Hi Dawn, I am blown away by your story, please tell me a bit about yourself.
Hi, thanks for your kind words, I’m glad you like our journey so far. I’m a 55 year old married woman, my husband is Jonathan, 53 and we have four children. Kyle 25, Callum 24, Alex 18 and Poppy 11.
You have grown UK Tights into the number one place for hosiery worldwide. What was the inspiration behind this amazing brand?
I was expecting our daughter Poppy and having worked for myself in sales and marketing for 15 years I realised I could not be working on the phone with a new baby. My husband, who is a software engineer said, I’ll knock up a website for you to work from home. What do you want to sell? I just thought, what is easy to ship and what do women need all the time. Tights!
What was the response like when you first launched onto the market?
For the first few weeks it was pretty slow I have to say. Then we started using Google’s Digital Garage which offered free tutorials and taught us how to market our website to the world. Then things got better and better and busier by the day.
Where do you spend your time when not working on UK Tights?
Usually at home with the family. My husband and children mean everything to me and have always come first in my life. I try to get as much time with them as possible. Myelder sons now have places of their own with respective partners but still I try to see them as much as I can. We also have a couple of dogs so we try to walk them as much as we can too.
How did you fund the business in the beginning?
I worked for the company without taking a salary for the first two years and my husband Jonathan poured his wages into the business. We started with £250 and off we went. It was quite a struggle until we got established, but we have grown at a good rate ever since.
Sourcing is so important – what was that process like for you?
I had, in the past, been a buyer so I did know how to source products but I must say it did take some searching and digging around to find people overseas.
If you could choose one person to record your voicemail, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Joanna Lumley. We pride ourselves in giving great customer service. We want our customers to trust that we will send their goods on time and in the correct manner. Joanna Lumley is softly spoken and yet has a reassuring voice so I think that’s why we’d plumb for her.
What is your biggest tip for utilising social media as a small business?
Make sure you’re well connected on social media. Use every possible platform available. Google offer so many ways now to get the word out there. Make sure you are constantly in touch with your followers and keep them updated at all times. Keep your content fresh and interesting too.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs thinking about choosing a niche market to launch in?
Make sure you have plenty of capital. If you’re under capitalised you’ll really struggle and won’t be able to grow the way you might want to. Also, don’t be afraid of giving it a go. What do you have to lose? Use tools like Google Digital Garage to help learn digital skills and help you get your name out there.
How do you feel about the word ‘mumpreneur’? There seem to be a very mixed response amongst mothers in business.
To be brutally honest with you, that’s the first time I’ve heard that! You see I’m too busy making it happen to be bothered about silly things like that. Just try to ignore stuff like that and go ahead and make your mark. Nobody says anything about dads that do well in business! Just a silly sexist comment.
What plans do you have for UK Tights over the next 12 months?
UK Tights will always be our core business but over the past few years we have diversified with brands to compliment UK Tights. We also have UK Swimwear and UK Lingerie and all three sites are doing really well I’m pleased to report. This year, we’re going for UK Activewear and we are currently working hard to develop the website for this. Exciting times ahead for us as we take on another 4000 square foot of warehousing and office space so yes, another growth spurt in July. Then I think we might just consolidate for a little while and let that all get settled in nicely.