How To Run A Successful Boutique

We spoke to three female boutique owners from our independent community about the ups and downs of starting your own business and asked them to share their advice for any aspiring entrepreneurs out there.

Future & Found

Andrea from Future and Found
Andrea from Future and Found

Andrea, the owner of Tufnell Park’s Future & Found, is the mastermind behind a boutique whose distinctive aesthetic draws discerning shoppers from far and near.

What did you do before you started your boutique?

I worked in buying and product development for retail brands such as Heal’s, Paperchase and Jamie Oliver, where I was able to learn the ropes while being surrounded by industry experts.

How did you go about starting your own business?

It felt like such a huge step and even bigger risk at the time, but I haven’t looked back since. It’s really tough and takes a lot of work and determination, but it’s all worth it.

What is the best thing about owning your own boutique?

The product selection process, as I get to handpick from all the fantastic product we see. I honestly feel like a child in a sweet shop! I’m also very proud of the relationships we have developed with our customers and how loyal they are to us in the area.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Cash flow, boringly. You have so many plans and ideas but you have to take things one step at a time. Plus, finding really good, reliable staff that you trust with representing your business and giving great service.

What would be your advice for anyone wanting to open their own boutique?

Seriously consider how tough it is and how anti-social the hours can be – some people have a romantic vision of playing shop, but it’s so much more complex and demanding than most people realise. Also, you need to know your vision and stick to it – you’re constantly being tempted with product and suggestions, so being 100% clear about what’s right for your store and brand is crucial.

Discover Future & Found on Trouva.

32 The Guild

Zoie from 32 the Guild
Zoie from 32 the Guild

From a freelance footwear designer to entrepreneur, Zoie, owner of 32 The Guild, has many strings to her bow. We sat down to talk about what motivated her to open her boutique, and why she would encourage others to do the same.

What did you do before you started your boutique?

I started my career as a freelance footwear designer, living and working in London. When I met my husband (who was also a shoe designer), we decided to relocate to Northampton where he was born.

How did you go about starting your own business?

Starting my own shop really came out of a frustration of the lack of original, beautiful independent shops in Northampton and a hunger for new and interesting products. A space became available in the Cultural Quarter, where I had always wanted to open a shop, so I just took the plunge. We started off small with only a selection of products and brands, one of which was the shoe brand Grenson, which is designed and made just outside of Northampton. I’m proud to say we still stock them today.

What’s the best thing about owning your own boutique?

I find running my own business incredibly rewarding, from the freedom it affords me while raising two small children to the lack of restrictions I have in unearthing and stocking emerging brands and products I love. It never feels like work.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Spreading the word and getting the boutique known was hard at the beginning. You have an initial influx of interest when you first open but it’s difficult to sustain. Instagram and social media was a really useful tool in this respect, and we used it right from the beginning.

What would be your advice for anyone wanting to open their own boutique?

To take a leap of faith and do it; the more independents there are the better, so don’t be afraid of competition. Independent boutiques offer an in-store experience that big retailers can’t provide. We can create an atmosphere, with fragrance, lighting and visual merchandising, and give a personal service that will keep customers returning.

Discover 32 The Guild on Trouva.

Debbie Bliss Home

Debbie from Debbie Bliss
Debbie from Debbie Bliss

Debbie Bliss Home was founded by an all-female force of mother, daughter and best friend. We spoke to Debbie, Nell and Lottie to find out more about their boutique journey, and how they’ve embraced the local Walthamstow community.

What did you do before you started your boutique?

We were all friends or family before we started the shop; Lottie had worked in retail for 15 years and Nell, who had no retail experience whatsoever, previously worked at a celebrity booking agency. Debbie is an internationally acclaimed hand-knitting designer – she was actually awarded an MBE in December 2015 for services to the craft industry, which she collected from HRH Prince Charles on her birthday!

How did you go about starting your own business?

Whilst socialising at a knitting evening we decided to launch a homeware brand that would complement Debbie’s yarn business. We started online, developing our own products which were then all made in the UK. We soon outgrew Debbie’s house, so we moved into a premises round the corner where we were able to transform an old architect’s office into a design studio for Debbie and a lifestyle shop for Lottie and Nell.

What is the best thing about owning your own boutique?

We have loved becoming part of the local community and sharing a drink with customers on a Friday evening. Obviously having flexible working hours, working minutes from our houses, and being able to act as a creche for a 3-year-old and a tiny Yorkiepoo dog are all bonuses.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

We had to wait for some time for a space to become available, as we were set on being on a particular street in Walthamstow. Then we had to overcome our critics, as we were the first local shop offering premium brands and therefore prices to match.

What would be your advice for anyone wanting to open their own boutique?

Location, location, location. You can have the most beautiful shop with the most beautiful, curated products but if there is no footfall then it will be difficult. We are on a quiet, pedestrianised street, but the shop is surrounded by lovely restaurants making the street a destination for people who have travelled from all over London.

Discover Debbie Bliss Home on Trouva.

Interested in independents? Read about how our high streets are changing, and what this means for independent businesses, here.

Trouva

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *