Jessica Goudkuil, etailer owner/manager

Jessica is the owner/manager of Bead Boutique, an etailer selling beads and jewellery components. Jessica gained a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Business Management and Marketing at Harper Adams University before beginning her marketing career in a pharmaceutical company, then moving to an insulation firm, where she gained marketing experience including e-commerce and advertising. In her spare time, Jessica
joined a silversmithing group and while looking for less expensive ways to make jewellery she investigated buying her own materials. This inspired her to launch Bead Boutique in 2010, in a shop that she describes as ‘the size of a small dining room’ on the main street of Long Melford in rural Suffolk. The shop created a lot of interest and after six months she moved to a slightly larger outlet nearby. She also set up a website, initially
on the net and if it doesn’t come up you might have lost that lead.
Jessica feels that having a website with a good aesthetic standard makes customers more confident about making payments on it. She also considers that an advantage of selling solely online is that the timing of her work is more flexible, without the commitment of opening a shop six days a week.
Since the business moved online, Jessica has continued to run beading parties and workshops at people’s houses or in hired premises around Suffolk. Her target customers are women in a wide variety of age groups, starting with ‘little beaders’ children’s birthday parties. Her classes are also popular for hen parties where she teaches them to make pearl jewellery, teaming up with another company that puts on vintage tea parties. ‘Retired ladies’ also form part of Bead Boutique’s target market. Jessica caters for teenagers by supplying jewellery-making kits with step-by-step guides that are often bought as presents. She also offers free jewellery-making project guides on the website and YouTube.
Bead Boutique uses several methods of promotion, including digital marketing communications. Jessica pays for SEO from the company who built the website, to achieve a high position on search engines. She’s also registered on business guide Yelp and uses Google Analytics to assess where customers come from. Bead Boutique has a database of around 600 customers that can be used very effectively for direct marketing, as a single email offering a discount recently generated £1000 in additional turnover.
Jessica has found that 34 per cent of the customers on her database read emails from Bead Boutique, which she has been told is higher than average. She can also communicate with customers through her blog and reply directly to queries via Twitter or phone, to replace some of the interaction she gave in person in the shop. Free postage is offered by Bead Boutique above a specific order value and at certain times on all orders, to help increase sales. In terms of traditional media, the company advertises in local glossy magazines such as Suffolk Life, as well as featuring in editorial content, which Jessica considers portray a better quality image than newspaper adverts. She also advertises in specialist magazines such as Make & Sell Jewellery and Crafts Beautiful.
Jessica requires a variety of skills to run an online business. She needs creative and technical abilities
to promote the store and then began selling online. Bead Boutique moved to a larger store the following year, with a well-lit, spacious upper floor for holding jewellery-making classes. However, these premises were further away from the village’s main shopping area and supermarket, so footfall was reduced and the extra space doubled the overheads, making the store less financially viable.
Being a niche retailer, in that it has a narrowly focused product range with a wide assortment, Bead Boutique was more suited to continuing as a purely online retailer, to appeal to customers in a wider geographical area. Jessica explains how she made this decision:
We got to the point where people from the next town were buying online from us and it became apparent that shopping online was becoming far easier than buying from the shop because of opening hours. Customers were buying online in the evening after work and it appeared that the shop could become redundant. Setting up the website was costly at first but for any business now, regardless of what you do, people will always look you up
to make jewellery and loves making new products but says that she has to be prepared for ideas to not work sometimes. She uses YouTube and Pinterest to pick up new ideas for jewellery-making. Jessica puts her marketing knowledge into practice when writing a SWOT Analysis for the business, maintaining an awareness of her competitors and planning marketing communications. She uses communication skills in many ways to deal with her customers and suppliers, which include wholesalers, printers, web designers and advertising companies. She also uses negotiation skills, e.g. when approaching her suppliers to request lower minimum order quantities. She uses her planning and organisational skills, as well as self-motivation, for administration and keeping stock levels up-to-date, packing and posting. Jessica likes the flexibility and independence of running her own business, but she says this also creates a lot of responsibility:
You’re not having anyone to tell you what to do every day, although sometimes it would be quite nice. You’re your own boss and if you make a mistake you haven’t got anyone to blame except yourself, which can be quite tough really, so setting up the business was quite a gamble at the start. I enjoy teaching and having appointments with people but meeting people every day in the shop was taking its toll a little bit.
Jessica offers the following advice for anyone planning to set up a small independent retailer:
Work out your daily calculations as to how much it costs to run a shop before you even put the key in
the door, so you know what you need to take in the till. Mine was £69 per day. Also, when developing branding get a few different concepts first because it’s your front-of-house and it needs to be kept updated and adapted across all sorts of media. If you’ve got a USP you need to put that
on your business card. Finally, build good relationships with advertisers and suppliers and get them on your side, because this will be to your benefit.

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