When Linda Chandler moved to Ponsonby from New York City six years ago she not only followed her Timaru-born husband, but also her dream to bring her fashion knowledge to Auckland.
Linda has transported the fashion style from her home city, New York, to the people of Auckland. In 2007, Linda opened her fashion boutique Apartment 86 (Apt 86) in Grey Lynn, a shop for local women to purchase unique clothing items to enhance their wardrobes.
"My concept was to introduce affordable fashion and different designer styles to Aucklanders. I sell structured dresses, chic styles with lots of colour and prints. I take an international approach to fashion.
"My heart is here, I am a New Zealand citizen and I consider myself a community person, whenever I have a fashion show, I work with the local hair salon, make up artist, and I hold the show in local art galleries," says Linda, who is originally from the Bronx. "Just because I wasn't born a local, I feel very much an Aucklander."
Linda's boutique sells classic and timeless fashion items which she imports from Miami, Los Angeles and New York. She's cemented herself as a talented stylist, regularly giving fashion tips on Good Morning and she offers personalised fashion styling services as well.
Her passion for fashion goes way back - Linda has lived, and modelled, in some of the biggest fashion cities in the world. She was a Haute Couture runway model for various international designers in Paris, Germany and New York and a fit model for more than 10 years. Linda was classically trained in ballet and modern dance, and a graduate from a New York performance art academy.
She also worked as a stylist and in sales for many department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Macy's and Lord & Taylor and founded her own image consulting business in New York. Having gained insight as a model, image consultant and in fashion sales, Linda moved to New Zealand armed with experience to help her start her own retail business.
"I wanted to share information about how to wear garments properly with an amazing fit and not too much fuss. I realised I could make a business out of it. So I took time out to learn about business by working at various investment banking firms as an executive assistant and assistant junior analyst on Wall Street."
When Linda arrived in New Zealand in 2006, she wanted to better understand how local Aucklanders style themselves in the workplace, so she took on temporary office jobs.
"I was researching the local Auckland ladies. What I noticed was there wasn't much in the way of diversity, colour and structure. So I decided to concentrate on those three areas in my boutique. I also noticed the price range on garments in the local malls was high considering the fabrication and styles. I wanted to bring local women more choice."
Apartment 86 means so much more than just a fashion boutique. Named after the street where Linda met her Kiwi husband for a first date in New York (86th Street), the shop echoes her own personal style but appeals to her target market, women from 25 to 60. The Great North Road boutique offers something for everyone by stocking sizes from 4-16.
Linda is flattered at being called an entrepreneur - attributing her hard-working attitude to her upbringing.
"I'm a hard worker, coming from New York, you work hard because in that environment the competition is high! Even during the economic downturn I still kept my doors open. Entrepreneurship is about persevering."