Natalie Lambert-Imalingat is the owner of Nyla Rose ltd and winner of the Inspirational Business Mum of the Year Awards 2014. Her business is an online emporium of all things vintage, selling vintage fashion as well as shabby chic gifts and homeware.
Natalie was kind enough to share her story for BizBritain's readers in the guest article below:
I first had the idea to set up the business when my daughter was a few months old and I was casually browsing online at Christmas gifts and outfits. I have always been a lover of vintage reproduction fashion and am also a huge fan of shabby chic gifts and homeware; when browsing I realised that there was no website out there that was combining both of these loves. At that time I was on maternity leave from my previous role in Recruitment and was facing the prospect of a transfer or redundancy. I had always wanted to run my own business and thought- sod it! New baby, new challenge, and decided to take the redundancy route.
When my daughter was 6 months old I received a bit of money from my redundancy package and from that bought £4,000 worth of stock and joined a local market stall selling my wares a few days a week! The camaraderie on the market was brilliant- you meet some right characters and it was a refreshing change from the corporate environments I had always worked in. I loved speaking to my customers in person and getting an idea of what their body hang ups were, or what sort of gift they were looking for. When I was on the market I set up a Facebook page to generate local interest in the stall to encourage people to buy from me locally. The page grew steadily, and after about 6 months I decided to leave the market and concentrate the business online. However much I loved the market, I saw potential in expanding the business online to take advantage of the Facebook community I had built up. I worked with a friend who had experience in web design and together we launched the website in October 2012.
The website has been relatively successful with an increase of sales much month on month since we launched 15 months ago (taking into account seasonal lulls!) I now have a small team of 8 and we have recently moved into our first proper business premises. The team help with the day to day running of the business (customer services/ dispatch etc) to allow me to work on the management, finance and strategic overview. Basically, in a nutshell, to ensure our longevity.
I get asked all the time what experience I have in running a business- the truth is I have absolutely none! I have no retail experience and no marketing experience, and no real management experience. I haven’t even been on any courses as I’ve been too busy (irony I think?!) I have simply learn as I’ve gone along as the business has grown and I genuinely think it has made me better at it. From having no marketing experience I have successfully built a Facebook page of 140,000, almost exclusively without paid advertising, by just doing what I found to work, without following set rules or any preconceptions. I have learnt what has worked and run with it. I have made mistakes along the way (who doesn’t) but the key is- make them quickly, don’t dwell on them, and just move on. Look back when you have to, but always look forward.
You have to learn to be fluid and wide open to change- if you are stuck in your ways of how you expect something to work it can make it difficult to progress your business forward. Don’t be afraid of change- embrace it. You will be a better leader through having the conviction to make difficult decisions.
I am not going to lie here- excusing my French, running a business is bloody hard work. Long hours, sleepless nights, the odd pessimist doubting you. Blood, sweat, tears. The highs are high and the lows are low. The real beauty in being an entrepreneur is having a dream and watching it come true and seeing exactly what you are capable of- after all, isn’t that what we are here to do, fulfil our destiny’s, whatever they may be?
Find your passion, believe in it, and run with it. It will be the most exhilarating thing you will ever do.
Natalie Lambert-Imalingat, Winner of the Inspirational Business Mum of the Year Awards 2014, MumpreneurUK, out of 3,000 applicants.
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