For many professionals, their winding career path is full of twists and turns. Rarely do people find their passion in their first part-time or after-school job – or even in their first job out of college.
Style Encore® franchisee Claudia Sophir, however, was one of the lucky ones that realized her passion and aptitude right away.
Ever since working as a sales associate in high school for a local clothing store, Claudia has spent her entire professional career in retail.
Now, she not only opened a retail business of her own for the first time, but also brought the first Style Encore to the Overland Park, Kansas/Kansas City, Missouri market and the first store to the state of Kansas.
An After-School Job that Set the Stage for a Successful Career
Unlike most other teens working part-time jobs, Claudia saw her first bout in retail as the first step in her career – an opportunity to hone her skills and begin building her professional life.
“Retail has always been something I’ve enjoyed and been good at,” Claudia said. “Soon after joining the team at my first retail job, I was promoted to be a keyholder, which was exciting for me because it meant more responsibility. I really liked that every day was different and that there were always new opportunities for growth.”
After graduating from the University of Missouri, Claudia went on to build several national retail store operations from the ground up, including her role as a district manager in Kansas and Missouri for the Old Navy Division of Gap. Soon after, she opened an Apple Store, serving as the store leader for nine years.
“I loved every position I had in retail, but after nearly a decade at Apple, I knew I was ready for something more,” Claudia said. “I simultaneously had an eBay store for my own items that I ran on the side as a hobby. I decided the resale segment was really where my passion was, and I wanted to own my own business, so I started researching resale franchises.”
Claudia came across Style Encore and fell in love with the brand.
“I really liked the fact that it made high-end designers and other big names more affordable for the community, as well as the sustainability and recycling aspect of resale clothing concepts,” Claudia said. “So, I went to a Discovery Day for the brand, and after seeing the extensive corporate support, I realized it was a business opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
Building a Team, Business – and Community
While she has a strong passion for the sustainable fashion she offers as a new Style Encore owner, Claudia is even more driven by her passion for people.
“I’ve always really enjoyed working with the public and getting to meet new people throughout the community, which is one of the main reasons I love retail so much,” Claudia said. “With Style Encore, I had already met so many new people from the community before even opening our doors because people kept coming in during the ‘open to buy’ period.”
Before the grand opening, franchisees with Style Encore and other Winmark® resale brands open up their store to the public, in order to buy quality used items and begin building inventory. Because of the sheer number of people who came into Claudia’s store, she had already accumulated nearly double the amount and value of inventory necessary for a successful grand opening.
“The response from the community has been absolutely amazing,” Claudia said. “Every day leading up to the grand opening, we were fielding calls and inquiries about when we were going to open, so we were very eager to get up and running.”
Beyond working with and serving community members with the store, Claudia’s passion for working with others also extends to her staff. She currently has a team of nine employees, each of which she is excited to mentor.
“Being a business owner was always my goal, and the opportunity to guide and mentor young women in their first retail job has also always been a dream of mine,” Claudia said. “I see a lot of myself in them.”
To learn more about Style Encore and other Winmark resale franchise brands, contact us today.