“make the most of what you already have, maximise what you have in front of you and grow from there”
My journey into entrepreneurship wasn’t an easy one but it was definitely spun from the desire to design. If there was one thing that I have always done it is draw dresses, from a very early age I drew dresses and spent hours colouring them in. I loved to play dress up and my father tells me that I was quite demanding as a toddler when it came to getting dressed in the morning, I had to wear a dress and apparently it had to be pink! Err… of course.
A lot of people ask me how I “took the plunge” from full time employment to business owner? truth is it wasn’t quite like that; During my career as a bridal stylist I always knew that it was temporary, that I would be doing something else and that my stylists’ jobs were a stepping stone. At the time I was a single mum of two young children and I am also epileptic, a disability that you can’t see but one that has a major effect on everyday life, it was tough but I kept going because I knew that I wanted to do more I just had to figure out how. I had learnt so much during this time as a stylist and it was invaluable to the work I do today from insight into customers wants and needs, the struggles and joys of a boutique owner, to the dynamics of the bridal industry. My introduction into bridal fashion was as a stylist and I am so grateful for this.
When customers started to ask me “what I would wear for my wedding?” I started to think and then draw. I drew the items that I would like to see on the rails in the boutiques that I worked in and very shortly I had amassed a collection of over 400 designs on paper which were displayed on my dining room wall- my friend thought it was a new wallpaper! A close friend and business owner encouraged me to start thinking about a business of my own I had nothing to lose and everything to gain ( I had actually hit rock bottom) but I was afraid of “business” I had never thought of myself as a “business type of person” I was always “creative” I was also not someone that the banks would lend to so my friend explained the ‘elves and the shoemaker process’- to create, sell and then save half or more of everything that you make ready to re-invest into your business as a way to enable it to grow and this is how I stared Wilderness Bride.
I was sat on the train reading a local newspaper article it was about a woman who had created a successful small business in Chester and she said “make the most of what you already have, maximise what you have in front of you and grow from there”. Without funding, I used a very small amount of my own money to buy some fabric and used it to make a lace top, it went perfectly with the dresses sold in the boutique where I worked and when I sold one, I saved the money and bought more fabrics to make another. I slowly grew my collection with the intention of adding dresses, my confidence in my products grew when other boutiques wanted to stock my little lace tops. Seeing brides buy my products was a major thrill! And a driver to push me forward.
The other thing I started to do was attempt to help my employers, I would re-write business plans for them, introduce new designers, plan events, come up with re-branding ideas, ways to improve services and make extra revenue-I did so much without realising that ‘this is business’. Its not all about finance and figures, charts and boring books, it can actually be creative and fulfilling. Once I had allowed myself to do these things for myself and my own brand that’s when Wilderness Bride really began to take shape.
The trick was to simply start. I had nothing to lose. I would make something and sell it without even having a website. Everything else followed with hard work, focus, determination, the willingness to learn and the utmost desire to design dresses.
These are some of the books that I have read which helped me to kick-start and continue my journey:
Top to Toe: The ultimate guide to becoming who you want to be -Nicky Hambleton-Jones
Inspiring women: How real women succeed in business – Michelle Rosenberg
Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki