Ever since I started my business I wanted to find a way for buyers and sellers to communicate more, for buyers to tell us what they need to see and want to hear and for brand owners to have the confidence to let their personality and passion shine through and sell their products.
I share this through my podcast, blog, and social media and this past week I also had the pleasure to speak with 5 independent shop owners about retail last year and this year, buying, sourcing and pitching and much more. I love how even though the questions I prepare are the same for each live each conversation is very different and we can learn something different from each.
Here’s a summary of all the key takeaways from each live and if you missed them you can find them all over on my Instagram.
Abel and Nicki from All things Analogue
All things Analogue is a sanctuary for stationery lovers in the heart of Eastbourne where Nicki grew up.
Abel and Nicki bravely took the leap after being made redundant during the pandemic and moved their family to the coast to set up shop, a lifelong dream of Abel’s having spent his career in retail buying.
Setting up shop during a global pandemic means that their brick and mortar store has been closed more than it’s been open and that the plans to add a webshop had to be expedited, I love their attitude of if you can set up a business and survive during a global pandemic you can do anything.
In our chat, we spoke about:
How Abel and Nicki came to move from London to set up shop in Eastbourne.
How their customers have already helped shaped what they buy and stock.
What to bear in mind when contacting independent retailers.
Honesty and Passion is your best asset so make sure that this comes across in your communication.
Lucy from Acorn and Pip
Acorn and Pip is a beautiful children’s store and cafe in West Yorkshire run by Lucy and her partner.
I discovered Acorn and Pip through a client that told me that Lucy stocks a range of diverse dolls, something that is not very easy to find. Since then I’ve spoken with Lucy on my podcast, you can catch the episode here and I love how much thoughtfulness and heart Lucy puts into her business and range.
During the pandemic, Lucy had a baby, set up a market place and a group coaching program and had to get used to a new way to source products and plan for her business.
In our chat, we spoke about:
How 2020 went for Acorn and Pip, how the pandemic changed their buying and range and how they had to do a lot of quick thinking.
How retailers are still buying so it’s important to keep going.
Why Lucy opened up Acorn and Pip loves their new market place.
Heart is the centre of everything, value-based businesses the new norm and small business are buying.
Find out more about Lucy's group coaching program here.
Sign up for her "Business builder Friday newsletter".
Athena from Meticulous Ink
Meticulous Ink is a stationery shop in the beautiful city of Bath. At the front, there’s the shop area and in the back, there’s a workshop space where Athena and her team usually run calligraphy and lettering workshops.
The shop is stocked with beautiful stationery and paper and writing accessories both from their own range as well as other brands and they have 2 Original Heidelberg printing presses that are used to print greetings cards, stationery and bespoke projects such as invitations and business cards.
Athena and Meticulous Ink recently won the People Choice award in the Independent Awards by Holly & Co. Congratulations Athena!
We chat about:
Trade shows can help you reach your goals but it’s not the only way to grow your business.
Supplying large retailers is not going to suit every business and doesn’t have to be the ultimate goal for your wholesale.
Third-party wholesale marketplace platforms.
Do what’s right for your business and don’t get too caught up with what success looks like for other brands and businesses. It’s all very individual.
For the love of the North
Paul and Lucy are the husband and wife team behind For the love of the North, a gift store in Spanish City, Whitley Bay stocking gifts from the North East of England. All prints and cards are sourced directly from artists who live and work in the North East.
I loved chatting with Paul and Lucy, hearing their story of last year was so inspiring, it perfectly illustrates what is so special about shopping small and customers who shop small. I don’t want to give it all away here but tune in to the chat over on IGTV to hear how Paul and Lucy raised £10,000 Northumbria NHS Bright Charity.
We chat about:
How Lucy and Paul work with the artists they stock.
How one kind of act of a customer along with Paul and Lucy’s kindness and passion lead to so many amazingly positive things last year.
Top tips on how to reach out to retailers.
If you stay true to what you believe in and making sure you keep the passion and heart in your business other good things will follow.
Becca and Chris Williamson along with shop dog Luna run Truce, a beautiful lifestyle store in Nailsworth and in Clifton Village in Bristol. Becca and Chris have also been guests on my podcast, you can listen to their episode here.
The second store, in Bristol opened during the pandemic in 2020 and is much larger than the original store. I think it’s so brave of Becca and Chris to open a second store in the middle of a pandemic and I look forward to visiting one day.
We chat about:
What will be popular this spring/summer, both what products and what colours. Becca used to work for Delux so she’s a colour expert.
Third-party wholesale market-places, this came up in several conversations so if you do have the margins there it’s something to look into. Find out more about them in this post.
The importance of making it easy for stockists to buy from you and having a solid ordering process.
Do your research before contacting new potential stockists. If you look at Truce range it’s very clear that they buy really deeply into the brands they stock and often just one brand for a particular product type so if you are pitching that type of product you need to make it clear how yours is different and what you are offering.
I love chatting with shop owners and buyers about retail and sharing their stories and experience. I hope it gives you extra confidence to hear positive stories from retailers at such a strange and challenging time as we have now.
Let me know if you would like me to repeat this week and if so, who you would like to hear from. In the meantime, you can always catch up on one of the 4 seasons of Let’s talk shop available from your normal podcast host or click here to listen.