Scottish Mumpreneur Network talks to Eleanor of http://www.thingspretty.com/ about getting her items stocked in retail shops.
1. Tell us about your business - what made you start it and how long has it been operating?
I worked in Thailand for several years as marketing manager for a jewellery company and during my time there I saw so many beautiful things that I knew I would buy. So I got to know the designers and producers well and tested the market by sending some items back home and through the excellent feedback I received I decided to set up Things Pretty when I returned to the UK in 2006. I have always worked full time so I started out slowly and worked market stalls at the weekends and progressed to my ebay shop. Since I had my lovely wee boy Charlie, 15 months ago and gave up work, I have really tried to pushed things forward as much as I can by setting up my website and selling to shop, I am now going to attend my first trade far in September so am very excited.
2. We see you have your designs stocked in a few shops? How did that come about?
I have an accessories range in Sam Thomas, luckily she is a good friend and she gave my products a trial run in her shop. Things have been going well over the last five months so we are launching a new range at the end of August. I also approached Mary’s Living and Giving Shop in Stockbridge because I read an article that they were interested in working with local people to promote their products. I popped in one day and asked if i could get involved and I followed it up with an e-mail and some examples of my products. Now I have a regular guest spot in the shop and a range of my brooches are displayed permanently. I also really enjoy working in the shop and giving something back to charity. Also I would say the hardest part is getting the first shop but once you have made that step it’s so much easier to grown from there.
3. Do you have any advice you would give other people about approaching shops?
It can be quiet daunting but I find the best way to look at it is from their point of view. If I was a shop owner, I would love someone to come in with an exciting new, different product, it’s great for the shop as much as it is for you. If you have a unique idea or good product then people love to know about it so just tell them. The best advice I ever read was from Mary Portas in her column in Grazia, she said she was sick of woman wasting time because they thought they were not good enough and I read it and thought, you are right what I am waiting for, just go for it and I did, seriously what’s the worst that can happen?
4. Have you had any difficult situations when approaching shops? If so how did you deal with it?
Not really, I did have a shop who didn’t contact me when I thought it was quiet a positive meeting and they seemed so keen but I later learned they had to close their shop, so always be positive.
5. Do you have any advice on how to cost designs for stocking in shops, that our readers would benefit from?
Do your research and know your market, who are your customers and what would they pay for it, ask your friends and family for advice, you can never have enough help. Today’s climate is very competitive and I feel in these uncertain times people are more careful with their money so be realistic, people are choosy but if you have a good quality product that’s a little bit unique then you are in with a good chance. It helps to be different; people also appreciate good customer service and a friendly attitude.