The challenges and rewards of turning your passion into a business
Label Love Boutique is the lovechild of small business owner Nicole Godding, who took her long-held obsession with op-shopping and made it her livelihood.
We talked to Nicole about her pre-loved clothing store and got an insight into her journey to success over the past seven years.
Like many people, it took Nicole a long time to realise that she didn’t want to work for someone else. She was in a job where she felt locked into a place and an identity that didn’t really feel right. But a steady job is hard to give up and at 38 years of age, and with a young family, Nicole admits that ‘to step away from steady job security to fulfil your dream is brave’.
Nicole took advantage of some long service leave to find other options to reinvent herself. She held tight to her fascination for second-hand clothes, and with her long service leave pay to put into a business, she began looking for a shop in her home town of Yass, in country NSW. Nicole noted that investing her own money was low risk and made it doable without putting herself or her family through the process of taking out a business loan.
“Shopping for pre-loved clothing is not everyone’s idea of a good time…but it sure is mine.”
“Retail space wasn’t easy to find and one real estate agent suggested I could be waiting a year for something suitable. I was ok with it not all happening straight away, but then about a week later I got a phone call to say a space was coming up.”
Nicole took what she had learned through her own personal shopping experience, and also looked at a similar successful business in the region to see what they did right.
“I have never liked traditional shopping or malls and I choose not to spend lots of money on clothes.”
“Imagine if someone else did all the hard work, the clothes sorting, presenting the clothes beautifully, at the right price – and Label Love Boutique was born.”
Label Love Boutique was created based on a strong customer service philosophy.
“I have small kids, and like a lot of mums I’m time poor. I understand that it’s difficult for women to get out and shopping is a different experience to what it used to be before kids. I want mums to feel good about themselves without having to spend a lot on clothes,” said Nicole.
Nicole has puts a strong emphasis on customer service and loves getting to know her clientele and their family.
“The shop is a bit of everything – women get to feel good about themselves, and there’s no issue having kids in the shop. I present the clothes to show I care about the women that shop there…that’s important.”
Nicole believes that marketing and strong computer skills are essential to running your own business and she advises anyone starting up a business to make sure they have some training in these areas.
”It’s just so important to understand how to brand your business, to know your way around a computer and social media. With a small business, not only do you have to think about these things, you have to be good at it. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you have to be able to communicate electronically.”
Nicole noted that the experience and skills she had gained running a photography business had helped her with marketing and some branding. However, Nicole did hire a graphic designer to help with the brand and that small investment has made a huge difference.
“It’s the number one important thing you need to think about before you even open your door. Getting the name of the business is not easy either and after trying a lot of different ideas I realised that there wasn’t anything that was going to be truly perfect.”
Nicole says there are challenges with running a small business in a rural town.
“The big difference in running your own business is the discipline, and with a business like mine, that always has contact with the public, I’m always accountable for my service no matter what else is going on in my life.”
“There is a really great retail vibe and beautiful windows but being so close to Canberra means we’re fighting for every dollar in our town. Being connected to other businesses in the area is important and generally they are supportive of each other.”
“In the early days I didn’t lack confidence and although it was a gamble for me, I didn’t invest a lot of money. I have invested so much more into the business now I would be more devastated if it didn’t succeed. I understand that there’s a retail law that after about five years people will start to look for something else but the shop has been operating for seven years, so I think I’m over that hump now.
“The challenge now as a business owner is to dig deep and keep finding the energy to keep everything going.”
Ever thought about starting your own business or being your own boss?
The Australian Government’s New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) can assist you with training, personalised mentoring support and financial assistance.
For more information on NEIS:
- Visit employment.gov.au/NEIS
- Call the Employment Service Information line 13 62 68