Boutique celebrates 35 years
One of the Peninsula's oldest fashion boutiques is celebrating its 35th anniversary from September 17 to 22.
It is 35 years since Mrs Olga Arkell took over Jodi of Umina.
"I can't remember my first sale, but one of my customers can," Ms Arkell said.
"You can ring her, but she is hard of hearing, so she might not be able to hear you."
The veteran store owner sat behind tightly packed racks of women's outfits, shortening a blouse sleeve.
"I carry this much stock to supply a comprehensive range in sizes eight to 26," Ms Arkell said.
Hats dressy enough for weddings and the Melbourne Cup preside over racks of tracksuits, costume jewellery, handbags, suits, swimsuits, blouses, dresses, skirts, trousers and sleepwear.
"I have to keep going with this... One of my customers wants it this afternoon," she said, pinning a cream floral blouse sleeve at her store's sewing machine and over locker.
"Customers can be fitted to wear an outfit within hours.
"I have seen so many fashions return... padded shoulders and mini skirts.
"Flared trousers and the fitted women's suit and stilettos too, but generally women's fashion is looser and more comfortable with stretch fabrics," she said, as she carefully guided her Bernina along.
"When I opened, women wore such fitted suits and dresses, they needed a side zipper to get into them," Ms Arkell said.
It was 1972 when, as a young married woman with five children, she bought a newly-opened boutique that had two owners in two years.
Ms Arkell said her children always helped her with her new enterprise.
Her daughter Jill Smeallie still works one day a week in the West St store.
Mrs Arkell's friend Dorothy McIntyre also does alterations Mrs Arkell said, as she brought out a birthday celebration brochure.
In her trademark fuchsia pink with Mary Quant flowers, it announced price reductions of 50 per cent for winter stock and 10 per cent for summer.
"I realise I'm fortunate, so I help charities by giving them a percentage from fashion parades.
"I think I owe my success and good health to keeping the mind and body active."
Christine Finlay, 28 Aug 2007