Q&A with Sophie
Tell me a bit about yourself, your background and where you are from.
I’m afraid I’m a born and bred Watford girl!! I’m lucky enough though to be surrounded by both my and my husband’s family though so I love it!
Tell me more about The Folly Boutique and how it came about?
When I was planning my wedding in 2012, the first thing I started researching was jewellery. The chunky statement designer pieces I was admiring were completely out of budget ranging from £500-£800. I started to look for places to hire designer statement jewellery online and no such website existed. And so The Folly Boutique was born! I was so excited about the idea but I was working for artist Damien Hirst at the time and the thought of leaving my job to try it out was just too frightening. When I was made redundant it was the push I needed to give it a go and I’ve never looked back!
How did you get to where you are today and what was your career path?
My first ever job as a 16 year old Saturday girl was in a tiny jewellery shop in Watford. I loved it so much and eventually worked my way up to manager. I went off to Uni in Bath to do a BA in Fine Art I spent most of my time working in jewellery shops. I wanted to use my degree and later worked for artist Damien Hirst but realised my heart was really with jewellery. I think my creative background, and courses in personal styling all help with the buying and the running of the business.
What do you love the most about your job?
It really is my dream job and I love it every day. I really enjoy the buying part – I take myself off to Paris and London Fashion Weeks to stock up on the latest season jewellery and I adore seeing all the new jewellery trends each season. But my favourite part of this job is when a customer comes to me with a brief and I can use my knowledge and expertise to find her the perfect item of jewellery for her outfit, wedding, party, event or whatever it may be. Making a customer happy is always the best part of the job.
Have you learnt anything from your job that you didn’t expect?
Definitely how challenging running your own business can be. It was always my ultimate dream to have a jewellery shop but the long and lonely road to get here was definitely hard. It took many months of studying, researching, trial and error but I’ve learnt so much more than I ever imagined and am so proud of what I have achieved.
What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
A huge challenge was writing my business plan and trying to work out exactly how I was going to make this business a success. I did a lot of market research and it took months of hard work before actually starting anything. But I think my biggest challenge was learning to trust my instinct and gut feelings. Not only with business and finance, but mainly with buying. Buying my first season of jewellery was terrifying as I had no customer base yet and had nothing to lead my buying other than some market research, my knowledge of fashion trends and my gut instinct. Securing a huge stock order having no idea whether it will sell or not was terrifying. Funnily enough, a brand I’d never heard of before that I bought absolutely on a whim last minute has ended up being, and still is, my best seller.
I would absolutely love to have a bricks and mortar shop in London one day, where customers can bring an outfit and I can help style their jewellery for them to hire for their event. Online is working well for us at the moment though as online shopping is just so huge. I’d also love to design my own collection too, I’m trying to put all the pieces in place for that to happen. Watch this space!
Any tips for those wanting to start a business?
Plan plan plan! Make sure you spend a lot of time planning every aspect of the business. I thought of every single problem that could go wrong and then worked out how I would get around it. It really helps to see all the little but vital things you might have forgotten. Make sure to do a lot of market research, really you know your market well and adjust your business to suit it. The best bit of advice I was ever given was “don’t run before you can walk”. Take things slowly and don’t give up – you will get there but progress can be slow and successful businesses don’t happen over night!
Find out more about Sophie at http://thefollyboutique.com/