Retailer Q&A with Rosie Willett Designs: “Ecommerce is fantastic for reaching people all over the world”
Talking to retailers – as I spend much of my time doing – it’s interesting how many businesses have embraced Facebook and its Pages functionality, but find Twitter a harder nut to crack.
And it’s true – as I’ve found from my own Fashion & Style Directory accounts, Facebook is particularly powerful for engaging with and being seen by ‘real’ people, whereas Twitter’s strength, I always argue, is in connecting with peers and influencers, and generally raising the profile of your business. That said, it’s worth remembering that all those peers and influencers are also shoppers themselves.
One business that has a listing at the Fashion & Style Directory, the North Tyneside-based Rosie Willett Designs, certainly demonstrates the potential power of Twitter. By providing an outlet for her to showcase her unique jewellery and headpiece designs to a wider audience, Twitter helped to bag Rosie a celebrity client and a place on the front cover of Hello magazine, which she has skilfully used to generate further PR and buzz around her products and brands. Indeed, there was a great follow-up piece in Hello just last week.
So, I spoke to Rosie to find out more about her business, exactly how ecommerce and Twitter have worked for her, and what she expects the future to hold.
Q. Tell me a little bit about your business – where is it based, what’s its history, and what does it do?
Rosie Willett Designs was established in 2008 and is based in Whitley Bay.
I design and hand craft wedding headpieces and jewellery, which are sold throughout the UK in luxury bridal boutiques and further afield via our website www.rosiewillettdesigns.co.uk.
Q. And what’s your own role in the business?
I manage all aspects of the business. I am the sole designer and I make each and every piece by hand.
I also manage the day-to-day running of the business but rely on a little help from family for monthly accounting (my Dad is a retired accountant) and my Mum takes care of packaging.
Q. What’s your business model, and why? Is it bricks, clicks or both?
Most of my orders come via the website or from notonthehighstreet.com. Ecommerce is fantastic for reaching people all over the world, which I just couldn’t do from a single shop in Whitley Bay.
I offer appointments to local brides who prefer to try on their headpiece before making a purchase and for brides living further away I have a number of stockists around the country where a selection of my designs can be viewed.
Q. Looking forward, what do you see as the greatest opportunities for a business like yours at the moment?
I set up my business in 2008 when the recession hit, so it’s in a much better position now than it was in the early years.
The Internet and social media makes connecting with brides, new stockists and celebrities much easier. For example, Georgia Horsley contacted me to design the headpiece for her wedding to McBusted and McFly’s Danny Jones through Twitter. Their wedding was featured on the cover of Hello! magazine and the ‘Georgia’ hair vine is now my bestselling design. It has given my business a huge boost.
Q. And what about the main challenges?
Although I feel that the internet is mainly a positive thing for a business like mine, it can also have a negative effect.
It creates more competition as similar companies become more accessible to customers and sales can be lost to competitors offering lower prices. Fortunately, high quality, individual design and excellent customer service continue to attract brides to Rosie Willett Designs.
Q. Where do you hope your business will be in five years’ time?
In five years’ time I would like to have worked with some more celebrities and increased magazine coverage for my headpieces. I would also like to gain further stockists in the UK and abroad.
There is currently interest in Rosie Willett Designs from an American company, so I hope that my business can expand into the United States within the next five years. I also have ideas for new product lines which I hope to introduce soon.
Q. And any final thoughts or comments that you’d like to add?
It has been an exciting year for Rosie Willett Designs as we launched our new Moondance collection in April, which has been very well received by brides and the press.
I’m looking forward to commencing design work for the 2016 collection later in the year, which will include a headpiece for my own wedding in September!
Visit Rosie Willett’s website to see her range of wedding forehead bands and hair vines, including the ‘Georgia’, created for Georgia Horsley’s wedding to McBusted’s Danny Jones.
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 help them improve their stores, online marketing and market knowledge. For more information, visit www.cannyinsights.com or @CannyInsights on Twitter.