Promoting the fair trade cause: Retailer Q&A with The Home Decor Company
Though navigating the economic downturn continues to challenge many stores, one of the fascinating subtexts has been the growth of new independent retailers, sometimes borne out of individuals who have faced redundancy – perhaps in the public sector – and who have sensed the opportunity to take on a new and different challenge in the retail world.
Founded in September this year by Newcastle-based Adrienne and Kevin Rucroft, The Home Decor Company is one such new retail company, seeking to offer affordable, good quality homeware products online while also embracing a distinctive fair-trade message.
Already active in the region’s Twitter community – including the twice-weekly #northeasthour – and an advertiser at CannySites.com’s Home Interiors Directory, I spoke to Adrienne about how the business started, her and Kevin’s progress to date, and her aspirations for how the company will grow.
Q. Tell me a little bit about your business – where is it based, what’s its history, and what does it do?
The Home Decor Company is an ecommerce website specialising in home décor accessories; mainly decorative ornaments, furnishings and kitchenware.
We decided to set up the business having been faced with redundancy and reduced salary on more than one occasion. This, very alien, situation gave us the drive and ambition to be our own boss to avoid future reliance on others. We knew it was the right time to step into the world of retail and create our very own identity and brand selling home accessories.
Q. And what’s your own role in the business?
My husband and I are the sole proprietors of The Home Decor Company. We utilise our strengths in order to make sure the business runs effectively. Kevin maintains the ecommerce platform, website development and photography, and I focus on product buying and administration along with a list of many other jobs.
Q. What’s your business model, and why? Is it bricks, clicks or both?
Definitely clicks for us at the moment – with the potential reach of the Internet it makes more sense to forge into the online retail market which is increasing in sales and popularity year on year. However, it would be nice to have a bricks and mortar showroom at some point in the future.
Q. Looking forward, what do you see as the greatest opportunities for a business like yours at the moment?
For an online business such as ours, our biggest opportunity is to introduce customers to a wider range of goods from around the world, with many of our hand-carved décor items sourced from fair-trade suppliers from the likes of Bali, Indonesia. In doing this we will increase the retail market’s awareness of the fair trade principle and help promote this cause.
The market for homeware in 2013 saw a significant increase in volume growth following a marginal rise in 2012. This is the first notable increase since 2008, and – coupled with the expected increase in house sales during 2014 – this has and will have a knock-on effect, with consumers likely to spend more on homeware with the anticipation of more favourable market conditions. In turn, this will drive customers online more and more, to ensure businesses like ours are sustainable.
Q. And what about the main challenges?
The main initial challenge for a new online company like ours is to get noticed and found online. We then have to embrace social media as there is no getting away with the fact that Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheHomeDecorCompany) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/TheHomeDecorCo) are an integral part of modern life now and a very valuable marketing tool for driving traffic to your website.
Q. Where do you hope your business will be in five years’ time?
I most definitely hope in five years time we will be an established, successful online business and a recognised household name for home décor. I know it takes a lot of hard work to achieve this, but as they say if you put the hard work in you will get your rewards.
Q. And any final thoughts or comments that you’d like to add?
Just to say things don’t happen overnight – you have to be patient and to keep plugging away. The Home Decor Company was just a thought a few months ago, but now it’s a reality.
Retailer Q&A is a format where Soult’s Retail View talks to retailers – large or small, and whether bricks, clicks or multichannel – about their current innovations, aspirations and challenges. As always with Soult’s Retail View, the features are not paid for – it’s all about providing interesting stories and content for the blog’s readers. If you run a retail business and are interested in taking part in the feature, please drop me an email or a tweet.
Remember, my retail consultancy business, CannyInsights.com, also works with retailers nationwide to improve their stores, customer communications and market knowledge. For more information, visit www.cannyinsights.com. To feature your business in CannySites.com’s Home Interiors Directory, visit www.homeinteriorsdirectory.co.uk/advertise/.