HELP ME BECOME A SHOPSTARTER ON KICKSTARTER!
A beautiful shop unit has unexpectedly become available in my local area,which has been going through some exciting regeneration over the last 8 years, and I'm asking you to pledge money to help fund the opening of the ST LEONARDS STORE so that I can take the next step in developing my business.
The current tenant has already given it a stylish interior makeover that's the perfect fit for my brand - he's mixed copper pipe lighting with narrow white tiles on a feature wall and utilitarian wooden floors.It's got a pared down, contemporary feel that echos the St Leonards brand.
I have been considering opening a bricks and mortar store for some time but as the right unit in the right location hadn't come up, it felt like a future pipe dream. When I got the tip-off about this particular unit, I felt so excited I couldn't sleep for days and it was then I got to thinking how I could quickly raise the additional funds needed.
I've put in £1500 of my own money into raw materials to start making my bag stock and a further £1500 to buy in other stock to open the store with.Even more of a commitment to the project will be my signing the 3 year lease and being responsible for the monthly rent and overheads of the store for at least that period of time.
While I was looking for someone to make a film (Huge thanks to Mauricio at Endwell Productions) so I could pitch here on Kickstarter, I decided not to waste any precious time and started asking for friends and family to support me. So far the response has been incredible - I've already got some great donations and pledges to help me secure the deposit on the lease, but now it's a case of getting the rest of the money together quickly so I can kit out the shop with the right sort of display furniture and accessories like hangers, lighting, display tables, mirrors and other retail equipment. I want the best possible start for my store so I can get started with my dream now!
I'm taking the plunge and signing on the dotted line so all the help you can give me financially to get the shop design looking tip-top will really help me get the best possible start for the business - I want people to love using the shop and enjoy returning again and again, and the environment plays a big role in that. Our High Street is very short of places to shop for clothes, books and gifts, so often we have to resort to buying online or travelling an hour to Brighton or 2 hours to London to get our style fix. As a British designer-maker I also want to use this shop as a way of supporting and championing other British maker's products in the shop space, giving them a new stockist and breathing new life into my local area.With my background in fashion buying I am excited about pulling together a wide variety of products that will give customers a wide range of home and lifestyle staples, things they can wear and use everyday, not just luxury or "special treat" items.
I can also host events in the space connecting more designer-makers together with the local community, making it an exciting hub.
I have been successfully creating stylish bags and accessories for men and women all over the world through my online store for the past 5 years and I feel now's the time for me to give it a real base in the Regency seaside town that's given me the community,friendships, design inspiration, and the big old horizons to get the whole thing started.
The stylish and perfectly formed retail space is on Norman Road, right in the heart of St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex and what's more, it's all ready to move into and has exactly what I'm looking for in terms of light and space to provide my brand with a real bricks-and-mortar shopfront. It has a flexible retail space combined with a back section from I can design and make products as well as host my 1 day leather crafting workshops.
THE BACK STORY:
St Leonards British Made Accessories was founded as a unisex leather accessories brand back in 2010 having sold my beloved Nissan convertible in 2007 to fund the first few rounds of prototypes. Since then the business has been growing slowly but surely and I've been building a loyal band of fans and repeat customers. I now offer bags, purses, laptop and iPad folios and have even started a home body & gift section which I'm hoping to build on when the real shop opens.
WHY A BRICKS-AND-MORTAR STORE?
My aim is to give St Leonards a physical home and destination. That way people can come in and feel the super quality leather, make special custom requests, and buy direct from me as well as being able to ask questions and book onto a bag making workshop. I'd like to also create exciting events linking other designers and makers in my creative seaside town, carefully selecting and showcasing other people's work that has a synergy with mine.
ISN'T EVERYONE ONLINE NOW?
I feel that despite the latest technology and the rapid growth in internet sales, there's nothing like the real life experience and interaction that takes place between the designer- maker and customer inside a REAL store, particularly when the product is something that requires careful thought, touch and FEEL. Many people gasp when they feel the superb quality of the leather I use for my bag designs and I feel my online store sometimes suffered because of this. Once someone orders from me, they tend to return again and again, but being able to hold and touch my designs and get my advice and opinions about which design to choose will really help spread the word and make visiting St Leonards on Sea a worthwhile destination.
Whilst I can't compete with the massive global fashion retailers who have hundreds of thousands of pounds to spend on marketing each year, I can out-do them in terms of customer service, and the ability to advise and respond to what customer's need when they step over the threshold. I know my local community really appreciate independent businesses and loath ordering from online stores that are miles away so I feel I'm doing my bit to get a better selection of products in our exciting seaside town.
SUPPORTING BRITISH & EUROPEAN MAKERS
I love the idea of stocking other British made products to compliment my own, at price points that will keep customers coming in time and time again, and ensuring I have a good quality selection of carefully curated books, shoes, clothes and jewellery for men and women, young and old.When I see something beautifully designed and made elsewhere in Europe I'll be happily selecting product from further afield too!
Having spent years in fashion retail starting as a teen working on Saturdays in Next and Benetton, and in my 20's selling luxury interiors at Designer's Guild, then working for the next 20 years in fashion buying, design and product development for large multiple retailer brands, it feels like an exciting and natural progression for me to open the doors to my own store and intereact with customers face-to-face rather than online as I currently do. I also feel strongly that as the brand is named after this town and many of the products are named after the local streets, it's a natural progression to create the store here in my home town and contribute to its economic growth and prosperity.
