I thought I would make this blog about my journey so far in setting up Beloved for anyone who is interested in starting a business idea of their own. It’s been an exciting journey so far, with some very late nights and it has been challenging at times, but most of all I have learned so many new skills.
I started up Beloved in March 2016. I had been made redundant from Oil and Gas at the end of 2015 and had previously spent years making nappy cakes and hampers for friends, family and work colleagues, and decided to use this time to look into starting my own business. My first point of contact was Business Gateway, it started with a phone call and I have not looked back since!
As part of my market research, I identified my market and started to explore which themes and gifts were popular, and what customers wanted to spend. I started developing my products and sourcing suitable wholesaler suppliers. I also attended 2-3 Business Gateway courses per week, which developed my networking skills, advertising and promotion, marketing awareness, business planning, finance, social media and digital expertise. This all helped me to develop my Business Plan, which focused on my goals and budget.
During this time I was constantly trying to think of my business name, I initially thought this would take me a couple of days, however I was very wrong, it took weeks! The living room floor was papered with rows of cardboard, where my partner and I started listing all words and phrases we associated with all things mother and baby related. After some time, we decided one word would be the most effective along with a tagline, so we narrowed down the business names to six in total and then wrote them onto large pieces of cardboard and pondered over them for a couple of days, including suggestions from our friends and family. It was this point that Beloved was born with the tagline Creative Mother and Baby Gifts! It’s not restrictive in any way and will allow me to develop my range of products, beyond the initial offering of nappy cakes and hampers.
My next stop was Web Development and Web Design. I knew I wanted to have a full ecommerce website, somewhere I could display my products and my customers would enjoy and have the ease of shopping and finding out what unique gifts are available to them. I wanted clear photos, a crisp web design, lots of information on each product and a platform that would let me grow Beloved. I trialed various platforms and decided on Shopify due to the high level of support, room for growth and also because I can fully manage the website myself. I also used the help of a Web Developer, as I wanted my website personalised for Beloved with many changes and hired local help for this through Lewis online Media Solutions.
I used a Graphic Designer to design my logo for the business – I knew I wanted neutral colours and a logo that was simple, effective and memorable. Once my design was finalised it was set to print, using Artier Design and Print, who also created a banner, business cards, safety cards and flyers.
The images are critical to my business, as this is the first thing my customers see when shopping on my online store. I use local photographer Graham Millar from Quartz Photography in Cults, who has helped with all of the images I use for Beloved, apart from some of the quick ones I add to Social Media using my own iPhone and digital camera. I still remember the photographers face as I arrived with a car full of nappy cakes, which took 2-3 hours to photograph them all!
Social Media was the next on the list and this is so important to Beloved. It’s free and a great way to advertise and promote your business. I set up channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus and also You Tube under ‘giftsbybeloved’.
Here are a few challenges I encountered along the way:
- Deciding on a Business name
- Deciding on a branded logo and tag line
- Which website theme and platform to use
- Digital and technical knowledge required to run an ecommerce store
Some of my highlights included:
- Press & Journal’s YL Magazine write up
- Help, support and resource available from Business Gateway and the Prince’s Trust
- Pitching my business at ‘Women Into Business’ networking evening
- Selling throughout the UK and now Overseas
- Setting up my ‘pop-up’ Beloved shop at various Fairs and Events
- Featuring on Etsy’s top products
- Featuring on Gift Wrapped and Gorgeous boutique store
- Receiving re-tweets from the Official Peter Rabbit page
Thanks for taking the time to read my story so far, it’s been one very quick year, busy but full of changes. I have quite a few ideas still to share and some new and personalised products launching in the second half of 2017! I am also learning how to crochet – watch this space!
If you are thinking about setting up a business, I hope the above has been insightful and useful to you. If you decide to go for it, then embrace the challenges, try to avoid the pitfalls and the rewards will come. Please feel free to share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments below!