Helen Derix, owner of Juli Fashion in Morrisburg, is pictured inside the store located in the Morrisburg Plaza. Thompson Goddard Photo

MORRISBURG – There is a sense of welcome inside Juli Fashion store in Morrisburg, with owner Helen Derix making sure everyone feels comfortable. Customers from Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, and local areas come to shop at the store for several reasons, including the quality of clothing and accessories as well as the customer service offered.

Derix came to Canada with her four siblings and parents from Holland in 1964, settling in Montreal before moving with her husband to Long Sault where he ran Bill’s Meats and Groceries. She worked for Bell Canada for 25 years in Montreal and 10 years in Cornwall before retiring. After her husband’s death, she began working at Juli Fashion in Morrisburg one day a week before purchasing the store from the owner in 2016.

When entering the store, there is soft background music playing, a warm greeting from staff, with seasonal holiday decorations throughout. Derix mentioned how the refreshments available at the front reflect the current holiday, with heart chocolates available around Valentine’s Day. She mentioned for Valentine’s Day, purchasers were given a complimentary floral arrangement created by A&B Greenhouses in Chesterville and at Christmas there were draws for seven wreaths created by the same company.

“It is an old-fashioned store, with clothing for everyone,” commented Derix. She explained people accompanying clients can sit near the front store window and enjoy reading a paper or perhaps a coffee or snack while waiting. It is this attention to customer service and people’s needs that has customers returning to Juli Fashion time and again.

Some of the brand names carried by Juli Fashion include NYDJ, Bali, Piccadilly, RapZ, Minkas, Red Coral and Gitane. The store also offers a selection of jewelry, hats, and purses for shoppers to choose from.  Derix explained sizes range from small to 3X. Twice a year staff travel to the Mac Show in Ottawa to make purchases for the business, explaining spring and summer fashions are purchased in September and in March the fall and winter fashions are bought.

Over the years she has earned a reputation for great customer service as well as for the many fashion shows organized for organizations throughout the local area. The fashion shows are known to feature models wearing beautiful fashions but are also becoming famous for the humour and joking manner of Derix who often acts as emcee for the fundraising events.

Derix mentioned her youngest model is 13, with the models generally ranging in age from 48 to 89 years of age. With a smile on her face, she mentioned the 89-year-old model had mentioned to her daughter how being a model in a fashion show was on her bucket list and so this mom’s dream was coming true at one of the upcoming shows.

She mentioned the store was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but support from staff and clients has helped the business cope with its effects. As the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions began to lessen, she held a fashion show outside the store in the Morrisburg Plaza, with people able to safely enjoy seeing the newest fashions and purchase them as well.

When asked about giving some advice to people starting out in business generally and in the fashion business specifically, Derix said it was very important to be honest with people. This includes being honest about the fit of the clothing choices, leaving them alone until they ask for help and accommodate their needs as much as possible. It is important to develop a trusting relationship with clients, give fashion advice as needed and help clients to feel comfortable and welcoming while shopping.

The interview concluded with Derix saying how it was a joy to wake up in the morning, go to the shop and see customers as they come into the store. She enjoys organizing the fashion shows, meeting new people and enjoys helping people “to find something that will look good on them.”

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