Thursday, 30 June 2011

Anne Bosman - Bellissima runs generations deep

I first heard about Anne by a complete accident. My boyfriend's friend from high school happens to be closely affiliated with Alberta Fashion Week and as a result we get to mingle and cross paths from time to time. She knew I wrote for the Bellissima blog and mentioned that her grandmother was employed by the company. I have been wanting to do an employee profile section on the blog for quite some time, but limited by time have yet to get around to it. Anne, however, was quite special: running 28 years, her employment is one of the longest if not THE longest run with the company. The most admirable? At 81 years old she is only now ready to take some time and focus on herself. This is my attempt to convey to all of you the hard work, dedication and amazing personality that is Anne Bosman. 
Going down memory lane, Anne reminisces about her first Bellissima Manager, Sophia. At 54 she was in search of a job, as a stay at home mum, the world of fashion excited her, she was ready to leave the nest, so to speak. When I speak with Anne there isn't much that makes us different, the love of clothes, and style itself transcends generations, and in Anne's case it has proven to be quite true. Fast forward 24 years and you see Anne's granddaughter Jacqueline completing the circle and helping organize Bellissima's first Alberta Fashion Week fashion show. It's quite amazing when you think about it, none of it was planned, all these women found their way towards Bellissima on their own terms. 

Anne remembers some of the prominent Bellissima locations to be Serena stores, something my young eye for fashion doesn't even remember. It is a great pleasure speaking with Mrs. Bosman, the stories and her points of view are refreshing, enthusiastic and more than anything, inspired. Today's world of retail is not the same as it was 20, even 10 years ago, globalization changed the way we make business, and so Anne's observations are quite valid when she points out the reason she loved working for Bellissima through all these years: the interactions between customers and the sales team as well as among the employees themselves. The atmosphere is tight knit, very family friendly, she says. 
As for her personal favourite experiences she singles out selling in the top spot. To Anne it wasn't about forced sales, but about establishing relationships. When bridesmaids came into the store in search for the perfect dress is when Anne felt most accomplished. Cruise season is her favourite time of year to watch for new pieces for her wardrobe, and of course the husbands accompanying the wives while shopping always provide for a lighter atmosphere, it's their view of fashion she finds unique, and at times mildly entertaining. 

After talking about the Bellissima customer, Anne believes that they have gotten younger, even Jacqueline found herself a stunner to wear to her high school graduation, and indeed upon walking into a Bellissima store you know you can find something for that special occasion. The diversity, however is what keeps the brand current. Bellissima, in Anne's eyes is an every season shop, customers who bought something for work will come again and buy something for a wedding or a party. Anne's biggest sale to date? $2,700, and it took the whole shift to get there. This kind of personalized shopping experience is what attracts the customer, after all Bellissima originated on the principal of close and personalized relationships. Before the age of the computers, the sales associates were expected to go home and call their customers on their own time and inform them of selections they might be interested in. This, overtime, has translated to our mailing lists and customer loyalty programs that offer discounts and special promotions. As far as getting adjusted to the computers? Anne was never interested in that, she would be encouraged to stay on the floor and leave ringing though the final purchase to somebody else. 
Anne has seen many changes over almost 3 decades with the Bellissima brand, one thing for sure stays the same, the quality and the brand promise to exceed all your expectations. Anne has gone a far distance from the girl with ten siblings, from a Saskatchewan Farm, where clothes and fashion were not an accessible commodity to a brand staple and a woman who inspires us all, and most importantly inspires our love of fashion. 

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