Gabreille wearing tracksuit from GBoutique

Harlow student turns dreams into reality

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GBOUTIQUE is an online Instagram clothing boutique where I sell in-style women’s fashion pieces at affordable prices. I started the boutique in January 2020 with no followers and no help. Over the last year and a half my page has grown immensely and I now have 1106 followers on Instagram alone. I also have a website which enables shoppers to buy the items straight from one click of a button.

I am a just an average 18 year old who studies journalism at college and I also have a part time job at Tesco. Most people would think I have enough going on in my life however I felt that I needed a new challenge and something that really interested me was fashion. I had seen the idea on Instagram before and decided that in my free time it would work out perfectly as I could work as and when I wanted and as little and as often as I chose to.

When I first started the Instagram page it had no followers, nobody knew about it and I didn’t really have a clue where to start. I needed to find out where to get stock from, how I would make the page look professional and more importantly would people even want to buy my clothes? However I was determined to make it work so I uploaded my first photo which explained all about the boutique and how I come up with the name Gboutique. I explained that my name is Gabrielle Bridle and I was creating a clothing shop which I wanted to be a boutique so I decided that my initials GB went perfectly with ‘boutique’ and I could use the B for a double meaning which is exactly what I did.

My mother Hannah said “When Gabrielle told me about her business idea I was really interested to see how she would make it all work as I know how hard it can be to run a business let alone at such a young age. However I told her I would be supporting her all the way and would be there to give a helping hand if needed.”

After I posted the announcement that the boutique was coming soon I did a lot of research about small businesses and ways I could promote the Instagram account. I then found some wholesalers in Liverpool and I placed my first order (tracksuits and faux leather shorts) after getting paid from my part time job at Tesco. It was really hard trying to find the right wholesalers as I didn’t know how they worked or which ones I could trust to purchase from. I watched YouTube videos about each one I came across to make sure they were trustworthy and I searched the whole internet to find one selling the style of clothing I was after. A tip I would give to anyone wanting to start up any business would be to contact the wholesaler and make sure they can deliver the stock to you in good time and even ask for a sample piece before you buy anything in bulk just to check out the quality of the items.

When my first stock order was delivered I immediately wanted to take photos of the clothing to show off to the 20 followers I had gained from the ‘coming soon’ post. I needed some help when I came to taking photos and luckily my sister Sophia, aged 16, was willing to cooperate and become a model for me. This of course was very new to me so we had a challenge trying to get the right lighting, background and camera angles because I wanted it to look as professional as possible.

After a couple of hours trying get the perfect images we finally selected those we liked and I began editing them and posting the shots to Instagram. I can remember that day so clearly as all of my family and friends were so supportive of me. They shared the post and were giving shout-outs to my boutique so that by the end of the day I had gained 150 followers and felt really successful.

The next morning I woke up and I had received a few messages asking about the items I was selling. I was extremely happy as these people were my first ever customers.

Sophia said “I absolutely love the items GBoutique sell. There are always new bits being added to suit the seasons and all the items are really good quality. Since GBoutique started I have purchased numerous outfits but my favourite definitely has to be the paisley top and shorts set as it’s really colourful and unique, I get compliments every time I wear it.”

At the time, I was taking payment through bank transfer or PayPal as I thought it was too early to invest in creating a website as I wasn’t sure if the boutique was going to do well enough. However, shortly after this process of buying new stock in every time I got paid from my part time job and selling as much as I could, I decided it would be best for me to create a website. This would enable me to manage and keep track of what I was selling and also make it easier for my customers to buy my items.

Creating my website was a challenge especially because everything was new to me. I didn’t have any help with my business as I wanted it to be something I had worked on by myself.

The website took me two days to get right and sort out the monthly payment and upkeep of it but eventually I got there and since having a website my sales have definitely increased. It makes shopping from the boutique a much better experience for customers and makes my business look more professional. So one piece of advice I would give to anyone wanting to create their own business would be to create a website as it makes your business look much more trustworthy and give customers a chance to browse all your stock.

Customer Jan Watts, 65, said “I like how easily accessible the website is and how straight forward it is to use as being an older person using technology and online shopping can be quite confusing at times.”

Instagram is one of the main social media platforms to have when running an online business as it’s a place you can promote yourself online and gain followers and customers. This means it’s really important to take good quality images which stand out and look appealing to customers.

Gabrielle wearing one of the popular outfits she sells

Taking the photos for the boutique is really hard at times as you have to make sure the lighting is good and that the angles make the clothing look flattering. This is probably the most time-consuming part of owning a clothing business. I could spend up to seven hours a day taking photos for the boutique’s Instagram page and website as I just want them to be perfect and look incredible for my customers especially because it’s all done online. Customers need to like the photos you have taken of the clothes to make purchases.

Jan said “Older models could advertise the clothes to attract older customers to GBoutique as the clothing would be nice to see and more appealing on different body types rather than just on yourself.” She also advised advertising more on Facebook as this is a social media platform that the older generation use the most.

Today I have 1,106 followers on GBoutique and the business is growing every time new stock is uploaded. I am also much more consistent with buying stock as I am making regular sales. I am really proud of myself for starting this business up. It was never created for me to make money; it was just for fun and I always told myself it would be a bonus if was actually to make profit. I find running the boutique very rewarding and I can’t wait to continue it on in the future and see where it takes me.

A screenshot of GBoutique’s Instagram page

photo : Gabrielle owner of GBoutique wearing new pink tracksuit

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