Lauren Ferguson is owner of Sisters Boutique in Falkirk, Scotland, which was crowned Drapers Young Fashion Independent of the Year.
Being an indie can be a lonely old business. Paranoia can easily set in and it’s easy to find yourself worrying over brands, competitors, payment plans and business rates.
How nice would it be to be able to talk to someone else in the same position? Very nice - and that is why I set up a closed group on Facebook last year for like-minded independents that often need somewhere to squeal. And squeal we do.
I contacted an agent who had a good range of indies on her contacts list and asked her to invite them to join me for a social experiment.
We secretly discuss the customer who slags us off for not refunding the dress she swears she has never worn, we shout out that we have a customer desperate for a size in a style we have sold out of so another indie gets the sale and not a multiple, and we share info on card terminals and all the other critical things that can really concern you if you don’t know where to turn.
Initially, we had more than 100 members. However, we quickly realised we had a problem as some agents and reps were in the group and some indies rightfully felt they couldn’t discuss their everyday issues. We tweaked the group and made it very exclusive and now what a great little bunch we are.
However, we are very female fashion heavy with the odd children’s shop, so it would be fantastic to recruit new indies that want somewhere to discuss their issues and get advice and support from other people in the same position. We only let people join if they are the only shop in their area so there is no competitor spying.
We have a lawyer in the group who is happy to help with legal issues, we have a wealth of advice and we kind of think it’s our therapy group.
We have 65 members and would like more, so if you need a boost that day when the shops are quiet and problems are plenty then give us a shout. A problem shared is a problem halved.