Fashion is full of dynastic families who prove that creative genius can flow from generation to generation. The newest name to join the ranks of Missoni, Jagger and Guinness could well be Maughan.
Tiffany Maughan spent her childhood immersed in a passion for styling, design and clothes. She grew up working in her mother’s clothes stores in Melbourne and obviously inherited her entrepreneurial flair for fashion, going on to open shops across Asia Pacific, in Sydney, Tokyo and now Singapore.
“Mum’s had fashion retail shops forever,” Tiffany enthuses, “and I’ve been working in fashion since I left school. I started off at Sportsgirl as a house model, and I learnt all aspects of the business: marketing, design, pattern making, advertising, merchandising and sales. It was the best learning curve.”
By the time the company was bought out, Tiffany had absorbed enough fashion know-how to join her mum’s business, and that’s when they started designing and doing a lot of buying overseas together. “I did a lot of travelling, going to China, America and England for inspiration and designs. We also hosted many fashion shows.”
It worked. Within a few years the house of Toppys had five stores around Melbourne – the makings of an empire!
Then marriage took Tiffany to Sydney, where she decided to go out on her own and open a shop in Bondi Junction. It was a great success, but she sold the business after just three years when her husband’s job in finance moved the couple to London.
“I sold the store, and when we got to London a contact at Sportsgirl put me in touch with a designer called Charlie Allen.”
Anyone who’s seriously contemplated a visit to London’s Savile Row will know of Charlie Allen’s work. In fact, any Brit who’s bought a suit in John Lewis or more recently from Asda’s George range will also be familiar with his styles. But for the uninitiated, Mr Allen is one of the top bespoke suit designers in London and has dressed everyone from the English football team to Prince.
“I became his assistant, working closely with him on a consignment for John Lewis. I got to go to a lot of the London fashion shows where so many of the people I’d looked up to were walking the runway. It was amazing.”
After four years in London, Tiffany, her husband and their new baby were relocated to Tokyo.
“Tokyo was great, it’s my favourite of the places I’ve lived in so far. The fashion is vibrant and my business really took off there. I started up a shop again because when I was pregnant with my second child people kept asking me where I bought my clothes. Nothing there fits Westerners, and I quickly realised that the expat market was in need of a good clothes store. So I went back to Australia, put a range together and started selling it from my living room.”
Six years into Japanese life, it was time to move again, so in 2007 the family, now comprising three children, arrived in Singapore.
“When I moved here, my girlfriends suggested I start the business again. I didn’t think it would work because of the popularity of Orchard Road. But they really encouraged me, so I started selling from my house and immediately had great feedback. I think it worked because when I arrived, Orchard Road only really catered to the very high end or the low end. The middle market barely existed, so I thought I could target that. In May 2009, I opened up Shopping At Tiffany’s in Tanglin Mall.”
Tiffany is part of a growing number of mothers who’ve managed to carve out a successful business while also putting family first. “It takes weeks of military-style planning to organise the family before I go on a buying trip,” she laughs. No doubt it helps that all her children like to get involved when stock is delivered to the house. “They know how to hang the clothes properly, and Parker (6) usually ends up jumping about in the empty boxes. The boys even offer a fashion critique from time to time saying, ‘I dunno know about that outfit, Mum.’”
And, it seems, the creativity gene has been passed on to Tiffany’s 12-year-old daughter, Mackenzie. Mackenzie regularly helps out in the store on a Saturday afternoon and even has a few insightful style tips for women confident enough to take advice from a young fashionista.
“She loves wrapping up the purchases and putting the credit cards through, the things my mum used to let me do. But her real dream is to be an actress,” says Tiffany. With such a stylish pedigree, it’s a dream that’s likely to come true. But until that day you can find all three generations sharing their passion at Shopping At Tiffany’s.
Shopping at Tiffany’s is at #02-03 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road. Call 6887 4461.
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