up her store after hours to give a one-on-one consultation with a customer who was struggling with low self-esteem and didn’t see the beauty in herself that everyone else saw.
“Megan met us at the back door with a glass of wine and in her very special way she without shame or without any awkwardness or hesitation; helped her look in the mirror for the first time in a year,” Barroll says.
According to Szanik, it’s experiences like this that keep the customers coming back. It’s true she’s not saving lives, but she does deliver a quality of care and compassion that people appreciate and remember.
One of Szanik’s employees, Alexandra Romaniuk, who has worked with Szanik for six years, agrees that Szanik is a “go getter” who has always maintained a strong passion for whatever she is working on.
“She’s pretty consistent, she always knows what she wants and she goes and gets it,” Romaniuk said.
Szanik plans to continue to follow her passion and hopes to expand stores all over Canada someday; giving customers a level of service and commitment they won’t find at a big box store.
“I’m happy to help in whatever way I can,” Szanik said. “And that might just be making your butt look cute in jeans.”
The Canadian Fashion Xperience is an expansion of Espy into Banff, but will carry a sportier men’s section and have a wide selection of outerwear. Szanik hopes to encourage the tourists to take home Canadian made and designed fashions.
“I really believe they should be taking home a piece of Canadian creativity rather than something that was made overseas, like a moose mug,” Szanik said.
The store is Szanik’s first big expansion of her Espy brand and someday she hopes to have an Espy in every large Canadian tourist destination and eventually promoting Canadian fashion worldwide.
The editor responsible for this article is Savaya Shinkaruk and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org