In our new series “I am an Entrepreneur”, we interview entrepreneurs from every sector to bring you inspirational business insights.
Our first Entrepreneur is the award winning Aleena Lippiatt of Aleena’s boutique in Glasgow. Here is what happened when we interviewed the lady herself…
How did Aleena’s Boutique get started?
With over 8 years in the fashion and retail industry and a BA honours degree in fashion, I decided I wanted to put all my knowledge to good use and open my own boutique.
How long have you been in business now?
Aleena’s Boutique has now been trading for 2 years and 3 months. I can’t believe how quickly it goes.
How did you choose your location? Did you consider local competition?
I wanted my boutique to be easily accessible so I opted for a local Main Street as opposed to the City Centre high street. I visited premises in many different area’s however Shettleston [a residential and commercial area in the East End of Glasgow] came out on top as it was near to my home and I knew a lot of the community. The rent was also cheapest and there was no local competition. It is important to consider everything when choosing a location for a retail store; you must make your business as profitable as possible.
Have you seen a change in local competition, has it grown as your success becomes more well know?
I actually haven’t noticed an increase in local competition as I feel that many people honestly appreciate that it isn’t an easy thing to do, especially in the area I am located.
We understand you do celebrity styles, how do you feel those boost your profile with customers?
My customers love celebrity styles; a lot of today’s fashion is heavily influenced by celebrity style. So anything celebrities wear or anything celeb inspired always sells out quickly. Business is all about good customer service and providing what people want, so bringing these celeb styles in for my customers really helps.
What is the most difficult thing about running a retail business?
There are many difficulties when it comes to running a retail business but what defines you is how you overcome them.
One is choosing the correct stock for my customers; I have managed to overcome this problem by simply asking my customers what they want and trying my best to get it in for them at a reasonable price and good quality.
The most difficult thing for me is budgeting. As a small business my money needs to stretch a long way and budgeting correctly helps my business reach its full potential. With a lot of things in business I overcome this with trial and error.
How do you market your store? How do you feel about digital marketing and its growth, is it bad or good for your business?
My main source of marketing is social media! These platforms help the business massively, as I can advertise to a wide audience for free. I think the digital marketing growth is fantastic; it is going to do wonders for my business. I can honestly say that my business wouldn’t be as successful if it wasn’t around.
As a young entrepreneur what did you find were the biggest challenges when it came to understanding tax and business planning?
The biggest challenge is not having enough help. I didn’t know where to begin. I was lucky as I came across some organisations that help young people in business. I am constantly learning new things every day and I always go to workshops and seminars to learn as much as I possibly can. Seek out help where you can.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting their own business?
I had always wanted my own business but wanted to make sure I had enough valuable experience before diving in. I would definitely recommend getting some work experience, you want learn as much as possible to ensure you are clued up when it comes to starting your own business. The first 2 years of business are the hardest and it’s crucial to make the best possible decisions for your business in the beginning so you have a good foundation for the future. I would also advise attending business events as this is a great way to network and make business contacts
Start up’s should also consider that there are lots of outgoings, the majority of which I didn’t think of until I was already in business. My advice would be to consider things like a deposit for premises (usually 3 months’ rent), business rates, electricity, gas, rent and accountants, solicitor fees. For my business I also have to consider costs of material and stock, website-web hosting, SEO, photographers, make- up artist and models.
How would your customers describe you in 3 words?
Friendly, ambitious, helpful.