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Business sense, fashion sense

Afshan Tabazadeh relishes her new-found freedom as owner of Zia, a fashion boutique in the Pavilion. The former systems analyst combines her fashion sense with business savvy to clothe Bainbridge women in the latest casual looks.  - Julie Busch photo
Afshan Tabazadeh relishes her new-found freedom as owner of Zia, a fashion boutique in the Pavilion. The former systems analyst combines her fashion sense with business savvy to clothe Bainbridge women in the latest casual looks.
— image credit: Julie Busch photo

Afshan Tabazadeh opens a new boutique.

Owning her own business is not the type of risk Afshan Tabazadeh was trained to take.

With a B.A. in applied mathematics, a master’s degree in statistics and an MBA with specialization in computer information systems, she excelled as a systems analyst. But her professional outlook changed when she became pregnant while working at the high-level accounting firm she’d been with for six years.

“For the first time I felt discriminated against because I’m a mom. Even if I made partner (it wouldn’t change),” said Tabazadeh, who left her senior management position to open Zia, a women’s boutique, in the Pavilion earlier this month. “More than ever I needed to be in control of my career. I wanted that flexibility.”

Now Tabazadeh orders clothing and accessories, keeps the books and spreads the word about her shop, which carries her 15-month-old son’s middle name. Although she has been working long hours juggling business and family, she has no regrets.

“I’m a very risk-averse person. I had to dip into the savings to do it,” she said. “I’ve been so much happier.”

She was 12 when she and her family escaped the Iranian Revolution. They set roots in Los Angeles, where Tabazadeh nurtured her love for fashion.

She and her husband moved to Bainbridge five years ago; her company transferred her here and her husband joined a Seattle firm.

When she set out on her own, deciding the type of venture she wanted wasn’t difficult for Tabazadeh: She had worked with retail businesses. Deciding where to place her establishment turned out to be easy, too.

“I work out (at the gym) upstairs. The store was for lease, the rent wasn’t ridiculous,” Tabazadeh said. “I decided to do it. Now it’s real. There’s no turning back.

“It’s the right kind of foot traffic,” she added, “especially in winter weather. If I was carrying luxury items, I’d be worried.”

The building’s three restaurants, gym and movie theater will bring crowds from which to draw clientele, she said.

Tabazadeh’s window displays have lured them from the start. Inside, they find a mix of casual classic and au courant clothing, much of which is priced under $100. Buttery faux-leather hobo bags, “gotta-have” shirts by 24 Karat and Calvin Klein, “!iT” and Times Square jeans, and the latest Girbaud hoodies practically shout for attention alongside DKNY cropped pants, long flirty dresses and an array of enticing tops – from feminine baby dolls to fresh tie-dyes in delicious hues to soft cottons adorned with rhinestones and butterfly or floral “tattoos.”

Accessories include popular bags by islander Peggy Maracich, leather purses from Fossil, necklaces and earrings made in Seattle, a rainbow of outfit-cinching belts, trendy sunglasses that belie their price tag and Charles David clutch bags in gunmetal and gold.

Tabazadeh chooses mostly California lines for their flair, but she plans to check out the Seattle market, as well.

One of her strengths is customer service and she pairs pieces with clients in the manner of a trusted friend.

Tabazadeh won’t limit her offerings to one age and one size. She’s choosing clothes in a range of shape, size and age categories – from junior to women - and taking notes.

She also makes it easy to shop in Zia, offering personalized service, good background music and comfortable dressing rooms with mirrors.

With clients making purchases from day one – and complimenting everything from the décor to the shopping bags – Tabazadeh likes her odds.

“I have to see what the need is,” she said. “I’m flexible.”

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Counter revolution

Zia is located at 403 Madison Ave., on the first floor of the Pavilion. A grand opening celebration will be held at 5:30 p.m. April 29. The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Call the shop at 780-8988.

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