Sofia Londero has worked with fashion and personal styling for a long time.
It's now 10 years since her first store opened in Balmain, and a lot has happened since then. She has becoma a mother, she moved the store to Rozelle, opened a second store, changed the product mix and fought her way through a global financial crisis, to name a few. Still going strong and more passionate than ever, mother and working business owner Sofia Londero shares her story and what inspires her to keep going, in this rare and exclusive interview.
1. What made you open your first Quirkee Birds store?
I grew up in Brisbane and a fond, vivid memory of my childhood was window shopping with my parents in Surfers Paradise. Surfers was a mecca for European clothing and homewares and I remember admiring all of these beautiful things whilst eating my chocolate and lemon gelato. I loved the textures and the unusual details of all the European clothing, and the creative merchandising in the windows. This was retail at its finest and I guess that fascination never left me.
When I opened Quirkee Birds, I had hit a crossroads in my career and I needed a change. I had been working for large corporations and I had become disillusioned. I ended up going back to my roots in retail. I had started my working career as a business manager for MYER in my early twenties. My desire to impress the customer through creativity never faded and I found myself back in retail again but this time it was all mine."
2. Which were the first labels you had in store?
"Some of the labels that we’ve had since the beginning are Johnny Was, Odd Molly, Desigual, Nolita, American Vintage and Hudson."
3. What has changed since your business began 10 years ago?
"The name has changed from Sofia Londero to Quirkee Birds, and today we are two stores instead of one. Style-wise we’ve shifted towards more colour and eclectic-bohemian."
4. Name a thing or two that you think has contributed to making Quirkee Birds so popular and loved?
"A passion to make people look good, which begins with my selection of labels and the individual garments to the staff putting them onto customers. All my employees are passionate about helping customers look and feel good, and each and everyone of them are very hard workers. We all constantly work to entertain and engage customers through our merchandising, product mix and through our personalities. We love to have fun."
5. What is one thing you have learnt about yourself running your own business?
"That I am very good at choosing talented people that make me look good."
6. What inspires you?
"Many women find themselves a bit lost in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Their bodies change, their lives often change - divorces, kids move out, menopause, you name it. With that, many lose sight of their own style. They don’t know how to present themselves anymore. My passion and desire is to help them fulfil that."
"I believe that clothes are undervalued, they can completely change the way you feel about yourself and how others perceive you. I’ve had people in shock - even tears - of joy about how good they've look after I’ve dressed them. Seeing someone’s confidence level transform like that by helping them change the way they look, is truly amazing. This is why I do what I do."
7. What is your own favourite outfit right now?
"My Odd Molly maxi, it’s soft, it’s feminine, gives a beautiful shape and I feel confident in it!"
8. What about your stores are you most proud of?
"My team! They constantly try to deliver on my passion.
I’m also proud that we got through the GFC. A lot of retailers folded back then so I am especially proud and grateful that we made it through as well as we did, thanks to our customers and employees."
9. What do you look for when choosing labels for your stores?
"Quality. Point of difference. That it fits the store’s eclectic style.
And I go with my gut, which has served me well to date!"
10. One of your favourite pieces currently in store and why?
"The Hemant & Nandita collection that is currently in the Bowral store. It’s like a bold take on Zimmermann. Their detail work is beautiful!"
11. What message would you like to tell women out there?
“Admire someone’s beauty without questioning your own."
"I love and believe in this so much I’ve had it hand painted at the entrance of the Rozelle store. A good reminder for all of us."
Would you like to be styled by Sofia or any of our talented stylists?
Welcome in store or call today to book an appointment!
We can't wait to take care of you! xx
02 9818 3100