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Shop ‘til You Smock
In just shy of a year, Smock Boutique has earned a stellar reputation as a destination for savvy shoppers. Tucked away in the pretty town of Enniskerry, Co.Wicklow, a visit to the boutique is a stylish addition to a day spent exploring the beautiful surrounding area. We caught up with founder Mairead Vickers to chat about how she’s built her business from the ground up.
Sitting on a stool in one of the changing rooms - our makeshift interview room for the day - Mairead takes a rare pause, looks around and reflects: “You know, when we viewed the property, we sat in this very changing room. And I said to myself, ‘I could really give this a go.’” Since that decision, she hasn’t looked back.
Finding Her Business Style
For Mairead, owning her own boutique was a natural progression from her successful personal styling business. “I’m a personal stylist and shopper, and I decided that maybe I could actually provide the clothes for the people I go personal shopping with instead of having to go elsewhere,” she explains. “That’s how Smock Boutique started.”
Her years working as a personal stylist and shopper have provided Mairead with an invaluable insight into her target customer’s needs. This heavily influences the clothes she chooses for Smock. “I’m in the wardrobe of my target market at least once a week. I feel that I have a certain advantage when I’m going to buy my collections because I feel 100% confident that I know what is needed,” she notes. “We’re not filling the wardrobe with pieces that don’t suit your lifestyle, we’re providing a working wardrobe within budget for that person. That’s absolutely at the forefront of my mind. That’s my USP.”
Building the Boutique
Setting up a business on your own comes with many challenges and there’ll always be a few learning curves. Although Mairead was absolutely certain in her vision for the boutique, she was conscious that the admin side of things also had to be perfect. She heard about MyBusinessToolkit from her local AIB branch and thought it would be useful to help get the business off the ground. The Toolkit offers access to a suite of leading business tools, from Sage Accounting and Payroll to the bOnline website builder. She explains how MyBusinessToolkit has helped her get her business off the ground: “You have so much paperwork, and because it’s a seasonal business it all comes at the one time,” she says. “If you don’t keep up to speed with what and when you need to pay, you’ll quickly fall behind and your front of house suffers. I don’t want that to happen.”
She credits MyBusinessToolkit, and in particular Sage, with helping her keep tabs on the admin side of things. “Sage really helps me define what my cash flow looks like, who my suppliers are and it’s great for categorising everything and keeping me organised. I almost leave them running in the background. I trust them fully and I trust they’ll work. And my accountant can log on to Sage as well and check everything is ok. It was like having an uncle in the background that you knew you could rely on. That’s a strange analogy I know!” she laughs.
The bOnline website builder provided in the toolkit was also a huge help in getting her online presence up and running. She explains: “MyBusinessToolkit has helped me get my business off the ground by allowing me to have an almost free website. That cost would have been a huge undertaking for me at the beginning. It just made it so easy.”
Secret to Success
It turns out the secret to Mairead’s success is something learned from her years as a personal stylist – follow your gut. “My advice to anybody starting out is to really and truly follow your gut instinct,” she explains. “Listen to yourself and try and block out all the negatives. And there will be negatives. It’s like anything, if you have confidence in your idea then nobody can take it away from you.”
Mairead is currently focused on building up her online presence and growing her customer database, but she’s definitely staying local at heart. “I love Enniskerry,” she says. “I want to stay here, and I’d love to expand Smock Boutique within itself.”
Fancy a fashion fix? Smock Boutique is open Monday to Saturday from 10am – 6pm.
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* To be eligible for the offer: Any new or existing business customer opening an AIB Business Current Account. Offer applies to the full bundle (Receipt Bank, Plan HQ, Sage One, bOnline and MozyPro). 30 days free (starting from when you sign-up either online or in branch). After the free period, it’s just €15 per month – a saving of 80% compared to purchasing directly from service providers. No obligation – customers can choose to cancel their monthly subscription at any time.
Please be aware that all of the views expressed in this Blog are purely the personal views of the authors and commentators (including those working for AIB as members of the AIB website team or in any other capacity) and are based on their personal experiences and knowledge at the time of writing.
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