Readers, we have a new series starting today, and we think you’re going to enjoy it. The lovely Rachel is starting a business, and she’s taking us along on her journey. She writes brilliantly here about her inspiration for the business, and in her life, and I am already looking forward to hearing more about the realities of setting up your own business (because, how many of us have fantasised about setting up our own business and working for ourselves, and not really thought through how hard it will actually be? Me.) Rachel has promised to be honest, and to give us an insiders view into the real life of starting a business – both practically, and emotionally, and if this post is anything to go by, we’re in for a good series.
Oh, and on top of all the wisdom, and advice, did I mention that the business is a vintage wedding dress boutique? So. Much. Pretty.
I’m Rachel and in October of last year I launched my very own business, a bridal boutique specialising in vintage and handmade gowns and accessories (I still can’t quite say that without squealing a little!). I really wanted to document the journey I’ve been on to get to this stage, and this post is a small part of that process – thank you to Clare, Aisling and Anna for the opportunity to share it with all of you lovely AOWers!
I’m often asked where I get my drive from. The answer is pretty easy – it’s absolutely from my Father, Tony. Tony left school at 16 to take up an apprenticeship in London in fixing fridges. After this, he took on a veg round with a greengrocer, delivering veg from a bike around Aberystwyth. (This was also when he met my mother, who apparently used to sit in the basket of the bike while he rode around!)
Then, at around age 20, Tony bought a battery chicken farm in mid-Wales. Since then, he’s built it up into an award winning, totally free range farm (www. birchgrove-eggs.co.uk), and in the process, has helped to turn around the fortunes of the farming community in that area. He has stood up for small, independent business his whole life and had stuck to his principles throughout, in an industry that is often found wanting in corporate responsibility and social conscience. And then at age 50, he also went to university and did a business degree.
So, I’ve always had him as the most incredible role model – he has taught me that you can absolutely get on in life by applying yourself and working hard, but more importantly, you can do that while supporting your local community and not treading on other people. He carries his achievements with such modesty, and his morality in business is an inspiration. As his youngest daughter, I’ve always been very close to him, and he is very supportive – but more than that, I want to succeed to make him proud of me. That has really been the biggest force behind my business, propelling me forward to do things my own way, to always look out for and take advantage of new opportunities and to do it all with grace, just as he has.
Even though selling beautiful wedding dresses is about as far removed as you can get from a chicken farm in mid-Wales (!), there is so much of my Father in my business and I owe him such a huge amount. (I recently nominated him for an MBE.) Thank you Tony! I mean, thank you Dad. (And so this doesn’t get too emotional, here’s a pic of me in my boutique!)
Rach in her boutique. I can’t be the only one who wants to move in to this place?! Image by Simon Gough.