Excited to have you..
Welcome, so pleased you have joined me, Paula, here at ‘The Graft’. Hopefully you will pick up some tips and ideas of how to start or run your own online business, just like I do now and have been doing for over 14 years.
A bit about me.
Ok, where to start… Well, I was born in 1975… Jokes!!
Seriously though, my business life started in 2005 when I opened my first business which was a retail flower shop. I was so passionate about flowers and the design that at first I was lost in all things creative and was adamant that it was all I needed to succeed, that if I was the best florist in town, then they would come and my business would flourish (pardon the pun). And, while I still maintain that good product and service is absolutely vital, a good business acumen and a strategical approach to sales and marketing is crucial to success. I quickly discovered this was the case and subsequently reached 6 figures, employed over 20 staff during my time and covered 75 weddings and events per year. I secured the contracts for 3 local hotels and several restaurants along with hundreds of regular customers. I did this while maintaining a great relationship with my competitors too, well most of them… there is always that one who won’t play nice isn’t there.
I was keen to make my business knowledge official, so also during my time at the shop, I completed a HND in Business and Management and graduated in 2010. Other successes during this time also included two appearances on the TV as a florist, one was a wedding show with Nick Knowles and I was also asked to provide flowers for the set of 60 minute make over. I was also filmed and interviewed on camera with Kathryn Rayward too which I was super proud of and was invited to spend the day on set, which was really cool too. In the early days I was featured as part of a local college success story and subsequently my mug shot was on the side of all local buses and large billboards across the town. I luckily escaped the threat of sharpie moustaches and it brought a great deal of positive attention to the shop. I have to say though, my biggest accolade has to be when I won the Chamber Of Commerce Retailer of the Year award in 2009. I was and am still super proud of that achievement.
After 10 years of operating successfully, I spotted a gap in the local market and decided to open my second business which was a haberdashery and craft shop. This opened me up to the world of hand crafted design and what initially started as gifts to compliment my flower shop, quickly turned into my new passion, and my current business, ‘The Sarky Cow’ was born. I soon learned that this business was growing quickly and had the potential to be a great brand. I made the decision to sell the florist and the haberdashery and give it 100% effort, a decision I have never looked back on. The florist is still going strong and although the new owners can take full credit for that, I like to think I created the foundation for a solid business that will stand the test of time.
The Sarky Cow has now had my full time attention since Feb 2017. I started it from my workspace at home and by Feb 2018 I had moved to an office space within a shared building. Fast forward to Feb 2019 and I had outgrew that space and I am now in my brand spanking new space which I think will be my ‘forever’ home. I’ve even nicknamed it ‘The Cow Shed’. Making the move from home has enabled me to become more efficient and work quicker which in turn enables me to deal with more orders. I employ a member of staff to help me get the orders out on time and we currently sell on The Sarky Cow website, Amazon and Etsy. The online selling journey has been a learning curve and I have learnt some great lessons.
I have to say, The Graft is a passion project. I love business, I have always loved helping local business owners see and reach their own potential and I love to cheer on start ups. I think we all need a leg up, so I thought I would write about the bits and pieces I have learned along the way. I will never write about what I don’t know as my pet hate in the business world is ‘know it alls’ and we all see a fair few of those about don’t we? No, I have some humility but I also have passion, drive and a motivation to succeed that I hope will be infectious and help you along your way too.
What about ‘Me’ as a person?
Well, just so you know that I am not a robotic business woman with no other interests or stuff going on, I will tell you a bit about Paula, the home bird. I am a mum of two teenagers (17 and 18) and they were 4 and 5 when I started out. I am married to Jay, who I have been with for 24 years and grew up with and we complete our family with two basset hounds Ozzie and Dennis. They are and always will be my priority and the actual reason I started a business in the first place. With not much family to help out when the kids were little, I wanted employment that I could control. I wanted to go to the school plays, I wanted to go to the coffee mornings and those all important assemblies and my business gave me the flexibility to do that. I didn’t have other people to send in my place and I did not want that chair in the audience that I should be sat in, to be empty. Now, they are older and independent, I now spend my spare time learning to paint (I am utter rubbish btw) and going out in our camper van which I adore with Jay.
Back to Business
So, am I going to start a facebook group to get followers and chat endlessly? Nope, this is not my direction. I want to write about what I know, and let you decide if you would like to follow the advice or guidance I give. I am all about the action. Read a bit, learn a bit, then do a bit. It has to be about the doing.. No point in having a great idea and then chatting about it forever and ever, there are a million people out there with one of those. No, you need to be the person who EXECUTES that idea, and I sincerely hope The Graft will help you do just that!
So, are you gonna be a ‘Grafter’? Only you can decide if you want to be, and with that..
See you on the other side.