I'm looking to raise £3000 over the next couple of weeks in order to get the start-up money I need together to make my dream happen quicker than I'd planned for!
Reward #2 Limited Edition St Leonards Shop Colouring Book Card
Reward #3 Losenge Key fob
Reward #4 Limited Edition Colouring Book
Risks and challenges
As the business itself isn't new, I started it online over 5 years ago and I've been able to start up an ostensibly luxury business during the depths of a global recession, I feel up for this next exciting challenge. Having spent over 15 years working to tight deadlines and mass production critical paths within the fashion industry, I feel capable of managing and directing the project so that I can get my dream shop stocked and open in a timely manner. My confidence will go sky high if you're able to pledge and support my campaign! (smiles)
Having worked in the fashion industry buying,selecting and developing product for other brands I feel confident I can source and select a wide range of products across all categories for my own store.
I need the full amount pledged in order to win the prize of the target so I get the shop kitted out and open while we still have good weather and lots of visitors to our town during their Summer holidays. I need not only YOUR help but all your friends' and colleague's too, to spread the word about my campaign and to make donations to the kitty.
I hope that the pledge prizes will entice you to help out in any way you can - as every single pound helps to build towards the total I need.
I can't open the store with my stock arranged on the floor…I need you help to make this concept fly!
1) The shop I have my eye on, won't still be available when the campaign ends or when I scrutinise the lease, it turns out not to be right for me:
How I resolve this: Even if this shop gets snapped up, I still intend to open a physical store. It will just mean I have to keep you all informed and update you while I look for an alternative unit to come up.
2) That I open the shop and don't make any sales:
How I resolve this: Well, I think that's a natural concern to have, but I think with the research I'm currently doing locally and the fact that I have the skills to actually make my own products, means I can adjust my product offer, re-work and adapt things and make quick changes without being saddled with lots of stock I can't shift.
I'm adding other designer's products to my offer which will compliment what I do and I'm going to be paying particular interest in showcasing local and national designer-makers and British made goods to stock the shop with.
I will carefully curate the look and style of the products available in the shop to ensure the brand remains stylish and bold looking.
I'm going to make sure that the store appeals to both men and women as there's nowhere currently for men to shop or for women to buy gifts for men.
I started my business in the depths of a global recession. I'm a grafter and will do my very best to make it a success.
I intend to have a broad range of prices so there's something for everyone. That way, whether you have £2.50 or £250 to spend, you'll be able to purchase something nice.
I'm investing £3000 of my own money in raw materials and stock to open the store.
I already use social media to spread the word about my brand, so I'll continue this when the shop is open and I will also pay for some local newspaper advertising to let everyone know that the St Leonards Store has arrived!
I make sales every month from people who order from me online who don't know me, can't feel the product or smell the amazing leather materials, or have me help them to style their bags on their bodies, so I feel positive that with beautiful window displays and exciting products I will be able to make good sales, adjusting my offer and product selection throughout the year as required.
By having real, LIVE customers coming into the store, giving me their comments and feedback I can make quick adjustments to my offer and cater to their needs much more speedily than when I sell online.
I also think the regeneration of the street, which has changed drastically since I moved down here in 2007, the fact that Hastings & St Leonards is becoming a more popular destination for holidays and weekend breaks, is being regularly featured as the "town to watch" in terms of property, desirability, and and and that teamed with with the recent opening of the Kino Teatr cinema across the road, there's a new and more affluent audience to target.
I also feel it gives the brand a more professional feel so if buyers come to visit it feels more visually appealing then inviting them to my home.
GETTING STOCK FOR THE NEW STORE:
I am able to spend the next few months making new product to sell in the store and I have also started asking people if they will supply some of their products to me on a Sale or Return basis to get started and launched. My local area is full to the brim of creative talent so I won't be short on adding fresh stock to my store.So far I've contacted people who make organic skin care products (I already stock Evolve beauty)
SHOP FITTING & DISPLAY:
Decoratively speaking the shop is ready to move into right now so there's no need for an expensive shop fit but I will need to buy shelving, a few garment rails, a changing room booth and other bits of furniture to make the shop inviting and practical.
TIL POINT & PAYMENTS:
I already own an iZettle card reader machine so I can take card payments the moment the doors open.
All the equipment I use for my workshops can be transferred across to this new space without any fuss. There's a kitchenette for offering attendees drinks and a toilet which is essential for people spending the day with me.
I have already done teaching and mentoring and enjoy bringing people together to share skills so this shop space would also make the ideal venue for getting designers and makers together in a creative space. It will be nice to host networking evenings too to get other creative folk together and I can showcase local artists' work on the walls intermittently too.
I'm asking for £3,000 funding to pay for the following:
To create and build display storage for the store which includes things like console tables,
a payment til point,
a shop-front sign writer,
a full length mirror
a screen or curtain to create a changing booth.
I'd also like to have enough money to be able to pay for some marketing to support the shop's opening with printed advertising in the local newspaper ( £200)
Fulfilling the assorted pledges and the Kickstarter commission will also come out of this amount.
FULFILLING THE REWARDS:
I am excited about creating the rewards for all the people who pledged their hard-earned money and feel that if there are any delays beyond my control, I'll be able to keep people updated and offer solutions to solve the problem.
I hope that everyone will be thrilled with the rewards they receive, but if they're not, I'm really sorry but I won't be able to offer a refund. I am, however, sure a suitable exchange can be offered instead.
- (20 days)