It was a flash of inspiration that set Cally Halpin onto the path of small business success.
Talking to a friend over coffee about storage challenges for the end-of-line stock in her high-end fashion boutique in Edinburgh sparked an idea that would soon become online fashion store Lux Boutique Outlet. Curious and keen to move into the fashion industry from marketing, Cally, 45, offered to host a pop-up event to help her friend offload the extra stock. Soon she had set up a series of pop-up events selling brand-name fashion at up to 70 per cent discount under the name Add Another Layer and the first phase of her retail empire had begun.
She said: “The response was unbelievable. Interest from customers across the UK was hard to ignore and the one thing they all kept asking me was when they could start shopping online.”
The mum-of-two did her research and soon realised she was on to something after discovering that online fashion sales accounted for 24 per cent of the total spend in 2017. So she set about getting her in-real-life business online and Lux Boutique Outlet was born.
Lux carefully selects their fashion partners to ensure they provide the very best of collections and accessories from an eclectic mix of British and international brands.
Cally said: “Going online was really a no-brainer and I knew that with our unique collection of designer brands, we were offering something others couldn’t.”
Cally spent the beginning of this year refining and rebranding the business which launched to acclaim in March. Partnering with Edinburgh-based distribution company Fulfilmax, who stock, pick, pack and post all online orders, has meant that Lux Boutique is set to scale up in quick time.
Investing in marketing has been key to their growth too and Cally now works with a strong team of PR, social and digital consultants to help shape her marketing message.
However, it hasn’t all been a breeze for the founder and creative director of the online shop, who is very aware of the challenges faced by online businesses.
She said: “Shopping for clothing couldn’t be simpler today for consumers but it is hardest for the online retailer. Online business isn’t simple and the design and launch of a website in the early days is in fact the easiest part.
“Keeping stock fresh, driving traffic to the website with clever SEO, maintaining customers, fulfilling orders and ensuring the marketing mix all works in sync is a daily requirement.”
Cally says she has learned many lessons along the way and is prepared for the fluctuations that the future could bring.
She said: “The big lessons so far have been to invest in unique photography, use social channels to drive sales and ensure that the product is right above all else. Now we have global shipping, the world is indeed our oyster.”