We’re delighted that the talented and lovely Lisa Stell, owner of Funky Kitsch has written a fabulous guest blog for us about her experiences of starting her own business.
I love working for myself. I really do. Many years ago (7 actually), I left the office rat race and set up working at home running my own business. Back then I was selling high end perfume both on my own website and on my Ebay shop. I did very well in the first two years, (the hardest years of a business in my opinion) and only closed the perfume shop when I had my daughter who is now 5.
Once my little tiddler started nursery I knew the time was right to start working again, but there was no way I could consider going back to an office and by 2011, the world of perfume had moved on. Our wholesaler was selling on Ebay at prices we could obviously not compete with, so it was a no brainer that I wouldn’t be selling any more perfume.
Whilst I was still pondering what I could offer the big wide world, I was doing what I had done since my daughter had been born; looking at lovely clothes from Scandinavia. I always bought these clothes as they were a bit quirky, good quality, and organic. They also held their value and could be sold on once they had been outgrown. I loved them (and still do). I had my epiphany moment whilst browsing one of the scandi websites one day, admiring the lovely fabric and I thought ‘I could sell this stuff’. From that initial spark of an idea came a lot of researching; finding wholesalers, shipping costs, competitors etc. Once I had mastered all that comes with ordering from overseas, I cast my mind further afield to quirky gifts, readymade clothing, toys. In fact all of my stock is pretty much an extension of my tastes!
In October 2012 I decided to experiment with having a bricks and mortar shop. I rented a space with a retail outlet and gave myself 6 months to see how things went. It was much harder than I anticipated and although the customers that came and bought my products loved them, I found that ‘where it’s at’ is online. It’s a sad but true fact that the high street is losing out to online shopping. Whether there will be a renaissance in the near future and a return to independents on the high street I don’t know. After my 6 months I decided to return to online only. I’m a small business and watching the pennies is essential if you don’t want to go under.
Ok, I’ll admit, it has been a hard slog at times, especially when you have family life going on in the next room. At least in an office you can leave it all behind but working from home, it can often be hard to keep focused and distractions are everywhere. However, I work the hours to fit around my family. Sewing at midnight is something that does happen frequently. Looking through emails and making to-do lists before bed is routine. And I don’t come out in a cold sweat worrying how I’ll tell my manager that school has phoned to tell me to pick up my sick daughter.
What I’ve learnt over the past 18 months is this: If you’re thinking of chucking in your 9-5 job and forging ahead, building your own empire then I’d say go for it. Recession? What recession?
But before you do throw the resignation on your bosses desk and tell him all the things you’ve been wanting to say for years, stop. Wait. Think. You’ll need a clear vision of the type of products or services you want to sell. A business plan. Some capital to set your business up and/or buy stock. Do your homework and research the industry you will become part of. Know your competitors and more importantly, what your customers want. Your business can be a success or a failure and the bottom line is it’s down to how hard you want it to succeed. It’s not a secret or rocket science. Honest.
Love her concept? Visit the Funky Kitsch online store!