Mother and daughter team Melanie Rodrigo and Ashleigh Kennedy put their own stamp on a “Pako institution” when they took over Sas Designs.
Melanie takes a little time out of her busy schedule as Mother’s Day approaches to chat about her time in Pako.
Tell us about yourself.
We are originally from Melbourne and moved to Jan Juc when the children were very young. Ashleigh now lives in Armstrong Creek and my son Sean lives in London.
I oversee Sas Designs on a day-to-day basis and Ashleigh is responsible for our new online store and she assists with buying.
What makes your store different to others in Pakington Street and Geelong?
At Sas Designs we stock gifts for all occasions, our stock is quite diverse and new stock arrives weekly.
Ashleigh and I source beautiful items, that we would like to give as a gift and fashion we love to wear.
What are the most important things you look for in a product?
Every item in our store has to be beautifully designed and of high quality. Affordability also plays a big part when we source items.
Where does your passion for your work come from?
Both Ashleigh and I have worked in retail for too many years to admit. We enjoy the creative aspect of merchandising and displays and the practical day-to-day running of our little shop.
How long has your store been open and how have you enjoyed working there?
Sas Designs is a bit of an institution in Newtown.
We have owned the shop for the past two years, but it was a favorite of ours long before that.
We enjoy working together as a mother daughter team and bouncing ideas of each other in regard to what we want to stock and the look of the shop.
We want to make it a relaxed and inspiring environment for anyone who wants to come and shop or browse.
What got you into the business?
We had always spoken about owning our own shop and wanted a change from the retail jobs we had. It was good timing that we found Sas.
We knew we wanted to stock items that hadn’t been seen in Geelong before and showcase some of the areas new design talents.
How has the lead-up to Mother’s Day been like this year?
We love the lead up to Mothers Day. It’s so much fun helping our lovely customers find the perfect gift for their Mum.
We have been busy so far with lots of new arrivals specifically for Mothers Day like Limited Edition candles, spa products and cute socks.
What do you love about Packington Street?
Finding the right business for us was the first decider, but we knew we always wanted to be in this location.
The village atmosphere and independent retailers offering an alternative to the big chain stores was the obvious place for us to be.
What changes did you make when you took over the store?
We initially made a few changes to the existing model by including more fashion and accessories, brands like Humidiity clothing and Pure Folly accessories, but we kept all the customer favourites that had made Sas Designs a popular place to shop.
We definitely wanted to put our stamp on our little shop.
After a full year of planning we are particularly excited to launch our online store this month, which will have our most popular items and some exclusive to online items as well. Plus we still do our gorgeous gift wrapping for online presents too.
Do you have any new products coming in?
Our winter clothing ranges are instore now, our range of Birdie Cashmere knits have proved to be a customer favourite.
And ranges like Liberte jewellery and our Elms and King handbags have new styles arriving monthly.
How do you like to get involved in the local community?
This year we designed in-house a range of birthday cards.
We donate $1 from the purchase price of each card to The Barwon Health – Andrew Love Cancer Centre.
It has been so well received by our customers that we hope to expand the range next year.
Who would you like to have dinner with, alive or dead?
There are a few people I would like to have dinner with. People from fashion, art and music. But you can’t beat a big noisy family dinner!
Tell us something about you that people may not know.
I spend what spare time I have training in Brazilian Jujitsu and Ashleigh continues her creative pursuits as a photographer.