Go Your Own Way: Answering the questions this week is Lorraine McBride, Dress it up Girls (www.dressitupgirls.com).
What is your business?
We sell quirky handbags, purses, scarves, umbrellas, watches, jewellery, hats and luggage. We do craft fairs, house parties, fundraisers and also do scarf tying displays and demonstrations.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up doing what you are doing now?
I worked in the banking sector for 13 years and then did some childminding. I have a son with special needs so took up job as classroom assistant in Rosstulla School, Newtownabbey and a part-time in Peacocks fashion store where I progressed quickly to management.
I lost my job when Peacocks got into difficulties and then got a new job in Titanic store. I picked up skills along the way enabling me to fulfil a dream of working for myself whilst being there for family especially my son. I now sell ladies fashion at fairs, craft fairs, markets fundraisers etc as well as house parties, Love it.
Did you always want to run your own enterprise?
Deep down I always wanted to be at the top of my game. Retail was never a career I thought I would go into but life took me down that road and am so glad it did. Losing my job made me more resilient and I didn’t want to rely on other retailers in case the same happened again. I knew I could do it while working around and being there for my family.
What skills/qualifications do you require for the role?
Need an eye for detail and good at knowing what’s out there and what sells. Good customer service is paramount. Need to be outgoing and chatty but also have a quick business brain.
Has your business been affected by the current recession?
I started my business in the recession so I knew what to expect and how to work within the restraints of there not being much money around for extras. I did my research before going into business which is paramount for success.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when setting up and what support did you get?
The biggest challenges were definitely to do with the computer side of things i.e. website setup, Facebook, Twitter etc as these were not around when I went to school so have had to learn a lot. My family have been a great support and kept me right. Also with regards to the registration and financial side of my business, Carrick Enterprise were great with providing me with a mentor to offer some support.
What three tips could you offer those considering starting their own business?
Discipline – if working from home, make sure your family and friends know that you are working and not just at home to run everywhere for them.
Make sure you realise how much time and effort goes into making a success of it. It is not a part-time job, just a flexible one.
Reach out for more help from organisations such as Carrickfergus Enterprise. There are loads out there to help and at no cost.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
To get my name out there more by doing loads of craft fairs and therefore encouraging people to contact me with offers of work – networking.
No plans for extra staff as family help me out as well as a couple of my best friends. Maybe further down the line. I would love to have help by someone to do the social networking side of the business for me but at the moment it is too costly.
What do you get up to in your free time?
I play tennis competitively down at Whitehead Tennis Club where I play on the A team.
I go caravanning as much as possible if not attending craft fairs.
Spend time with my family – two daughters, one son and grandson and my new husband who is a great support.
If you could swap places with anyone who would it be and why?
Alan Sugar – so that I could enjoy the challenges of new business and giving help but not worry so much about money so that I could just enjoy it.
Go Your Own Way series in conjunction with Carrickfergus Enterprise, Meadowbank Road, telephone 028 93 369528