When Anne and I were in Phuket last year we went by a shop called “Wings by hejselbjerg”.
Because of the name we wondered whether it was a Danish shop and of course we had to go in and have a look to find out. We definitely didn’t regret that as it was an awesome boutique with so many wonderful things.
We met the owner of the shop, Mette Hejselbjerg, who is Danish. We started chatting and she was super nice and very helpful.
Anne and I were both very impressed with the boutique that Mette has established in Phuket and we asked her whether she would be interested in an interview for Away & Together as we would like to share her experience with all of you. She immediately agreed to that. Below is the outcome of the interview and we hope that you find it just as inspiring as we do.
When did you open your boutique “Wings by hejselbjerg” in Phuket?
The first Wings by hejselbjerg boutique was established in December 2013 as a shared shop. I ventured out on my own and opened two shops, one in Surin and another in Boat Avenue (Laguna) in September and October 2014.
In November 2015 I expanded my existing shop in Boat Avenue, and my third shop which is called Maniki was opened in Nov 2015.
How was the start-up process?
On the design side it was exciting. I chose an Australian artist to help design the shop. I was looking for an industrial look with wood and steel with a twist of a feminine touch.
It’s a complicated process to establish a business in Thailand, a lot of paperwork to submit.
Have you always known that you wanted to have your own boutique?
I’ve always liked the idea of having my own business or own company. Since I moved to Phuket with my husband and sons 4 years ago I quickly thought of having my own boutique selling my own label and all the clothes and accessories I love.
Do you design the clothes and accessories yourself? Where is it fabricated?
I design one of the labels, Hejselbjerg, which is a silk collection. The silk I personally handpick in China and I manufacture the clothes in Vietnam.
I also stock 6 other brands that are designed by other European designers and fabricated in Asia.
My accessory line is a combination of my own design and that of other designers.
Do you have a web shop?
I don’t have a webshop. I’m not a big fan of web shops and prefer the small boutique experience where you can see, feel and try on the clothes.
Why did you decide to open the shop in Asia and not Denmark?
For me it was obvious to pen my shops in Asia as I have lived in Asia since 2000. The first 6 years in Vietnam, that’s how I got my Vietnam factory connection. Then 5,5 years in Singapore and now 4 years in Phuket, Thailand.
There’s only one season, it’s always warm and there’s no need to design a fall/winther collection each year. Having said that I still have to make a new collection at least 3 times a year and I have new stock from most of our labels we carry – every month.
Last it would be difficult for me to look after a shop in Denmark at the same time as I’m living in Thailand.
What do you think the benefits (if any) are by opening a shop in Asia compared to Denmark?
Benefits of shop in Asia: It’s closer to the sourcing countries and apart from this it’s always warm sunny weather so it’s a one season proposition.
We know you have lived in both Denmark and Singapore. Do you consider opening a boutique in one of these countries? In the affirmative, would it be one more “Wings by hejselbjerg” or something different?
I’m considering Singapore and it would be a Wings by hejselbjerg boutique style.
How do you find the fashion trend in Singapore compared to Denmark? And how is it in Phuket?
I think Singapore definitely lacks small boutiques style areas. There are many huge shopping malls with lots of high end branded clothing shops. But only a few small shopping or shopping areas have boutiques with intersting styles and an individual touch. Copenhagen for example is a fashion destination, a mekka of many small boutiques, and it’s a dream come true for any customer looking for interesting smaller boutiques all located in areas with many cute boutiques. Many of these are hidden in small back streets or in small old courtyards.
There are two interesting areas in Phuket to go shopping where you will find smaller boutiques. These areas are Boat Avenue (where my flagship shop is) and Surin Plaza area where I also have a shop. This is where my first own shop is, it’s tiny, very cute with a personal touch. My love child.
What is your recommendation to people who dream about having their own shop but are afraid of taking the next step?
Firstly you got to love the idea of creating a shop and constantly innovating with new and exciting fashion designs and trends.
Secondly you got to be prepared for the many operational challenge with opening your own business. It involves everything from logistics, sourcing, staff, accounts, pr etc. And even though you have people to help you, you gotta get involved with it a lot yourself.
Last you gotta have the right location. Check the location really carefully. You can end up having a beautiful shop in the wrong location with no traffic (meaning no people popping by in the area). It’s also important that there are other good shops in the area, so it’s a shopping destination for customers.
Another recommendation is to make a realistic business plan, and if possible, have an investor or partner who can add recourses as well.
What is your biggest goal/dream for Wings by hejselbjerg?
My next big dream for Wings by hejselbjerg is to open a boutique in Singapore. I’m also interested in Dubai (kind of the same climate and there’s a large expat community).
Finally my very biggest dream would be to open a boutique in my all time favourite summer town, Hornbæk (Denmark) where I spend all my long summer vacations with my family.