Jo Davies, Owner of premium womenswear retailer Black White Denim in Wilmslow, Cheshire.
It’s safe to say there are a lot of dos and don’ts to consider when taking a step into the daunting yet exciting world of fashion retail, and since opening Black White Denim more than three years ago I’ve learnt a lot.
First, don’t open a boutique unless you can afford to lose money and not take a salary for a while. Opening and running an independent store is not a quick way to make a living and it’s a slow way to make a fortune.
It’s essential that you buy products that will sell to your target audience. It might sound obvious, but the product you stock should make you money so you can pay your bills. You can’t treat the store as your wardrobe.
That being said, you should reflect the brands you are selling. If you stock Equipment shirts, for example, don’t wear Tucker or Topshop. People always ask where the clothes you’re wearing are from - and if they’re not from your shop, you’ll lose sales.
Always choose your brands carefully. A lot of labels will tell you they are interested in your success as a business. They’re not - they’re interested in their own. However, there are exceptions to this rule and I am proud to work with most of them, including Rag & Bone, Markus Lupfer, J Brand, Denham, Maison Scotch, Zoe Karssen, Avelon and 5Preview to name a few.
When running an indie you have to develop a love of numbers. You’ll get nowhere unless you know every statistic inside-out.
Memorise sell-throughs, margins and mark ups - it’s your responsibility to know your business.
It’s also important to surround yourself with people you can trust. Invest in a team who will learn with you and love the business almost as much as you do.
Good customer service is crucial in building relationships with shoppers. So much of this business is based on returning custom, so never lose sight of the fact that customers are your number one priority. Treat everyone who walks through your door as your biggest spender because one day they might be.
Finally, you should plan for the long term and prepare to change things as you learn and grow. In this business change is the only constant.