Tell us a bit about your family
My family consists of me, 3 children and a chihuahua. This was a late decision for me… nearly 60, children all grown up at 33, 30 & 27. So didn’t have to juggle school, sitters etc… They are behind me 100%, give me lots of encouragement and support, and advice on all things technical.. also helped that most of their friends had children, so in turn were able to give constructive opinions on my clothing choices. (I think I did not bad on my own, for a first time retailer hehe)
What’s your business called?
Stamford Kidz Stuff
Can you describe it in one sentence?
Affordable childrens clothing and toys with a smile and always time for a chat.
When did you start it and what inspired you?
Started in April 2015. Being made redundant after many years put me in panic mode… then a few days of going thru every emotion know to man or woman…few weeks of meetings, emails and negotiations I finally came to the conclusion that, actually, I didn’t want to work like that anymore. So, then a few weeks of applying for jobs before realisation dawned, why not work for yourself. But what to do. Pure chance brought me to this centre, to discover that the existing childrens clothing outlet was closing end of march… lots more leg work and research around stamford convinced me that this was a niche market. Only other source of children’s clothing in the town was supermarket stock or boutique expensive garments. Previous tenants were absolutely brilliant, very generous in sharing their knowledge,experiences, pitfalls etc.
How did you fund your start up?
Funded by redundancy pay and savings
Can you describe a typical day?
A typical day starts with a visual assessment of the shop, bit of a tidy, mop floor, replace any stock,key in till, check float, cup of tea, then i’ m ready to receive visitors. This centre is not overly busy, so I have ,lots of free time, changing manequin outfits, rearranging rails, relocating toys, continually assessing stock.reordering…this time of year is my first festive challenge, organising, school fares etc.posting latest pictures on Facebook & twitter. Continually reminding my customers of deals etc. Like to keep everybody informed.
What have you found hardest?
Not faced too many challenges so far… initially my constant dread was ‘have I bought the right stuff’, will people like them, have I got the right price point, have I advertised enough.’.. do you know what, I did everything I could possibly think of, my landlord advertised in local mags… With the help of my children, we launched on Fb & twitter, and all the business pages. I pounded the streets and did a leaflet drop, whilst my daughter approached lots of shops, coffee bars, leisure centre, tourist information and anywhere else we could think of… produced a cystomer questionaire.. looking for opinion and suggestions…loyalty cards offering a half price item on 6th visit, seems to a good incentive…
1 challenge recently lady buys 2 jackets for twin boys, returned 1 after a month with broken zip. To cut a long story short, following frequent calls & emails & trawling thru websites to find the identical jacket… to no avail.. I suddenly thought, what if I replaced the zip.. customer was delighted with the idea… keep twins the same… got a professional to carry out the task, keeping the customer informed all the time. I even delivered it in person… nhappy customer yippee…gratifying. But hopefully this doesn’t happen too often.
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
Best about being self employed, its all down to me, no dellusions, very realistic,and very objective,and very optimistic..no more having to answer to crazy reports deadlines and demands… this is it, I will do everything in my power to succeed and grow my wee business. Although I am not expecting miracles, as long as I am fulfilling a need. At the end of the day I cannot please everybody. It’s great fun and so rewarding, love chatting to all the wee ones who come through my door.
What are your plans for the future?
Plans for future I would love to rent an independent shop, as my current unit within a centre is rather restrictive time constraints, limited for space, certain rules and regulations.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
I have not been in business long enough to give advice,, but a couple of things I have learned is have a budget and stick to it, and I said from the start, that I would wait until more than 4 customers asked for the same item, then I would attempt to source and stock it.