Today we are welcoming another new small business chat interviewee – this latest crop of new ones have been really interesting, haven’t they, and I hope we have them to stay on the roster for a good few years to come. Lindsey Gordon is the proud owner of the I Want Something … Gift Shop, which she only started at the beginning of this year – however, as you’ll see, Lindsey has run her own business before, selling children’s clothing, so she wasn’t a complete novice. I’m seeing an interesting theme about employers not being flexible or understanding for their workers, and I think this is a great loss to those employers, although a good thing for the self-employed community. Why does this still happen when there are more regulations than ever encouraging employers to be flexible? Anyway, rant over, let’s meet Lindsey and see how she’s doing …
Hello, Lindsey! What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
I set up I Want Something… Gift Shop in January 2014
What made you decide to set up your own business?
Since having my first child in 2006, and not having the most understanding or flexible employers when I returned to work, I always wanted to work for myself so that I could spend valuable time with my children, but keep myself (relatively) sane with something for myself, too. I’ve never been the most confident person, but after our middle child was born sleeping in 2008, I knew life is just too short, and I wanted to show my children that when you put your mind to it, anything is possible.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I had been selling children’s clothing online and was finding it increasingly difficult to find quality, unique clothing that didn’t break the bank. In 2012 I purchased my first embroidery machine, sourced quality blank t-shirts and started creating unique embroidered children’s clothing. It didn’t take long before I expanded from children’s clothing to adults, then bags, towels, and lots of personalised gifts.
Had you run your own business before?
I originally started Belle Bambini, selling children’s clothing, but once I expanded my product range I decided that the name didn’t really suit what I was doing anymore and with a little inspiration from my then two-year-old daughter, I Want Something… was born.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
At the moment I work around the children. Our youngest goes to nursery 1½ days a week and between us we juggle school runs so that I get 2 days to work on my business and the rest is done around the children in the evenings, etc. Once our daughter starts school full-time in September this year, I’ll have more time.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
Hmmm…nothing really that I can think of. I always knew running my own business would mean long hours, a lot of juggling, hard work and a rollercoaster of emotions. Everything else I think you have to learn as you go along – the good and the bad.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Don’t let what other people are doing distract you from your own goals and plans. It’s very easy (especially if you’re not very self-confident) to get disheartened when it’s very quiet and your competitors seem like business is booming. You have to push through those ‘wobbly’ days and keep focused on what it is you’re creating for yourself.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I knew then what I know now there are suppliers I wouldn’t use, products I wouldn’t buy in, and more research I’d of done. I think you have to learn from your mistakes as you go really. I do wish I’d planned better and been more organised from the start.
What are you glad you did?
Took the chance. It would have been much easier to not take that initial leap but I wouldn’t have met some of the amazing people who I’ve met (both customers and other business owners) or had that buzz of creating something that (hopefully!) makes your customers just as happy.
What’s your top business tip?
Plan. Have a clear idea of what you want to do, where you want to get to, and how you’re going to get there. Sure, not everything will work out exactly how you initially think, but when you have clear goals it keeps you focused and gives you a measure of what’s working and what isn’t as you grow.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
I’ve definitely diversified. Now, children’s t-shirts are just a small part of what I do. It’s difficult to grow at the moment as I’m restricted by time and I’d rather not take on more work at the expense of customer service, but I’m happy to have such a wide range of products that keep every day different.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
In a year’s time I’ll have more working hours which will hopefully have allowed me to expand my customer base. I’d like to be well on the way to being able to afford a larger embroidery machine, which will cut down on the time it takes to embroider each item and allow me to introduce some new products that my current machine just can’t work with. Hopefully I’ll have been able to attend more markets and fairs, allowing me to spread the word about I Want Something… face to face locally.
What a sensible lady, and with good, sensible plans going forward. It’s always good to look to the future and push yourself a little bit, but not over-extend yourself, and it looks to me like Lindsey’s got that sorted out. What a good example to her children she’ll be as they grow up with their entrepreneurial mum (and supportive dad, of course). I hope we’re hearing more about that new embroidery machine this time next year!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.