Two redundancies within two years is a sign of the tough economy the UK is going through at the moment. My name is Samantha Storey, aged 38 and mum of one 16 year old and this was the situation I was faced with earlier this year. After having worked for around nine years with children and adults who had metal health difficulties in a fast paced environment with a heavy workload I wanted time to get back in touch with my creative side. Redundancy can be a very tough and financially difficult time for anyone; it can also be a really positive experience which is how I have found it to be.
Growing up I always had an interest in fossils, crystals and gemstones which was cultivated by spending time with my dad Chris combing the beaches of Lincolnshire for pretty stones, shells and interesting finds. I have always enjoyed learning new skills and making things; eight years ago I went to my local college to undertake a silversmithing evening course as I loved jewellery and wanted to make my own. Time wasn’t on my side at that time, my son was still fairly young and I worked very long hours in a demanding job so my passion for making jewellery remained a hobby.
When I found out I was being made redundant for the second time in two years I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to turn my hobby into a business making unique semi-precious gemstone jewellery. I went back to college to start back with my silversmithing course and went on a lot of specialist professional workshops which gave me the confidence to really build on my existing skills. The best advice I could give to anybody looking to set up their own business is to gain as much knowledge, research and expertise in your chosen field as possible. I have had a fantastic six months visiting all sorts of Rock and Gems trade shows to make some great industry contacts and have also built up a useful online support network by linking in with other jewellery designers. I also had a look at what resources were available to me locally and found that in North East Lincolnshire where I live there are some really good projects available through our E-Factor Business Hive to support both Women in Business and also New Start Ups.
When starting up a new business you don’t have to go through it all alone, get as much help as possible from where ever you can find it including friends, family and local business support groups. My son Callum is 16 and it has been challenging for us both at times trying to set up a new business and support him through his GCSE exams and the transition to attending college, that’s when your Supermum multi-tasking skills really come in useful. My husband and parents are my biggest sources of help and support; I even managed to get my husband to do a craft fair on his own when I double booked myself one weekend. I think he quite enjoyed talking to all the ladies about gemstones and jewellery.
So what did I decide to call my fledgling new business? Naming your company is always a tricky one to reflect your style and products. A good starting point when you come up with a few names is to check Companies House, are there any companies registered with the name you would like to use? Even if you don’t intend to become a registered company and want to stay as a Sole Trader initially the Companies House data base is great for getting an idea of what names are already in use. I also wanted to buy a domain name so that when I start to grow my business further in 2015 I can create my own website. After much searching and thought the name I eventually came up with was Chez Lola. I work from home creating my jewellery in my studio wanted a name to reflect this and Chez is French for house or place of business. Having a French inspired name it was hoped would bring a bespoke boutique feel to my range of jewellery. At home I have two gorgeous British Shorthair cats Brody and Lola who loves all things sparkly as much as I do, she loves to watch on as I make my designs and helps track down any stray dropped beads. Chez Lola therefore seemed a natural choice of names to reflect who I am and where I work.
I officially launched Chez Lola on Saturday 25th October this year having managed to get myself invited to bring my jewellery stall to the promotional launch event at a local premium brand car sales garage. It was a brilliant weekend that was the start of many local shopping, charity and pampering events that I attended. As a newbie in the world of business I felt obliged to say yes to every event that came my way just as a means of getting my company name out there and also growing my online Facebook business page www.facebook./chezlolagems With the beauty of hindsight comes the knowledge that it is ok to say no and if you make your own products you have to leave enough time in the day to do this and go to events and keep on top of custom orders. Needless to say launching to catch the Christmas shopping market has given some fantastic much needed sales of our stunning semi-precious gemstone jewellery and accessories such as wine charms and book marks that can be personalised if wanted.
We are an ethical company who want to give back to local communities by donating 10% of profits to local charities. The Charities will be picked once a quarter, suggestions can be made by contacting us on Facebook or e-mailing us at [email protected] The Charity we have picked for the first quarter is The Ark Animal Rescue and Retirement Home based at North Somercotes as in the run up to Christmas many animals are abandoned. Being a small charity that does some fantastic work they need all the help they can get and also kindly accept donations of animal feed and bedding.
Special Mumpreneur Offer
In order to celebrate our first ever Christmas trading at Chez Lola we would like to offer all Mumpreneur readers a fantastic 10% discount off all orders placed up until December 12th 2014 when our Christmas order Book closes. Just quote the following code when ordering either through our Facebook page or via e-mail: MUM2014
How can I order Chez Lola products?
We really appreciate your interest in our range of jewellery. If you would like to order a either a commission design or one of our range of stock items please
♥ send us a message on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/chezlolagems
♥ e-mail us through our Facebook page or at [email protected]