Lessons You Learn Along the Way

Having a retail business (as you know from our past blog), is fraught with small nightmare issues that come up time and time again. Not only is it one of the only businesses that has major upfront costs like rent, rates and staffing costs, it also has a massive stock investment and to top it all, you don’t have an order book – so to all intent and purposes you have no customers before you open your doors. So you can wave goodbye to a lot of money especially if you get your collection wrong. What’s worse if you can’t attract enough customers, well that’s another problem.. Wow it’s depressing..

So back to number 35.. thankfully we have a really loyal following. Our clients do like our clothes, but yes we do make mistakes and we do sometimes design atrocious pieces of clothing that I look at and just want to cry. My problem, coming from Yorkshire, is I am a bit too honest for my own good. I have been known to say to some clients, “that looks awful, take it off”… great saleswomen heh!!!? Back to the story, when I opened our Highgate showroom I really didn’t want to sale our clothes. They were all really lovely and marking something down which our clients still enjoyed wearing seemed wrong. So sales came and sales went, and me being reluctant, didn’t want to really mark the clothes down. I remember buying a fabulous skirt from Selfridges that I loved… 2 days later it went in the sale and I never felt the same about the skirt again. Madness..

All of sudden this season I decided to go completely mad.. and all I had in my head was my father’s voice saying ”mark down, even if it’s next to nothing and free up your cash”.. Wow did I take this on board.. So last Sunday (got there in the end) we did a Super Sale Sunday. Everything was either 50% off or 70% off. Customers loved the idea and we sold sooo many pieces. We freed up cash, sold plenty of old stock and had fun in the process.

The moral of this story is: don’t be afraid to spring clean your stock. You have invested heavily in your retail business, so don’t be mad like me and hold onto stock thinking one day it will walk out and you’ll make full margin.. It won’t. The main lesson in business is learn from other people’s mistakes instead of your own.