I have always lived in SW London, I did the usual system of education but never really knew what I wanted to do as a career. After University, I did temp work which ended up with me having a disability that lasted for a decade! I did however work through most of this time doing various admin roles but ultimately I was made redundant and with part of my redundancy money I paid for the Alexander Technique which allowed me to no longer be officially disabled and my life as an entrepreneur got off the starting blocks!
Becoming a Franchisee
One thing that motivated me was the desire to ‘not have a boss’ but to have some kind of business support too. I found that perfect half-way house of being a Franchisee. I discovered a company called Natures Purest UK which was mainly a baby gifting company that made a variety of baby clothes, toys, bedding and more with 100% organic naturally coloured cotton. cottons that were used were rare, handpicked from a community farm with no nasty chemicals which were then ethically made into the end product in their own factory. For nearly three years I ran my shop as a Franchisee called ‘Natures Purest Balham’. I loved that everything that was made ethically in general, I care for the environment and hate the way that people are treated in many factories in the world which is why I loved the brand to the level of investing into opening the shop. There is also nothing cuter than baby gifts, you always have happy customers buying for babies on the way or new babies that have been born.
A bolt from the Blue and then PIVOT
Sadly in 2017, I discovered rather abruptly that Natures Purest UK were probably going into administration, but was told that this would be a gradual process and I’d have 2 years to decide what to do with my shop. However, only a few weeks later, I discovered that the brand was actually closing down faster than that and that after many attempts to get hold of further stock that selling these items simply wasn’t possible any more.
With 2 more years on the shop lease I re-branded! Having changed various online listings and buying new shop signage, new stock items were brought in. Customers had been asking for three years for toddler clothes, toddler toys, toddler bedding as well as for babies so although it was sad with the departure of Natures Purest UK closing, it gave me the opportunity to provide many of the most requested items in my shop for my regular customers. I also found the new items have attracted many new customers too.
My values are still my Unique Selling Point
One thing I haven’t changed was the ethos of the shop, clothes sold in the shop are made from 100% organic cotton that are either naturally coloured or carries the oeko-tex certification Some items have the Fairtrade certification, some other items have other guarantees and I have continued to sell some brands that are handmade by other women in business. She also now sells wooden toys made with sustainable wood that are ethically made too. What my whole entrepreneurial journey has taught me so far is to roll with what happens. I went from not knowing what to do, doing a job that pays the bills, facing uncertainly with redundancy, starting afresh as a Franchisee, having uncertainly again to building up my business again, this time running a fully Independent shop! I have even built my first website recently because I know how even regular customers want to check what’s in the shop before popping in.
If you live in South West London and are looking for baby gifts or products, please pop into Natural for Baby and say Hi! All the best – Elizabeth.