A WHITE feathered headdress tumbles towards the floor next to summer dresses watched over by a sunset-hued portrait of a painted Native American face.
Vintage-style t-shirts wheel around a central timber table stand under a shell chandelier, while a bleached timber stand of giant proportion lords over the room.
It is not quite opening time on a Saturday morning and Tirzart Boutique is already catching the eye of shoppers walking along Caloundra’s main street.
After four years, Tirza Rose feels confident her business is heading in the right direction, but the boutique is one that almost did not get off the ground.
Tirzart was a fledgling business when COVID struck and Tirza was not sure if or how she could continue.
“I had started off with a pop-up shop and was slowly finding my way with stock,” Tirza says.
“I had designed and got shoes made and things like that and when COVID came, I lost a lot of stock.
“A lot of the factories went down, and I couldn’t get any of my stock that I had originally designed and had done.
“A lot of them didn’t let you know. They just went bust and disappeared. It was really tough, crazy.
“I started trying to get stock from here and there and trying to keep it afloat. It was hard.”
Friends and family thought it safer and less stressful for her to opt out and do something else for a living, but faced with a fork in life’s road, Tirza chose to stick with the boutique.
“There were times when I thought I’d have to shut shop but then I thought, ‘I do have a great landlord’. Because of him, that saved me.”
“I thought, ‘I’ve got nothing to lose.’ I just didn’t want to give up.”
Making the shop work was a test of Tirza’s belief in herself and her direction.
“I really love unique, different things. I’m not a run-of-the mill person, and what I wanted to bring into the shop was really unique products from everywhere, all over the world, so I just went searching,” she says.
“Before COVID, I travelled to find different things as well but with COVID, it got harder and harder. You couldn’t really do anything.”
Tirza put her hunter’s hat on, tracked down replacement stock from Paris, Italy, and the United States, and kept going as the initial economic shock of the pandemic wore off.
Her knack for finding the unusual led her to El Vaquero boots: leather boots, heavy on fringing and Indian-moccasin-bohemian style, handmade by a father and son in Tuscany.
“I even went over there to try and visit them but I ended up getting really sick so I couldn’t go and see them, but they knew I wasn’t far from them in Italy, and we still talked and ended up doing Zoom meetings,” she says.
“They sent me boots and I just fell in love with them. Now I sort of help choose pieces that will suit Australia because the Italian market’s a little different to here.”
“I think they are more way out in colours and that sort of thing. I’m trying to bring a little bit of that here.”
Tirza is now the sole agent for El Vaquero’s limited-edition boots in Australia.
The boots take their place in the boutique along with leather bags; recycled aluminium and sterling silver jewellery; European and American-influenced dresses strong in natural fibres such as cotton, linen, and silk; lace and crochet skirts; striking denim pieces; vintage-style t-shirts; candles and lotions.
Recycled aluminium jewellery and silver jewellery, along with her own range of bags and purses, led Tirza into the shop.
While travelling a few years ago, she came across a manufacturer of recycled aluminium beads and jewellery shapes.
She bought and threaded the beads into her own range of alo jewellery which she sold through a shop at Eumundi market square and a stall at the Caloundra markets.
Although the jewellery was working well, she was considering relocating to Melbourne for a life change when an opportunity arose to open a pop-up shop at Caloundra.
“I thought, ‘I’ll get in and just try it out,’ and we’ve just kind of grown. Everyone loved the shop and what I had.”
Tirza describes the boutique’s overall style as boho-luxe. Free spirit with luxury.
People often comment on how beautiful the shop is.
Tirza believes her eye for presentation and design was influenced by her grandmother.
“My grandmother was very into fashion. She was always buying Vogue magazine,” she says.
“She was always sewing. She would run up things like you would see in Vogue. She always made our clothes. Not daggy – she always had style.”
Tirza seems to have inherited her grandmother’s eye for style. After growing up in Sydney and Tasmania, she found herself working in a French patisserie where the owner noticed her creativity and flair for presentation.
He offered her the opportunity to go into a cake business next door, but she did not take it up.
“I was so shy. I’ve often regretted that I didn’t take it up, what he offered me. I would have loved to have done something amazing,” she says.
“My big thing is that I’ve had to build my confidence, my self-esteem. If there’s one thing the shop has taught me, it’s to have confidence in myself.”
Tirza tries to imbue her customers with confidence as well.
For her, the satisfaction of running the shop does not come from selling, but from seeing customers walk out the door feeling positive about themselves.
“I love seeing women not afraid to wear things that they love,” she says. “A lot of women come in and say, ‘I’m too old for that,’ but there are still styles you can wear that are fun and great, and you’re never too old. I think you’re only as old as you believe.”
“I love the idea of empowering women to wear something they love. I’m also a free spirit. I really love that idea of being a free spirit, a strong woman.
“I want to empower women to wear clothes they love.”