How Bahaar Fashions Became an Online Studio With ShopHERE
Before pursuing her passion for fashion, Rosie Sehmbi worked as a pharmacy technician in a local hospital for 15 years. After having her third child, Rosie decided to quit her job and open a business for her soul, as she always enjoyed putting outfits together and matching them with accessories. “Staying home brought me this wonderful opportunity to become a business owner and working towards my passion has been absolutely lovely,” said Rosie.
Since 2015, Bahaar Fashions has been serving the GTA communities and providing affordable rates to their clients. Rosie sources her products directly from India by connecting with local female business owners. By working with other entrepreneurs, Rosie supports local businesswomen and provides them with their first orders. She explained: “I always look for women that are starting off with their venture and we work together. Having them for vendors and working with them is always very rewarding.” Through Bahaar Fashions, everyone has a personal stylist for any special occasion!
Rosie Sehmbi’s little home studio stopped welcoming her clients when COVID-19 hit, with no available space for social distancing. Her South Asian apparel business, Bahaar Fashions, searched for a new way to connect with her customers and the ShopHERE Program Powered by Google became the solution.
The business owner found the ShopHERE experience to be extremely useful as having an online store opened up more doors for Bahaar Fashions.
“The ShopHERE Program is a great platform that any business can use. Online will be the new and upcoming way of doing things in the future,” said Rosie.
Selling online has been important for Bahaar Fashions as peak business times, from April to August, have been extremely quiet due to COVID-19 this year. “Summer is the time for events, weddings and engagements and we cater to our clients with apparel and jewellery for those,” commented Rosie. “There was no income this summer due to cancelled weddings and other events.”
Having an e-commerce functionality creates new opportunities for Bahaar Fashions as clients can view apparel and accessories from the comfort of their homes. Customers can easily browse through multiple collections and numerous styles such as phulkari, chinnon, velvet, and banarsi. Bahaar Fashions also markets necklace sets, rings and earrings that clients can match to their outfits. If someone is interested in customized three-piece attire, Bahaar Fashions offers online appointments to discuss one’s vision and wishes. International shipping is also available for all items.
Rosie found her website to be a great organizational tool for controlling the stock: “I know exactly what's on hand and what needs to be ordered.” Rosie also highlighted her experience with her helpers who helped set up the website: “Jasmine and Priya were very professional and friendly. They knew exactly what to do and gave me feedback on everything from setting up to advertising the website.” As a result, the website has a functional layout with easy navigation to all the collections.
The potential for growth and attraction of new customers are the main reasons Rosie advises every small business to apply to the ShopHERE Program. She encourages entrepreneurs to stay optimistic and use the downtime to re-take product photos or learn more about advertising and promotion of their brand.
“These past few months have been very hard for many businesses due to COVID-19 but it will end. Our businesses will once again pick up and start to do well. I hope for a fresh beginning with my new website!”
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, and Yellow Pages.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19.