The Be You concept was born in October 2021 after coming to the decision to selling my half of a well established clothing business. For over 8 eight amazing years I had dedicated myself to growing a brand from a local to national level. However something just didn't sit right, I wasn't enjoying it as I once had and wasn’t being my authentic self anymore. It wasn't fair on others within the business, nor was it fair on the customers for that matter for me to continue if my heart was not in it.
And that was it!
All that I had known for the last 8 years had disappeared and I felt bereft.
I began to question my entire being.
- What was my purpose in life?
- Who was I?
- What was I?
- What now?
I had never felt so scared.
I had lost my work family, I missed visiting suppliers and having banter with them, but most importantly I really missed my customers, many of whom had become dear friends and confidantes.
My nearest and dearest were all telling me I was so brave to do such a thing, to walk away from something I’d known for so long and I did feel empowered and totally free, however there was still a part of me that was doubting myself.
For the first couple of weeks I saw it as an opportunity to catch up with old friends that I’d neglected and launched with them to my heart's content. I also turned to wine as an emotional prop and as soon as the school run was done, I’d be slumped on the sofa by 4 pm, glass of Sauvignon in hand and paid the price with chronic heartburn. I was becoming lazier and lazier, and slowly morphing into Waynetta !
My pursestrings suffered a real hammering too as I became an even bigger shopaholic than before. I discovered Russell and Bromley flatform trainers and developed an expensive relationship with them. I spent £400 in one go on 2 pairs, my most extravagant moment ever. However they are the best investments I’ve made and always get complimented when wearing them. Their chunky soles help lengthen the leg and give the illusion of height. I’ve made it my mission to source some very similar ones but at a fraction of the price for YOU… so watch this space.
On the plus side I had a tidy house, in fact I became a bit OCD with tidiness and screamed like a banshee at the husband & kids if they dared to mess the house up. I was even able to do the school run on a daily basis…. not that the kids liked my company…Daisy spent all her time up in her room Netflixing and Patrick spent all his time on his PS5… the only time he surfaced was to come down for some food or beg me for FIFA points.
The novelty of lunching with the ladies, shopping & tidying soon wore off and I began to get itchy feet as I've always worked and my brain was racing all the time and the ‘guilt’ of not working was consuming me.
During the first lockdown in 2020 we’d bought a shop with a flat above off a family friend with the intention to rent the flat out and sell out of date food ( I’d been inspired by folk at the car boot doing it and their stalls were heaving) from the shop below. I toyed with the idea for a while but realistically I could not see me getting all excited and fired up about selling out of date cereal, broken biscuits and obscure flavoured sweets.
It then just dawned on me to do what I did best which was sourcing beautiful clothing and lifestyle products as I knew I had a good eye for best sellers and was born with a passion for retail.
So that was it ,my mind was made up, the creative juices started flowing and ideas were flooding in thick and fast . In the middle of the night I’d wake up bolt upright in bed with ideas jotting them down fervently, poor Paddy ( my hubby ) has never had so many interrupted nights sleep.
At this point I’d also started noting down my daily achievements in a journal called Daily Wins by Jacqueline Kademian. I highly recommend this book which is available on Amazon as it helps keep track of wins, successes, accomplished goals & positive moments. Believe me , nothing is more satisfying than reflecting back of what you’ve achieved , no matter how small you felt it was at the time.
Next, I wrote a business plan and at this time my confidence was boosted as it suddenly dawned on me that I wasn't starting from ‘scratch’ but actually starting from ‘experience’. I had learned so much about business over the last 8 years and most importantly how to communicate with others more effectively.
My vision of what I wanted Be You to look like and how I wanted it to make customers feel was crystal clear from the start. I wanted customers to be their authentic selves just like I had become and wanted to create a space that felt like home from home where like-minded people could come together.
I would spend every spare minute googling suppliers of clothing ,accessories & footwear. It didn’t stop there though, I was soon hunting down suppliers of homeware in my favourite themes of stars, hearts, angel wings and bees. Before I knew it, I had deliveries arriving at my home on pallets as the shop wasn't ready to receive them and my garage started to resemble a warehouse. I just couldn't stop ordering beautiful homewares, although I’d set myself a strict budget ,I just could not resist buying stock. I just kept telling myself ‘it’s ok Louie, it will sell’.
My attention switched to shop fittings and what type of racking I would require for the shop, so the Del Boy within me started scrolling endlessly through Facebook Marketplace. I was determined to hunt down a boutique that had closed down and selling off their fixtures & fittings and to my fortune I stumbled across a lovely lady called Vivian from Tunbridge Wells who had retired from a very successful 30 year old business and was selling everything off. I got all giddy and said I’d be down tomorrow to collect them knowing full well Paddy was off work and had no choice in the matter. I rang my mum to tell her she was sleeping over for the night to look after the kids (she is amazing by the way , 78 years young, fit as a fiddle & will do anything for her family). So we set off down to Royal Tunbridge Wells in our motorhome and what was supposed to be a 4 hour drive turned into an eight hour road trip as Paddy decided to take us on the scenic route up north to North Yorkshire, back down south, collected a fine en route for crossing the Dartford Bridge without paying the toll. Crossing that bloody bridge was an event in itself as my legs turned to jelly when I saw how high and long it was. I thought we were going to drive off the edge of the world !
We finally arrived at Vivian’s and I felt like the universe had meant for me to meet her. She was so generous with her tips and advice from her 30 years experience as a boutique owner and she even offered to take me to Italy and show me where to source clothing directly. I’m going to hold you to that Vivian if you’re reading this!
I was on an all time high, then reality struck and realised I had to do everything myself. My old business had afforded me the luxury of staff to look after the admin & technical side of things. Those things not only bored the shit out of me, they also filled me with terror. Who was going to design my branding, build my website, sort out utility suppliers, set up an email address, sort insurance, set up my Facebook & Instagram accounts?
I had to bite the bullet and just do it. I literally had to ‘eat that frog’..which basically means if I wanted to be successful I had to take immediate action and stop over thinking & procrastinating.
That is when Instagram became my best friend. I know Instagram can often feel like you’re going down a rabbit warren but it really is a fabulous place to find independent businesses. I needed someone to design my brand, not just a pretty logo, someone who would understand my values and stance as a business. That is where I discovered Katy from Wildflower Design. We had a brainstorm over zoom and she nailed it in a day. Katy was totally aligned with me and I cannot recommend her services highly enough. She is only a baby at 21 years old and has her life totally sussed out. When I was 21, I was a Humanities graduate working in a soap factory, going to Take That concerts, drinking pints of snake bites with no bloody idea what I wanted to do in life.
Owning a business throughout the Covid Pandemic had taught me that people's shopping habits had changed dramatically and having a website was crucial and could not succeed with a bricks and mortar store alone. I wanted a website that had similar vibes to the physical store and which would be aligned to my branding. But again, who would I choose to do this for me? Off I went back to Instagram and trawled review after review of various companies and discovered Create8 in Stockport.
Their mission and vision as a business totally resonated with me and their portfolio of previous projects proved to me that they were the ones. Once again I felt like they were so aligned with me (even though I’m old enough to be the mother) and we were all on the same page with the design of the website. This website is by far one of my proudest achievements and I cannot thank the team enough.
Whilst writing this blog, the shop is currently an empty shell awaiting signage, flooring, a new cloakroom, changing rooms & much much more. I hate the bloody mess & just want to skip to the good part.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read this and always remember to