Clare Haines went into business in 2009 having bought a van load of products from play dough to fishing line with her remaining £15,000 in savings. Having broken even on this and somewhat chastened from this experience, she used the lessons learned to found Lingerie Outlet Store on eBay from her garage in Swindon soon after. Is was an immediate success, which led to Clare being named Wiltshire Small Business of the Year in 2011.
Melissa Burton, Clare’s best friend became an equal partner in the business in 2015 when looking for a new challenge after fifteen years working in telecoms. For all Clare’s entrepreneurial skill and tenacity, she admits that Melissa has brought a strategic approach to the business which has led to the firm’s 2000% growth in the past few years.
Both are working mums who no longer work evenings or weekends. They also employ 32 staff and are looking for a new warehouse having outgrown their 18,000 sq. ft. space. They cite the “explosion” of stores like Victoria’s Secret as key to the continued expansion of the lingerie market.
“The past few years have seen Lingerie Outlet go from strength to strength. By focussing our sales drive on online channels such as eBay, we have been able to free up budget which would have otherwise gone on a bricks and mortar store or marketing budget. This has also freed up the time of our staff; who have more time to devote to fulfilling orders and dealing with customer queries – which is key to building brand love and ensuring that customers buy from us again and again.
“My main advice to someone wanting to launch their own business is to keep a close eye on sales data. This has enabled us to start mapping out seasonal product trends to plan our inventory throughout the year, for example in the spring when we know that swimwear sales rocket as people plan for their summer holidays.”
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