I started A Bag Less Ordinary over a year ago; on November 2017. It's been a real journey, labour of love and lots of serious hard work! Here I take a look back and think about some of the highlights over this time. And next week I will share 5 challenges I've faced as a follow on from this, as running your own small business is not without difficulties and hard times!
Launching my website - it took me months to get my website up and running which is powered by Shopify. And there were days when I felt like I was never going to get it finished. It would of been wonderful to of had someone build it for me but this wasn't an option. But there is also something very satisfying in knowing that it was all your hard work that got it up and running. Shopify is simple enough to use but it is laborious getting all the information, photos and copy uploaded and I remember a few things frazzling my brain! But I am so pleased I did it last year as now it's done I can just keep improving it. It is not my dream website but it is clean and simple and sometimes I think you just need to start, rather than waiting until you can have something perfect. It's a place where I can write blog posts like this, where I can tell my story and sell my products.
Instagram - I rarely used social media before I started ABLO, other than the standard, thoughtless scroll through my Facebook news feed. But back in November 2017 just before I launched the brand, I made a conscious decision to throw myself into creating an Instagram account that would be fun to manage and help my business grow. I aimed to post once a day and apart from a few weeks when I've been on holiday I've kept to this. It doesn't feel like hard work posting on Instagram - I really enjoy it. Along with taking product shots, using Instagram has helped me work on my photography skills and push myself creatively. I have to really think about what I am trying to achieve as a brand as I know that this needs to be conveyed through my Instagram account and all marketing in general. It has also pushed me out of my comfort zone by posting photos of myself, making videos and just generally having to put myself out there!
Made in H&F pop up shop - For 10 weeks from mid October, my accessories were in this pop up which was opened by H&F council and Hammersmith Bid, for makers and creative businesses that lived in the borough. This was the first time ABLO accessories had been in a shop and I was excited but didn't know what to expect. It turned out to be the best thing for my business and gave me a boost of confidence. It's driven me forward with wanting to grow the brand and get ABLO into shops in 2019. What was amazing was all product types sold well for me - large bags, make up bags, glasses cases and purses. And each week my sales increased. I loved merchandising my table and keeping it looking fresh and fully stocked. In the week before Christmas I couldn't keep my table full enough which was both exciting and tiring! I met some lovely customers whilst in the shop and they were all so different which I feel reflects my brand and the area. Hopefully the pop up will reopen in 2019 and I will be sure to apply.
Being in business for over 1 year - I see this an achievement in itself. Only in the last 10 days has my son started going to nursery until 3:15pm, before that he went until 12pm (term time). So I've been running ABLO part time and that is not easy. I feel to really push forward with a business you need to dedicate a lot of time to it but I have only had the hours I've had. This has meant working in the evenings, any spare time I get and not really having time to just do nothing occasionally (for even an hour) for the fear that I am not utilizing the small amount of time that I do have to make the business a success. Around Christmas I felt I was close to burning out. And then there are the months when sales have been slower, or times when things go wrong and I felt I've bitten off more than I can chew :) And the easy option would be to give up, say this is too hard. And I have thought this. But I've kept going and I will keep going, so I can really give this a chance and because I love doing it, it has been my dream for years.
79 Five star reviews on my Etsy shop - Etsy was a great place to start ABLO and has enabled me to reach customers from all over the world. Its easy to use, the customers are lovely and it is inexpensive to run. I feel so pleased and grateful that Etsy customers have often taken time to leave me a review and such wonderful, thoughtful ones too. It really gives me a boost and helps me with the pesky impostor syndrome :)
So they are my five highlights, there are many more but I wanted to keep it short and sweet. Next week I will follow on with my 5 main challenges since starting my handmade accessories business.