Herbie from ELL Boutique, who has come on board the ship that is Savvy Women. The name was derived from her daughters name “ellora” which means “cave temples” in India, shortened to “ELL”. Herbie set up in business whilst she was on maternity, just under a year ago and has steadily expanded the range of stock she sells from scarves and accessories to clothing and more recently jewellery.
Her passion for fashion came from her mother, who ran an Indian textile shop selling fabrics for over 30 years in Peartree and once the baby came along she was left wondering “what could i be doing now?” As many of you entrepreneurs out there will know, resting on ones “maternal laurels” isn’t necessarily always an option!
Indeed this was the case for Herbie too, so she registered her company, researched where she would source her products from, as she was keen to ensure it wouldn’t be imported from the far east, but more local to the Midlands. Herbie has a great relationship with her current suppliers and is always on the lookout for new ones. Visiting trade shows up and down the UK, checking the items are ethically sourced by the suppliers also.
Herbies “day job” is within the FMCG sector (fast moving consumer goods) wholesale industry, where she will go into places like Costco on behalf of blue chip companies like Coca-Cola, Nestle, Cadburys and try to negotiate better prices on behalf of the wholesaler. I thought id ask her a few pointers on how one could maybe set up in business and what to look out for.
So Herbie, what advice would you give to those women out there wanting/looking to start their own business? What would you have done differently?
I would have researched better ways to promote my business on social media, as its proven to be such a minefield and one can do unnecessary activity which in hindsight could have saved me a lot of time. So going on a course to begin with of any description that is for your sector, is strongly advised. Become an affiliate of a larger organisation, like I’m with shopify an ecommerce company, which host seminars etc to help with online selling as I’ve learnt a LOT through doing that, not to mention the networking that goes on anyway once you’re there. But networking in itself is a MUST, especially as a lone worker if nothing else, it gives you a support you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Lots of women often chat about their aspirations to have “side hustle”, but are often put off by the fact it wont match their day job financially. Would you say you’re ever likely to leave your day job and do this full time?
Being honest with you, i’m quite fortunate to have a situation where I could leave the day job if I wanted to and eventually id like to do that. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy my day job and I get to meet lots of people from all walks of life, which I also get from my Ell Boutique business but what I love most, is that I’m able to help people with their styling needs, which is a great feeling for me, the satisfaction I probably don’t get from the day job. The fashion industry I’ve found, is ALL about confidence which is priceless to be able to give that to someone.
Speaking as a new mum, are you putting pressure on yourself to get back to pre-baby shape?
In total transparency I would wholeheartedly say a massive YES to that!! Not because I think I should be or that I think I’m overweight, its more for the fact i feel better being that shape. its physically the most energetic i am once I’m back to that size. I am very active anyway and was before, so for me to not do that would be alien, i’m back into my cycling and running now as before i used to run marathons, ultra marathons not to mention crossfit for 6 years, as well as running with the dog so its only a matter of time till I’m back there and that’s what makes ME happy. You have to do what makes YOU happy, not others. Muscle tone is key for me and that is what makes me feel confident!
So what can folks look forward to for “Christmas at Ell Boutique”?
Ohhh!.. You mentioned Christmas already! Well, actually it wont be all that far away really, and at present I’m sourcing new pieces bit colour will play a big part in whats out there, along with the classic LBD (little black dresses) which are timeless in any collection or season!
And on a final note, what inspired you to come on board as a supporter of the Savvy Women initiative we have launched?
Well over 90% of the people I work with in the day job, are men. So this gives me the opportunity to be a part of something that champions women, a collective that gives us a voice and a platform to say YES, we are contributors to a successful business and that working together collaboratively, will only strengthen what we do and together, as this collective, we can do great things. The fact that it’s not a bid to “compete” with our male counterparts but more about encouraging women to support each other was also an attractive element, knowing this would support me.
FIND OUT MORE AND CHECK OUT ELL BOUTIQUE