It was two life changing events – the diagnosis of a long-term health condition and the loss of her father, that prompted Fiona Murphy to look for a business that she could run to bring her a better life balance.
“I researched online and found Bettylicious, a vintage swimwear company which perfectly suited what I was looking for,” explained Fiona. “I’ve always loved fashion and having worked in the retail sector, had a good understanding of the market, so I bought the company.”
Fiona developed the ranges to include sustainable products, using local models of all ages, shapes, abilities and ethnicities in her promotional materials.
Despite some technical issues, the business flourished until the COVID-19 pandemic when travel restrictions meant that people could no longer travel, and swimwear purchases dropped. She responded by extending her range to include accessories and clothing and worked hard on her social profile through Facebook Live but further issues with her website impacted negatively on her sales.
Not daunted by a challenge, Fiona went online and with help from Shopify and YouTube videos, built a new website which offered a better user experience. She also looked around for courses and any funding available to help her develop her business further and through the Growth Hub, she discovered the Leadership & Management Masterclass run by GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect from the course but was pleasantly surprised by how much it benefitted me both on a personal and a professional level. It put me in a better mindset to grow my business in the coming year.”
She explained that the interaction with the other businesses on the course was very helpful and allowed them all to give input on the individual challenges they were facing to find ways forward. It helped her to identify that she had a specific personality type which meant that she found decision making difficult and that she was often not direct enough in my actions. “Together we discussed how we would react to different situations and the most effective way to take ownership of the issue to get the results needed to help the business grow,” stated Fiona.
“The course helped me to focus on my objectives in the coming year to move the business to where I want, and need it to be,” commented Fiona. “It also taught me that I need to be less emotional in my decision making and to take positive steps to address the challenges I face.”
Since she attended the course, Fiona has employed a virtual assistant to provide her with administrative support and to streamline her sales process to give customers a better service at the same time as protecting her brand. She is also starting to rent an office for storage and has a facility for picking and packing her products for the expected pick up in sales, as people travel more again and are looking to purchase new holiday wear.
“One idea that came out of the course was to establish more personal relationships with suppliers, which I have already put into practice with positive results as they are prioritising my orders now that they understand my business model,” stated Fiona.
Fiona has a strong social media presence already with over 13,000 followers on Facebook and over 3,000 on Instagram and she is a regular blogger. As a result of the course, she has also developed a bank of other ideas to help market her business such as creating videos of her telling her business story and distributing postcards with QR codes to drive traffic to her website. Additionally, she is planning to develop a quality assurance process and introduce new operating procedures to sustain the high-performance standards of her staff.
She still faces challenges, particularly after Brexit which has made servicing some international orders difficult, but she is exploring opportunities to tackle this such as working with an overseas supplier and potentially opening an office in the EU. “I am also looking to work with environmental organisations to create a scheme where people donate unwanted swimwear to be offered to people who struggle to afford it.”
“I am so happy that I took the Leadership and Management Masterclass as it has given me the focus and confidence that I needed to take my business forward,” stated Fiona.