Growing your business
5 Inspirational UK Retailers
This July is Independent Retailer Month; celebrating small, local, and independent retail stores up and down the UK. Many high-streets are running their own #IndieRetail campaigns for the month, to cast a spotlight over the little businesses making a big difference - and we've put together a calendar of retail events for you to check out too!
But first, we're continuing our retail celebrations with a spotlight on 5 inspiring retailers who are doing great things with their retail businesses. Check them out!
Tommy Williams and Sanmi Ogunmola, All Shades Covered
Founders of All Shades Covered, an e-commerce site providing affordable hair care, extensions, and beauty products to women of colour who may have been otherwise overlooked by major retailers. The site launched in 2016, and has since reached customers all over Europe – with plans to expand into Africa in the near future too.
Offering their advice to budding entrepreneurs, founders Tommy and Sanmi say:
“Speaking to your potential customer is the easiest way to make sure you understand what they actually want, and it will also save you wasting money!”
“Focus on the first hundred, then thousand customers before thinking about drastically scaling up any processes.”
“And don’t be afraid to cancel something which doesn’t work and move onto something else; in e-commerce, the answer often lies in the data rather than assumptions.”
Nafisa and Selina Bakkar, Amaliah
The Bakkar sisters originally launched Amaliah simply as an Instagram page back in 2015. Since then it has developed into a lively online community – with over 250,000 members - and e-commerce clothing store, addressing the pain point Muslim women face when looking for clothes that are fashionable, yet modest.
Recently, their website has evolved to become a panel for the voices of Muslim women in the UK too, and acts a platform for bloggers from around the world.
“We don’t have the Vogue or Fashion Week equivalent,” explains Nafisa. “I saw that the way people were solving the problem was to following fashion bloggers. We put a call out to bloggers saying ‘hey if you’re interested in the movement let us know’ and we were overwhelmed by positive feedback that there was finally someone bringing together the modest fashion world.”
Emma-Jayne Parkes and Viviane Jaeger, Squid London
Whilst studying at university, Emma-Jayne and Viviane conducted a research project that defined colour-changing umbrellas as the most in demand colour-changing product. They put together a trial run of 100 pieces, and in just 11 days they had completely sold out! Since then the pair have gone on to launch Squid London; now stocking colour changing umbrellas, shower curtains, and rainwear in 13 countries worldwide.
Their tips for small business success:
“It’s crucial to speak to people and to listen to their opinions. Don’t, however, let anyone hinder or cloud your judgement. No matter how daunting comments or advice might be, don’t let it scare you. Always stick to your gut feeling but never discard any advice given – you never know when it might come in handy!”
Leigh, Neil, and David Chadwick, Seasalt
In August 1981, the Chadwick family wandered into a little shop on Adelaide Street, Penzance. They only intended to pick up some raincoats, but they ended up buying the shop too! 36 years later and the Chadwick brothers, Leigh, Neil and David, are still running the business – now with a clothing brand of their own: Seasalt. The brand is inspired by all the things they love about Cornwall, and now employs more than 300 people.
“Despite our growth, our values remain the same as they did years ago. It is very important to us that we respect our local community, and that all our employees and suppliers share in the benefits of our growing business.
“Although Seasalt has grown, the simple way of life that we love in Cornwall still remains at our heart. We talk honestly and openly about the things we love to all the friends we have around the UK and that has created a very strong brand loyalty.”
Charlotte Danks, Affordable Foods UK
With the mission to make sure everybody can afford to eat and drink, Charlotte Danks opened her first Affordable Foods store in 2015. The food and drink retail store sells products that have been rejected by the major supermarkets due to damage, packaging errors, or nearing sell by date. Charlotte sources, collects, and then sells this stock on - normally priced between 25p and £1.
Although their first store only opened two years ago, Charlotte has already franchised a further 4 stores and will soon open her first supermarket in Newquay.
“Long term, I would love to have a shop in every main town of Cornwall,” says Charlotte, “I want to help as many people as possible but I don’t want to take on too much too soon!”