We catch up with the people behind some of the winning businesses at the 2013 Drapers Independents Awards to see what impact their success has had.
Anne Wright, owner
Young Ideas, which has two stores in Ashbourne and Derby
- Independent Retailer of the Year and Womenswear Independent of the Year
“Above all else, winning the Drapers Awards was a great boost for team morale, a recognition of everyone’s hard work and the commitment that goes into making Young Ideas such a special business.
The win also helped raise our profile with potential new suppliers and we have had lots of contact from new people keen to supply us. The awards strengthened our credibility with the supplier base.
The winning logos are proudly displayed on our windows and on our website, and after we won we notified our customers through e-shots. Our local media were also very interested in the story and BBC Radio Derby invited us into the studio for an interview.
We hope to continue to grow our business by focusing on what we do best - outstanding customer service and a great edit of designer collections. We’re always striving to improve our service and this year we will open a new personal dressing room, where customers can enjoy one-to-one service in an even more luxurious environment.
We will also be opening an all-year-round Sale shop in a new space and after a successful launch of menswear in autumn 13 we will be working hard to build our menswear customer base.
There are also plans for a cafe as an extension to our flagship store in Ashbourne. We hope to make Young Ideas a lifestyle destination.”
Becci Cornelius, buyer and director
Ann’s Cottage Surf Shops, which has nine stores across Cornwall
- Lifestyle Independent of the Year
“Being named Lifestyle Independent of the Year has created so many opportunities - raising our profile, reinforcing credibility, connecting to new brands, networking, attracting and inspiring staff. It adds value to our profile, reputation and market positioning, and ensures we stand apart from competitors. And we love to say we’re Drapers Award winners.
Still, life as an independent is tough. Competing with the high street and customers migrating online are just two challenges we have to manage. We’ll continue to stay fresh and engaging, having our customer at the heart of everything we do to keep them compelled to be a part of Ann’s Cottage.”
Clare Serjeant, owner
Fox + Feather, 43 Gloucester Road, Bristol
- Best New Business
“Winning the award meant a well-deserved pat on the back for all the team and a very proud moment for me. It was great that our hard work was recognised by such a respected publication.
All our suppliers were very pleased that we won, with lots of lovely messages in the week after - which really makes you realise how much support you have within the industry.
A couple of suppliers also won awards or were finalists - Little Mistress [winner, Young Fashion Brand of the Year] and Bellfield [finalist, Young Fashion Brand of the Year] - so it was big smiles all round that week.
Following the win Fox + Feather had great coverage in Bristol’s newspapers and magazines. We featured the event heavily on all our social media platforms, and it is still the one thing we make sure all bloggers and other press include when writing about our business.
This year we’re really busy, having just launched our own label, Ragged Robin [wholesale prices are £10 for printed vests to £16 for printed sweatshirts], which is based around a best-selling range of jersey that we introduced into Fox + Feather at the end of 2012. It’s proving very popular and is keeping us very busy. On top of this we’re also continuing to build our online presence and are planning a store refit in April. We’re really excited about how it’s going to look.”
Guy Hudson, owner
Lynx Menswear, 12 West Park, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
- Menswear Independent of the Year
“We’ve had a fantastic response to winning the award. We’ve become quite the talking point of the town, with visits from new customers wanting to see what we’re all about, which has led to increased sales and a greater awareness in store and online.
And even our local MP Andrew Jones has been round to congratulate us.
As a small independent retailer, the wealth of fashion available online is always major competition. Educating our customers about quality materials and superior cut, along with providing a total shopping experience rather than just an underwhelming ecommerce shopping cart, means they choose Lynx time and again.
We always provide exceptional service, giving each customer a unique experience catered to their needs and building a strong relationship. A call as soon as an item is in stock, an email update or a text reminder is only the tip of the iceberg.
We provide a unique brand range limited in volume and strive to offer exclusive product where possible. Diverse European influences ensure new and exclusive styles are a constant part of the eclectic offer, which you won’t find online or elsewhere in the UK.”
Blair Daniel, manager and buyer
Concept Clothing, The Academy Centre, Belmont Street, Aberdeen
- Young Fashion Independent Retailer of the Year
“Winning the award really puts us on the map. Our current suppliers have been even more supportive since the award and we’ve been approached by numerous brands wishing to visit and showcase their products in an award-winning store like Concept. It really humbles us when brands do this, as it shows that after a lot of hard work over a lot of years, we seem to be making a name for ourselves across the country.
My advice to up-and-coming indies is to stick to your guns and don’t be scared to take a risk with a brand - these could grow into your bestsellers. Be thorough with your buying, but don’t let figures get in the way too much; take a risk on a style so you can differentiate yourself from the high street. When you can buy a £2 T-shirt from a high street store, you need to provide excellent service so you can build a consistently reliable and loyal customer base, who will in turn tell all of their friends about your store.
Lastly, employ staff who will really care about you and your business. We have a very close-knit team at Concept. No matter how many hours they work or how much involvement in buying and merchandising they have, all of our staff care a lot about the shop. You need the right staff to drive your business forward.”
David Conaghan, co-owner
Chocolate Clothing, Lesley House, Foyle Street, Derry, Northern Ireland
- Independent Multichannel Operator of the Year
“It was a fantastic day out at the awards. If you’re thinking about entering then don’t think about it, just do it. It was definitely a career highlight to win the award. I remember being at university studying fashion and the lecturers chatting about Drapers Award winners and seeing pictures of past pupils on the walls with awards, so to actually win one was amazing.
We marketed our win on every channel - our blog and newsletter, Facebook and Twitter - and the response both locally and nationally has been overwhelming. We made all the local papers in Northern Ireland, from the Derry Journal to the Belfast Telegraph. We were also mentioned on Northern Ireland radio stations several times and got a mention in The Sunday Times business section.
Our plans are to keep on pushing ahead and continue to look for new channels of selling - for example we are hoping to launch on Play.com this year. We’ll continue to improve our online presence both through our main website, mobile site, eBay and Amazon. We’re bringing in new brands each season and will continue giving customers what they want in terms of great product, excellent service and the very best brands.”