Your Name and Age: Angela Brown, 47
Tell us about your family: I am married to James and we have a 7 year old son called Max, we live in Cheltenham.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition? I was in sales management before I had Max which was a lot of hours and travelling, I was self employed so when I had him I slowed right down expecting to go back to it once I got bored of motherhood… I didn’t get bored, I loved it! When Max went to pre school I was a bit bored at times but didn’t want to commit to what I had done before so I started to think about what else I could do that would allow me to take Max to and from school etc, I knew I liked improving property, we had built a house in Portugal from scratch and I enjoyed being very involved with that process and had compliments on the results many times. We knew that eventually we would make some big changes to the house we are currently living in so I decided to do a HND in Spatial Design for 2 years, I discovered that, although I enjoyed the course a lot and the information would be very useful I didn’t want to do this as a business. I had spent a lot of time in Portugal when my son was young and I always bought his shoes and clothes there, when he started reception I didn’t spend such long periods there and so went shopping for shoes here in the UK. That’s when I realised that there just wasn’t the choice of classic boys shoes and if you did finally locate them they were expensive. I was disappointed that so many shoes were made in Pakistan, India and China when we had such lovely shoes available in Europe, after a trip to the States in the December and finding the same problem I decided to look in to providing what was missing.
When did you launch? I launched in November 2010
How did you get started? I started my research in January 2010 which included going to a trade fayre in Italy, loads of on-line research of websites etc, lots of time on the phone and corresponding via e mail sending ideas back and forth to manufacturers. I also got a few groups of mums with boys together to answer questions on samples I had. I finally had some shoes made with my logo and in the mean time arranged for the on-line boutique to be built which has a whole management system behind it that is vital to keeping track of things.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business? I love providing a service to other parents of boys that want the same thing as I did, good quality classic boys shoes at a reasonable price, I speak to customers and encourage feedback so I can constantly improve and that gives me lots of satisfaction. I’m proud of my product which is very rewarding.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business? There isn’t anything!
What has worked well about your business? The website, I purposefully made it simple to use and there’s a story behind it about a boy Max and his faithful Hound, Bentley, there are different scenes showing what they get up to and this will expand as I grow the company.
What’s been your biggest business mistake? How did you deal with it? My biggest mistake was dithering over decisions on what to order and then missing the season for school shoes and then boots, I decided it was not such a bad thing because I have learned a lot by building gradually and being able to monitor things closely, having direct contact with clients has taught me a lot. I’m going to be ready for the seasons this year!
How do you fit in work with the family? Is your partner supportive of your business? I am lucky because my husband James is also self employed and knows what it takes to set up a business, he has great faith in me, we have always had similar goals in business and life. My son Max is 7 and he always has me around so doesn’t think any different!
Are you working towards a financial goal for your business? Not really, I am doing this because I want to provide a service, my margins aren’t huge so I wont be making a million any time soon, I intend to invest any profits in to expanding the range and the service. I am also looking for the right charity to link to boys and when I find it I will be supporting it. I think sport is very important for boys especially in the younger years so I am looking for something that supports that. I have kept the costs down by not having premises which involves rent, rates, staff etc. That allows me to keep the cost of the shoes down too.
Would you ever give up your business to do something else? No
Do you have an exit strategy? No, I don’t believe in preparing for failure!
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come? No, I haven’t, The Junior Magazine results were very exciting but I am a long way from there yet! I want one full year of trading to learn all about the different seasons and then I might be able to answer properly.
Where do you hope to be in five years’ time? On the list of suppliers for all the boys schools in the UK! I also hope to have raised a good amount for the chosen charity and improving the lives of less fortunate young boys around the country through sports.
Your website link. www.coolboysshoes.com
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