We take a look at a day in the life of our dynamic, opera-singing store manager, Cara McHardy.
Two days a week, you’ll find Cara McHardy working with the volunteers at Ada & Albert’s Boutique in Chislehurst, helping customers find that perfect piece for their wardrobe and, with fellow store-manager Dominique Beverton, keeping the store running smoothly.
On opening up each morning, Cara’s first job is to make sure the store is ready for customers, clean and tidy and with a perfect range of stock priced and on the shop floor.
She says: “I always make sure there’s a wide selection of sizes, and that the stock reflects the weather – if it’s cold, like today, then I bring more coats and jumpers down from the stockroom.”
Cara says it’s important to get a feel for what stock is available, especially if she hasn’t been at Ada & Albert for a few days. “If you know what’s out on the rails, then you’re better able to make suggestions if people come in looking for something specific,” she says.
That attention to customer service is something everyone at Ada & Albert prides themselves on. For Cara, it’s as important to know when to approach a customer and offer suggestions, and when to let them browse on their own.
“All the volunteers here are great at knowing who has come in for a chat while they browse, and who just wants some peace and quiet,” she said. “I love meeting new people and getting to learn a bit more about them. It helps me find the right piece for each person, and seeing the item go to the perfect home is something I’m passionate about.”
Cara has a great eye for picking the right outfit with the right home, even when at first glance it’s not the most obvious match.
She explains: “Last week an 83 year-old lady came in and I suggested she try some fabulous rose gold trainers. It was totally out there, but she tried them on and they looked wonderful – it really cheered her up. To see the smile it brought to her face, and to know she’ll be wearing them out, looking incredibly stylish, and that she bought them at Ada & Albert, is just amazing!”
When Cara isn’t at Ada & Albert, helping people find their new favourite outfit, or at home raising her two children, she also performs as an opera singer, working with some of the best orchestras and companies in London.
Cara trained at the Guildhall School of Music in London, and the Conservatoire Nationale in Paris, and has played leading roles such as Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth, and the title role in Tosca for Kentish Opera.
This summer, she’s been working at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, brushing up on her German with a full schedule of rehearsals for Wagner’s ‘The Ring Cycle’.
A famous opera performed by an incredible company, audiences regularly travel from all over the world to see it performed. As a dramatic soprano, Cara’s powerful voice soars above a 100-piece orchestra, all while she lends her natural exuberance to her performances.