I had a vision for what the shop would be, not so much what it would look like but what it would mean to people. That’s the kind of thing that people don’t forget, that they come back for.
It's not just about place. It's about the people in it.
Swing dance friends would still come by and stop for a cup of tea and a catch-up, but our customer base was growing. We now had a transactional website and I was learning about SEO in addition to running our social media. Word of mouth was spreading online as well as offline.
I remember lots of customers from the early days, not just my swing dancing friends and acquaintances, but the women who discovered the boutique in the early days. These women changed my perception of my business, my customers and our future, and I learned from them. They pushed me out of my comfort zone, gave me unexpected feedback and showed me a different potential route forward.
One highlight was my first big spender. She was an expat living in Hong Kong, working in finance, or maybe she even had her own finance company. I remember being in awe. She tried on lots of things, we had great conversations and she ended up buying nearly everything she tried. This was the biggest shock ever - I tried not to show it but I probably failed!
I had started this company selling to women like me, with friends like us, who lived in shared houses on shoestring budgets. This woman not only shook me out of my limited customer insights, she showed me that someone in very different circumstances to me loved my product, loved my shop and loved everything about what I was doing.
On so many levels that one simple interaction taught me to stop judging everything by my own personal experience.
We’ve grown in so many different ways since the early days. We’ve kept listening and we’ve continued to build on our success. I still listen to my gut, but I’ve also taught myself to look at the bigger picture and focus on what my experience tells me is most relevant and important.