Do you have a million pairs of shoes and an addiction to the latest trends? Can’t help but spend your days wondering why you’re chained to your desk instead of browsing Pinterest, Grazia and daydreaming over OOTD’s? Then you must have found yourself wondering how to start your own boutique. Well this weeks Women in Business Interviewee Emma Campbell has done just that…
As a Fashion Brand and Marketing graduate and fellow blogger, Emma decided to combine her two passions launching her online boutique “What Emma Did” last year. In this interview Emma shares her own experience and why she feels she has the edge over her competitors…
So Emma, please could you start by telling us a little bit about your business and what you do?
Sure – I run the lifestyle blog whatemmadid.com, but in April 2015 I opened it out to become a ‘blogtique’ – a blog combined with a dress boutique. I wanted the blog to become more of a destination, where not only can my readers come to whatemmadid.com to read about fashion and browse style photography, but be able to shop a range of affordable clothes too.
And did you have to undergo any formal training or was it just something you had a natural flair for?
I studied fashion and brand promotion with marketing at University, and graduated almost ten years ago. Since then, I have worked for various fashion brands and have learnt a lot about the buying process, which has given me the skills to set up my own boutique. Running the blog and being tuned in with SEO has also helped strengthen the website to become an online business. I feel there could be more formal training I could do in terms of the boutique, such as dressmaking, so that I could eventually hand make all the dresses myself instead of outsourcing the production.
So what inspired you to set up your boutique?
I have always wanted to run my own boutique, purely because I have such a strong love for fashion and the industry, and have a decade of working for the industry under my belt. However, my blog has been running for 6 years and has pretty much become my baby and my business, so it made sense to use this platform to launch an online boutique. Why not combine the two? The audience I have for whatemmadid.com are fashion conscious young women who love beauty products, going out socialising, getting inspiration from streetstyle, and love affordable fashion. So it seemed like the right place to make the launch.
What would you say are the core foundations of your brand?
Classic and traditional dresses, so that they become wardrobe staples and not ‘fast fashion trends’. There is absolutely nothing wrong with fast fashion – in fact I purchase a lot of trend items for different seasons – but I wanted to retail a capsule collection of dresses which can be worn again and again for occasions and always be appropriate. A classic black dress never fails to impress, so my collections are based on this. I want my customers to feel classy and stylish, therefore a lot of the styles are midi length too, as not everyone is comfortable wearing mini styles, and some short girls avoid maxi style.
What personal qualities do you feel you possess to make you different to your competitors?
I feel like the whole blogger association is the main difference. The brand belongs to the blogger, therefore the collection is based on the blogger ‘whatemmadid’ – which is me. I model the clothes (even though I’m a shorty at 5’3 and would never usually model for anyone!) and I’m definitely not model material, but I am a ‘real’ girl and a blogger who shows off personal style, therefore the brand reflects that.
What have been your biggest struggles since launching?
The biggest struggle has been juggling the boutique launch with working full time. I am still working alongside the business at the moment which is a huge fork in the road, as running a clothing label requires full time dedication. It means I’ve had to order stock in manageable quantities at present, until I make the leap to run the business full time. Once I have done that, I’ll be taking to to all levels hopefully and really working hard to get the name out there!
And on the flip side, what have been your most memorable achievements so far?
I joined ASOS Marketplace back in September 2015, which has done amazing for sales! It has opened up the What Emma Did Boutique to a whole new audience that my blog alone didn’t reach, therefore it really has been a positive move for me. Plus, just having your brand sitting on ASOS is such an achievement in itself.
That’s fantastic! It sounds like everything is already going really well for you, but what would you say are your key goals for the business over the next few years?
I have high hopes and a lot of goals to reach just in 2016 alone: attending The Clothes Show in December is one of my biggest goals for me, plus expanding the collection, working with bloggers, working with the fashion press, and hopefully booking in lots more photoshoots. I’m also thinking about launching into swimwear once Summer kicks in too, but we will see how everything pans out!
What do you think it takes to be successful in your field?
You have to think outside the box and aim for a USP – fashion boutiques aren’t a new concept, and you battle against thousands of competitors. You have to live and breathe fashion to want to succeed in a business retailing clothes, yet also have skills in PR, Marketing, Design and SEO at the same time. Being a fashion blogger to start with has really helped me, as I’m highly involved with the industry anyway so it gave me that foot in the door that I needed.
Many Jessica KG readers are young, creative and ambitious women. If you had one message you could personally pass on to them what would it be?
I have two, and the first one is really simple but so effective! If you have a passion, follow your heart and work that passion. Nothing can fail if you are waking up every morning doing what you are best at and truly enjoy. Anything with strong passion behind it will always be done to your best ability.
The second one is more of an advice quote that someone once said to me years ago, that has stuck with me ever since: feel the fear, and do it anyway. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s better to have tried your hand at something and it hasn’t quite worked out, to have never tried at all.
And finally… (but most importantly!) where can readers get in touch with you?
Oooh lots of places, and I love connecting with people! See below…
I’ve loved hearing how blogging has given Emma the platform and connections to launch her business and take her entrepreneurial spark to the next level. As bloggers it is very easy to ignore the opportunities our followings and connections bring, so it is always amazing to hear of someone doing so well and personally feature a blogger success story.
Best of luck with your goals in 2016 Emma – I am sure you will do great!
In the meantime do you guys feel your blog has enabled you to follow your dreams and/or launch your own business? If so, how?
I’d love to hear and share your stories.
Jessica KG ♡
P.S. If you loved Emma’s feature, why not check out these additional blogger success stories from my #WomenInBusiness series…
Interview with Sarah of the Prosecco Diaries and Bloggeration
Interview with Lauren of Works Events, @LDNMeetUp and Gifting Lounge
Interview with Florence Grace of Love From Magazine