Location, location, location

Olivias Verden first saw the light of day in 2012. Today, CEO Jenny Ørjavik heads up five successful stores. She believes location is the B-all and end-all.

Photos: Jarran Flokkmann

Jenny Ørjavik’s Norwegian adventure began in 1992 when she left Denmark in order to complete her training at Danish Bestseller. Having worked her way up to both store manager and regional manager, Jenny became CEO for T. Fredriksen AS, which was running 20 Vero Moda and Only stores in eastern Norway. In 2012, however, T. Fredriksen AS was bought out by Bestseller and Jenny had to make a new career choice.

Soon after the sale was completed, Jenny was called up by a Thon Eiendom property manager about a vacant store at Sandvika Storsenter and she decided that the time had come to venture out on her own.

“I didn’t have the concept 100% ready until I got the offer of premises at Sandvika Storsenter. As soon as I knew I had a good space, I felt that I’d made the right decision. Even so, the belief that things would go really well was mixed in with a good deal of trepidation, uncertainty and excitement.”

Affinity with both goods and customers

Today, Olivias Verden is a fashion store for teenage girls to mature women, and mothers and daughters can often be found shopping together. The good range of prices means everyone can find something in our stores and, most important of all, all the goods justify their price. And that goes for both cheaper and more expensive goods alike. Buying inexpensive goods where the goal is for customers to be surprised at the price is a real art. Not only that, Ørjavik has managed to open stores in five different shopping centres at various locations in Oslo and Viken. Where Jenny’s concerned, this means that she can’t be quite so hands on as she used to be when it comes to selling from the shop floor. She maintains close dialogue with her store managers every day since which stores need extra support is constantly changing. 

“The key is having the right goods at the right time.”

Jenny Ørjavik

I still spend a lot of time hand-picking goods and products from suppliers. The store managers run the daily operations and I make sure we have a sufficient flow of goods. The key is having the right goods at the right time.”

Do you still manage to get out on the floor?

“I usually remind myself to try and be in-store on Fridays but I don’t always have the time. But inspiration and ideas definitely crop up when I can be a bit more hands on. Otherwise, I’m always on the move and pop into the stores every day.

Exclusively at shopping centres

Olivias Verden is currently exclusive to shopping centres.

“Following the success at Sandvika, further opportunities arose for attractive premises at the best centres. This has led me to putting my efforts into running stores in centres. So far, there’s been no ambition to set up an online store since I’m concerned it could take focus from the boutique operations. Of course you can never say never, but if I decide to go down that path it’ll be completely separate and I’ll go for it 100%.”

“It’s making sure we’ve got the best party going at all times.”

Jenny Ørjavik

Do you have any examples of the benefits for those who are thinking about opening a store at a shopping centre?

“The first thing i want to say is that I like running stores in shopping centres. I like the sense of community and all the centres are run by highly skilled, inspiring people who help us leaseholders get better and build motivation. There is of course a discussion to be had concerning opening times and profitability but my stores are located in really good centres where the turnover justifies the opening times.

In-store success

Ørjavik says she thinks there is one factor that has made her customers come back time and time again.

“The whole concept is based on the stores having new goods delivered nearly every single day. Our customers are very well aware of this, and that’s why we have lots of customers who pop in every day.

“The atmosphere in the shop is also incredibly important. We want everyone who visits us to get a good feeling. There can be masses of stock as long as everything is nice and tidy and the goods are displayed well.

“Good quality, the right goods at the right time, and excellent staff, are all keys to success.

“It’s making sure we’ve got the best party going at all times.”

Jenny Ørjavik has managed to open stores in five different shopping centres at various locations in Oslo and Viken.

Ørjavik further notes how important it is to take care of the concept when building up a loyal customer base.

“It’s really important to think ‘OK, is this us? Or isn’t this us?’ You really need to consider things carefully and make sure you stay on the right track. With us, things need to be feminine, they need to be beautiful and they need to be easy to use. At the same time, we have to have some special products which are the season’s must-have items.”

The at of running a business alone

What is it that drives you to keep on going?

“Well it’s actually tremendous fun. And I’m competitive too, so that keeps me going. Nothing’s quite as much fun as retail! (At least when things are going well.) And then I’ve created my own workplace from what I’m really interested in, so even if there’s an awful lot of work, it also provides flexibility, which motivates you to keep going. Not least, it’s very inspiring to see so many young people developing and gaining good work experience that they can take further with them in life.”

“Nothing’s quite as much fun as retail!”

Jenny Ørjavik

Would you say that Texcon works as a partner for you?

“Absolutely! I became a member the moment I started Olivias Verden. Today I’m actually fortunate enough to be on the Texcon board. On the way I’ve got to know a great many wonderful, industrious, talented people. Since I run things on my own, I’ve also created a very good network. I can simply pick up the phone and ask questions; whether they’re important or not so important, it’s just the same.”