I launched my business ‘And so to Shop’ – an online marketplace, showcasing and promoting independent UK suppliers – in July this year. It is the final piece in my plan to bring handmade items and inspiration to people who love something a little bit different.
My aim has always been to help small, independent businesses to thrive whilst giving people something different to every day, factory-made items. I love the idea of bespoke, handmade creations, each as unique as the person who made it. As a hand maker myself, I wanted to create a space for business owners, like me, to show off what they did, and to be able to sell their items and feel supported.
It all started three years ago when I launched a blog called ‘And so to Wed’, which gives small businesses a platform to showcase their work and offers brides and grooms beautiful handmade wedding inspiration. Since then my business has expanded and evolved, working with hundreds of small businesses, helping them to develop their skills and knowledge, and giving them the confidence to make their business a success. My company and I now offer business owners space to sell their items and services through ‘And so to Shop’, the opportunity to grow and develop within our online ‘Members Community’ and ‘The Cafe’, and provide them with exposure on our blogs, ‘And so to Wed’, ‘And so to Family’, ‘And so to Style’, and via our social media channels.
Our overall aim is to change people’s thinking about handmade. We want people to understand that in buying handmade items, they are getting something that is amazing quality, has had time, effort and care put into it, and is totally unique. Buying handmade is also much cheaper than people often think and so you get fabulous value for money.
We also want to support ‘creative’ small business owners to thrive. We encourage them in their strengths and support them in areas that they are not as strong. Often a small business owner is brilliant at what they do, but not as good at accounts, marketing, photography, admin etc. Within our Members Community we provide monthly masterclasses to help them develop their skills. We also offer in-house admin, branding, web design and photography, for people who want to outsource these areas of their business but who have a small budget.
Being a female entrepreneur, I felt really welcomed and inspired when I was selected as a WOW winner. Jacqueline has achieved amazing things and gives all women in business a role model to look up to, and be inspired by. I think women can often doubt themselves or lack confidence, so receiving the WOW accolade has really given me a boost.
My advice to other female entrepreneurs is to work hard, be true to yourself, trust your gut and say ‘yes’ to anything that will challenge you. You are in control of the action you take and who you are. So, decide on what you want to achieve – then make it happen!
Louise Daniel x