Nicola, How did you start your business?
I first opened my shoe boutique in April 2010, my passion was killer heels and I sourced Italian and Spanish designer brands unknown to the UK market. Bury St Edmunds loved the new brands, many of which are exclusive to me in the UK.
What inspired you to create your own range?
With the age range of my customer being so varied I found it necessary to source a very wearable collection for everyday use. I found my manufacturer in Italy and the design process began and to accompany the Nicola Sexton Shoe Boutique the Nicola Sexton Brand was born, soon becoming my best seller.
How did you spread the word of your brand?
My venture into wholesale, was completely by accident. I had an agent in store one day, showing me a jewellery collection, before leaving she looked around the store at the shoes, loved my own label and asked if she could take them “on the road”. I had samples made and off she went with the s/s 13 collection. The response my agent received from her retailers echoed that of my own customers,“tremendous, incredibly comfortable, beautiful colours and stunning accessories”.
Tell us about your involvement with ‘Pure London’?
At the end of last year Pure London contacted me to ask if I would be a guest speaker, giving a presentation on my journey from “shopper to retailer to wholesaler”. An opportunity too good to miss and although my experience in public speaking was “zero”, my retail experience before opening the store was also “zero”…! This was a fabulous platform from which to launch my own brand. It was incredible, a great networking experience and most importantly, has expanded the geographic availability of the Nicola Sexton brand. I had no idea at just how many people had been following the Nicola Sexton store/brand or in fact person, I was inundated with questions after the presentation.
Would you do it again?
Yes, I think I would. My mantra is “always grab every opportunity presented to you, you never know where it may lead you.”
What has been a big accolade for you during your time in business?
I am hugely proud of the loyal customer following we have established in such a short time, along with being a finalist in the Drapers Footwear and Accessories Awards 2012 for “best footwear offer in an independent”; not bad having only been open for 18 months at the time!
You can visit the Nicola Sexton Shoe Boutique on 33 Abbeygate street in Bury St Edmunds. – 01284 760011 – www.nicolasexton.co.uk.