Hi Justine thanks for taking the time out to speak to us – tell us a little bit about your business?
Justine – Founder of Sartorial Boutique and JCE Image Consultants
Hi Steve, wow – where to start! Well, first of all I run Sartorial Boutique and Gifts in Kingston Upon Thames.
Here I sell unique gifts, greeting cards, wrapping and gift bags for men, women, children & babies.
I also sell fashion and accessories including men’s ties, accessories and jewellery plus ladies handbags, shoes and jewellery.
Whilst shopping at Sartorial I offer free Personal Fashion Styling advice; if my customers need help putting an outfit together, I can assist.
Alternatively customers can bring in items they’ve already bought and I can suggest accessory options to finish off the outfit.
In addition to running the Boutique and Personal Fashion Styling in store, I am a Professional Image Consultant.
Here I offer a one-to-one session if the customers prefer.
This covers a wide range of services, so for example, if I don’t stock what the customer has in mind I am also a Personal Shopper; I can source items for clients and email them for consideration.
What this means is that for a fee of course – I carry out wardrobe reviews / re-vamps to ascertain what’s missing in a customer’s wardrobe, what doesn’t suit them or their lifestyle anymore and offer alternative mix and match options.
These steps can be a great way of giving a wardrobe a refresh without having to buy anything new – unless the client wants to of course!
I always manage to create new outfit options with items a customer has forgotten about. Or if you fancy a total wardrobe overhaul, why not book a Personal Shopping experience.
We will chose items together sticking to a pre-agreed budget.
Colour and body shape analysis forms an important part of your styling experience with me, book an appointment now and see how small changes can really make a huge difference to your appearance and how you feel.
So basically, you live and breathe fashion, but what made you want to run your own business?
I’ve always loved fashion and anything creative. I studied business and finance with fashion option at college, trained as a Professional Fashion Stylist and always wanted to own my boutique and gift shop.
Having spent most of my working life in an office being told what to do and not achieving much recognition for my hard work, I thought it was time to finally branch out and fulfil my dream.
I’m not going to lie it’s hard running your own business, but I’ll never regret the choice I made.
It’s incredibly rewarding being your own boss and seeing your hard work pay off. Everything takes time, I’ve had to teach myself to be patient and never give up.
Someone once told me, CocaCola sold only 25 bottles in their first year of trading and now look at them, a global and probably the most recognisable brand ever created.
We all have to start at the bottom and see how things transpire. With the right attitude, anything can be achieved right?!
What are the biggest challenges you face?
The financial struggle is most definitely the biggest challenge. I am more than happy to work all hours and constantly battle on regardless, but when it’s been a slow day, the harsh reality hits…. How am I going to pay my bills?
The thing is though, I recognise you have to speculate to accumulate. I have to invest in my business in order for it to grow.
In this current financial climate, everyone is feeling the pinch. Everyone lives on credit, but there will come a point when that credit runs out!
Owning my Boutique was once a pipe dream, but I always put my all into running my business have faith about how succesful it will be.
What is the best bit about running your own business?
Independence and control of my own life. I make all the decisions and I have to live with the consequences. Most of the time it works, but all buyers in retail make mistakes.
“I think it’s imperative to support other small businesses. We all understand the hard slog so why not help each other and promote each other’s businesses.” – Justine Elton
Luckily I’ve not made many as I’m careful with budgets and only buy limited numbers to test sales, then re-order as and when I need them.
Paying bills on time is key in order for suppliers to trust you. Once you build up a rapport, people are willing to help you.
I think it’s imperative to support other small businesses. We all understand the hard slog so why not help each other and promote each other’s businesses.
I’ve set up Facebook and networking groups to do just that. It’s not just about me, it’s a business community and by talking to people you never know what will come from a simple conversation.
Hand on heart I absolutely LOVE my job, which most people don’t say. I’m incredibly lucky to have fulfilled my dream. Everyday something new unfolds, so who knows what the future holds.
As well as incredible fashion items, Sartorial Online Boutique offers a wide range of stylish gifts.
Who is the best client you have worked with? (if you can say- or “What type of clients have your worked with” if you can’t!)
To be honest I really don’t have a favourite. ALL my customers are private clients and are unique. Some of them have now become friends. I can’t really say who they are for confidentiality reasons though.
My boutique is a sociable environment and some of my customers come in for a chat or if they’re in a hurry we always wave frantically at each other as they pass.
I love styling new clients as the emotional reward it gives is lovely to see; most of my clients say they literally feel happier and more confident after a styling session with me.
Often when you don’t feel good inside you give up on your physical appearance. I’ve done this myself!
Something as simple as putting on your favourite outfit or lipstick can give you a small lift. Then you radiate confidence and people will notice and engage with you in a different way… it really does work.
I did see Gillian Anderson getting her hair done in the salon where I was styling a fashion photo shoot though!! Ha.
Oooh, she’s lovely! What made you choose us to help you out?
One of my customers, who is now a friend, told me about the invaluable work you did for her business.
I get many emails from companies advising me they can work wonders on my website, but to be honest I don’t trust cold callers and a word of mouth recommendation is definitely more powerful and inspires trust.
Obviously we all need to promote our businesses, but when parting with hard earned cash, I need to know I can trust a company to do what they promise.
“I love styling new clients as the emotional reward it gives is lovely to see; most of my clients say they literally feel happier and more confident after a styling session with me.” – Justine Elton
Steve not only delivers what is promised, but always goes the extra mile! No stuffy corporate nonsense, but a friendly professional approach.
Steve also understands that sometimes explanations for dummies is needed; how computers and analytics work are a little beyond me, but I can honestly say I’ve learnt so much and I can now apply what I’ve learnt to my website.
As I said before, nothing happens over night but my google rankings have improved. I’m getting a few more enquiries and my online sales have started to drip in…hiring you guys is definitely the best investment I’ve made so far.
Awr, thank you Justine. It’s a pleasure. What would you say though is your priority with web marketing?
To be blunt, I need the marketing to convert to even more sales it’s as simple as that. I’ve spent money on radio and magazine advertising, which provides exposure, but not much with regards to an increase in sales, well not yet anyway.
There’s definitely no harm in trying new things, but repetition is needed and these types of advertising are very expensive!
I think web marketing is cost effective and more powerful as there aren’t many people on this planet who don’t have a social media account or access to the internet.
What I need to do is stand out in an expansive ocean of online stores and businesses promoting themselves.
Absolutely! What are your hopes for the future?
To be a millionaire!! Ha ha… I’m not greedy, but I’m ambitious and driven!
Well, who wouldn’t want to be comfortable and not have to worry where the next pound is coming from and if you can actually afford to eat this week?!
I’d like to know that in the near future my hard work will pay off and I can look to hire staff and take my business to the next level.
I am sure you will. Justine, thank you very much for your Time.
If you would like to visit the Sartorial Online Boutique then you can click here. For more on Justine’s personal styling services then you can click here. You can also follow Justine on Facebook and Twitter.