We've had a bumpy ride in the UK the last few years and small shops such as ours have had to be brave, resilient and dead set on understanding our customers and how best to serve them.
Thank goodness for being small, for believing in what we do, for caring enough to want to overcome all the obstacles and having loyal people who believe in us enough to help make that happen.
As the economy groans, the fashion industry continues to implode and the high street suffers, I have to look around and think that, actually, Revival Retro is doing pretty well. Looking at some of the big companies who for the last decade have been exalted as leaders and success stories, now you have to wonder if actually they were examples of how not to do business!
One of the things I am glad i had the foresight to prioritise three years ago was the development of our own range of clothing. So far we have focussed on mix and match separates and outerwear, working hard to ensure we create well fitting garments, with timeless appeal and quality that will last. It's a huge learning curve so an attitude of slow and steady was my intention focussing on Autumn/Winter styles, but it's funny how things work out!
Last year i had no intention of developing a line of summer clothing within our own range but between August and October as we talked to friends, we watched the news, we listened to announcements and we saw the writing on the wall I realised that in order to meet our customer's expectations we were going to have to 'roll our sleeves up" and get working on new products in house.
There are so many changes in the industry, the economy and the world, everything as we know it has been disrupted by the internet yet every day in our London small shop we talk to people who still want to connect and still want to buy.
Business is changing in the UK as we adapt to the modern, global world and with Brexit on 31st January this will also further change our business relationships, our relationship to the world and how the world sees us. I have already begun to see this in our supplier relationships from the day after the referendum
Whereas we used to have a large range of suppliers to buy from, that number has in recent years got smaller and smaller, some have gone bust and some have changed what they do. Also, internally we must consider the commercial objectives that will ensure we get through this bumpy period and reflect on the values we consider important as we set out to achieve our goals, this affects who we choose to do business with from that smaller pool.
As a UK small business trying to meet and exceed our customers expectations our plans to develop our own range have intensified and sped up as we take more control over bringing more products to market, choosing what when and how according to our values and our goals.
Designing and manufacturing our own products has really helped us define who we are and what we stand for, we are very aware that we are not just making units to sell we are making a statement about Revival Retro and building our brand in front of a global audience. Our geographical London shop location and British culture are hugely important to our identity, they are also factors that affect other peoples perceptions of us, especially after Brexit.
A hugely rewarding part of this for me is that the whole team are engaged and excited as everyone knows we are creating something special. All employees are genuinely encouraged to feedback and play a huge part in the process. It's not just about what we make either but how, as it often depends on the capacity and resources of the people in the business many of whom work flexible hours and have other commitments, to decide what we can achieve.
I would like to hire more staff to help us grow but the cost of doing business in London is high and through a great period of change and uncertainty, cashflow is more important than ever. I had hoped that new business rates policies would allow us reallocate funds to new job creation but our London shop, like many other small businesses in the capital are excluded from any relief.
There's also more choices to be made on what external partners we work with as we move in to design and manufacturing. There's our choice that our clothing will be 'Made in Britain' which you can read more about as well as new levels of control over ethical and sustainable issues when sourcing fabrics, buttons, etc As a small business we are constantly seeking knowledge, expertise and guidance to help us make the best decisions.
The entrepreneurial part of me thrives on the challenge. Small businesses are highly resilient, we are more flexible due to our small size and despite the obstacles we are always looking for the opportunities, the chink of light, the way through, the foothold that allows us to climb.
Developing our own range of products is my foothold. With the UK's departure from the EU on 31 Jan I look, beyond the uncertainty of Brexit, for the opportunities to grow and scale my business in 2020 and beyond. With a trusted and respected brand, with great people and fanstastic products at the heart of it, I see no reason why Revival Retro won't succeed.