In this series, our collaborator Carolyne Brown meets the Local Talents—flagship stores in the heart of Rockland Centre. These interviews are all about sharing, sincerity and proximity. We invite you to enter their world and discover who they are.
Let’s meet Randa Khal and Julien Owners of the Aux Merveilles boutique
My father founded the shop in 1980. It was during a trip to Morocco that my parents discovered handmade crafts. Forty years ago, Moroccan crafts were quite unknown and very different from what was offered locally. They liked the idea of selling different and exclusive products; that’s how the store was born.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
I started working in the shop with my parents at the age of 17 and it quickly became a passion. My father was pressuring me to continue my studies, but I didn’t want to. I never left the shop and I am now the owner with my husband, Julien.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in your career as an entrepreneur?
Seeing all the businesses closed. The retail industry is never stable, there are many ups and downs... and the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help. There will always be challenges, but we manage to overcome them through our perseverance.
We offer a personal service and have a great relationship with our customers. They come to meet us, talk to us, and listen to our advice.
What is the biggest lesson that business ownership has taught you?
I never stop learning: every day is different. I learn from every person I meet, our suppliers, and our customers.
What do you hope that people remember about your company?
We are a shop that has been around for a long time and our customers are very loyal. They think our shop is unique and that we offer excellent service.
It varies a lot every season. For example, right now, mirror pieces are very trendy.
You must love what you do. It’s not even a matter of money – you must be passionate about your work before anything else.
Tell us a funny anecdote or event from your entrepreneurial journey.
I once had a customer who came into the shop looking for a gift, and despite my questions, he wouldn’t tell me who the present was for. I advised him, and a few days later, I received a package at home. The gift was for me!
What is your best-kept secret?
Our strength lies in our ability to select beautiful pieces at competitive prices.
We’ve been at the Rockland Centre for 40 years – our wish is to stay here for a long time.