Sometimes you have to lose the job you love to find a new way of life…
After a monumental career in the Police, working my way up to senior leadership level as a civilian, financial challenges started to bite the public sector. With redundancies taking place across the board, I managed to effectively restructure myself out of a role and the career I loved after almost 10 years of service. I was devastated.
Feeling dejected but with children at home and a mortgage to pay, you do what you can to move forward and luckily I managed to secure a top-level role as a consultant for IBM. After two years the job just wasn’t floating my boat as working in the Police did, and when financial challenges and the changing economy started to threaten the private sector, I began considering my options. As IBM started shedding jobs, things in my personal life were also changing. My marriage had ended and I’d met someone else. My eldest daughter, Harriet, had also given birth to my first grandchild, a beautiful little girl called Gracie. With so many life changes happening and facing the threat of being made redundant for a second time, I found myself reconsidering what I really wanted out of life. So I decided to become master of my own destiny!
I’ve always had a penchant for lovely things. Not just aesthetically pleasing products but things with an interesting story behind them. In particular, I have a passion for artisanal produce, locally made, that steer clear of nasty ingredients or unsavoury production methods. I knew I wanted to start my own business doing something I felt passionately about; I’m a firm believer in putting your life and soul into something in order to make it a success. I’ve always been good at setting up projects and plans for others and decided that all the experience I’ve gained over the years, along with my dogged determination to succeed, would stand me in good stead to start my own business – so I just did it. Taking my passion for lovely things I worked on an idea, fleshed out a business plan, and checked that my nearest and dearest were happy to support me. I’ve never looked back!
I launched Pinkbox Boutique with my daughter Harriet in August 2013. Our online gift shop is full of original products, many from small UK manufacturers, which fits with our ethos of selling local produce with a story behind them. We constantly add to our range of jewellery, scarves, accessories, homeware, new baby gifts and foodie treats and we’re always on the lookout for new suppliers that offer something a bit different. I’ve met so many clever and inspiring producers since I started PinkBox Boutique and our customers love hearing about the stories behind each product and why we think they’re so special.
While the online shop ticks over nicely, the most successful area of our business is our Boutique at Home events – a pop-up department store at your choice of venue. We visit homes, village halls, markets and schools. Originally launched in Wiltshire (where we’re based) interest has grown so much in the past year that we plan on making the events available across the country, which is super exciting! Our new customers and potential new team recruits will find that we are very different to any other ‘party plan’ businesses. I believe we will be successful if our people are successful; people are capable of achieving amazing things given the right support, motivation and encouragement.
At the heart of our business is great customer service. By that, I mean doing the right thing by our customers – giving the best information, providing the best products and if anything ever goes wrong sorting it out fairly. We get a kick out of delighting our customers with little surprises they don’t expect!
While my life has changed since launching PinkBox Boutique, I wouldn’t change a single thing. So okay I work significantly longer hours than I used to, but I love what I do so it’s never a problem. We are very much a family business and while Harriet is currently on maternity leave with baby no. 2, my youngest daughter Jemima, a natural sales person, helps out when she can, and my partner Chris can always be relied on to graciously load and unload our stock as we take it out to parties or the various events we attend (he’s very good at it).
Aside from family help, I’ve had to find the right people to work with who complement my business and vision. There are certain things I don’t enjoy, or aren’t particularly good at but still have to be done, so I’ve delegated those jobs out to people who are brilliant at them. I’ve also found it very difficult to keep on top of marketing my business as effectively as I run it; marketing is absolutely everything so I’ve engaged an agency who do most of our website, design and social media. They are all ladies and absolutely get what I do so we work very well together – they were a great choice. We did have to ‘kiss a few frogs’ before we found them though.
After such an eventful year we are now looking forward to 2015 and our plans for growth. We hope to become the UK’s favourite party plan shopping at home offering and maintain that position in ways that constantly delight our customers and consultants.
In the midst of all the excitement and activity, I believe it’s important to consider how much we’ve grown as a business. PinkBox Boutique has come a hell of a long way in a very short space of time and sometimes you need to sit back and take stock of this and everything that has happened – it’s chicken soup for the soul when you’ve had your nose to the grind for so long and the way ahead still looks like a mountain to climb.
I can’t imagine going back to a desk job. I love the fact that every day is different and if I don’t like something, I can do something about it. I’m very proud of everything we are achieving with PinkBox Boutique and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
For more information visit: www.pinkboxboutique.co.uk
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