It has been a wild few months of launching a business from scratch, literally from my bedroom. It has been endless fun, I cannot lie, but it has also been stressful at times. There have been many lessons and while I’m still learning, I thought the business building topic might make for an interesting read. So here you have it this chilly Sunday evening, lessons from one happy-go-lucky micro-entrepreneur to no doubt many more business babes out there… ❤
I launched Palais Armoire on an absolute whim. Really, an absolute whim. It went from having the idea, to doing Instagram polls I named Stock or Nots, which quickly became a PA signature, to buying the first pieces from a supplier based locally in Manchester.
One thing about having a business, a side hustle, any form of income-generating activity, is the need for endless spirit. Not just boundless, crazy enthusiasm for what you make, sell, stock or produce but truly endless passion for providing customers with something that is unique to you. Running a boutique while having an already busy schedule has tested me. But it has spurred me on massively. I’ve learned new things about myself, I even used my enneagram type to provide insights into what I need to do, and my values, and these combined helped me to discover the core values of Palais Armoire.
Palais Armoire, if you weren’t already aware, means Wardrobe Palace in French. I don’t know how much a French person would agree with this…it’s rather literal. Palais = Palace, Armoire = Wardrobe. But I love it, and it has a ring to it. It is, however, super difficult for my UK customers to pronounce so this may help (lol): Pa-lay Arm-mwar. You can read more about how we began here but I will insert below some of the blog post from The PA Blog.
Why the French? I hear you ask. Well, I am bilingual, maybe more a becoming bilingual, after having studied French at Lancaster University in the north west of England, UK. How to pronounce Palais Armoire: pa-lay arm-waw. I have always dreamed of having my own boutique, especially a brick-and-mortar one, but for now an online boutique seemed both possible and an exciting venture. Fashion was my thing from day one. I was that girl with 21 Bratz dolls, spending my weekends dressing them in mini-skirts and knee-high boots, or jeans and t-shirts. No matter what the outfit was, I loved the creativity of styling. It wasn’t until I completed my degree, began a full time job in the e-commerce & customer service world, that I felt a side hustle coming on. Lockdown was in full swing and Coronavirus at its peak, and I took the plunge and began an Instagram account. I shared pieces on IG stories, asking people to vote yes on no. This is what I called “Stock or Not” and it is definitely a Palais Armoire signature way to decide on what the boutique should stock.
Very quickly after, PA was born. We decided to shorten Palais Armoire to PA when talking about it in passing, and now it is fondly referred to in this way by friends and customers alike. You can find us on Instagram @palaisarmoire
Anyway…enough of the plug and the backstory! What I do want to talk about is my lessons learned since beginning the boutique in April.
Shall we start with the biggest lesson? Yes, let’s. By far what I’ve learned most is consistency = growth. By being consistent even in the slow months, by keeping visible even when it’s not launch week, by engaging with people, being consistent with all aspects of building a brand is the key to growing.
In the good old words of Nike, just do it. If you’ve got a burning passion to start something, or like me you just woke up one day and thought you’d start, if you can and you want to enough, you will. Procrastination is easily beat when you’re doing something you love. Palais Armoire fills all my free time, but in the best way. I get so much enjoyment out of connecting with other small businesses on Instagram, influencers and bloggers, and most importantly my dear customers. The people connected to PA are what make it thrive, and me thrive. I just love it.
Listen out to the real advice. Listen when your Mum says to keep on top of “the books,” listen when they say stick to your budget. Too much control can kill creativity, but no control and no real plan can soon allow things to spiral. I use every first of the month to go through inventory and numbers, finances and analytics and that way, I can plan my month. This took me a few months to get into a routine of doing, but it is something that works for me right now where the boutique is currently at.
Stick to your guns, but listen to your customers. They love a print you’re not so keen on? Stock it. They don’t like a style of trousers that you adore? Don’t stock it. The only way to really move with your customer and keep their interest is to listen to them, and provide for them. Whether boutique, a nail salon, heck even a magazine…you’ve got to listen to what your customers want and like, and in particular: want more of. Being aware of this and creating a bond with them where you can have that back and forth conversation and invitation to be interactive has been a game changer in these past few months for me.
There’s so much more I could share, and I’m sure I will in time as I learn more. Do let me know if you enjoyed this topic and would like more business insider discussions.
Till next time.