It is Monday and I know we are all excited to start another week. For a bit of extra Monday motivation I have accessories afficionado Cathy Padian, from online boutique Alice’s Wonders with me.
Cathy is a West Country ex-pat now living in beautiful Essex. She has worked in the big city, been a stay at home mum of 3 and is now a small business owner, talk about versatility! Inspired by a love for gorgeous accessories and a belief in the power of prettiness to brighten your day, Alice’s Wonders was created in 2014 and has grown from strength to strength since. The perfect accessories and jewellery edit. Vintage and contemporary inspired necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Stylish scarves and clutch bags. Step away from the High Street into a Wonderland of Prettiness. This is one rabbit-hole you are going to love falling down.
Hello Cathy, it’s fabulous to have you here, how are you?
I’m really well thank you, enjoying the first sights and sounds of spring; my favourite time of year. It fills me with real joy and optimism for the coming months.
I adore this time of year too, Spring seems to hold such energy for starting new things. When you decided to start your own business, how did you know it was the right time?
The short answer to that is I didn’t! It was a fairly organic process. About three years ago I spent weeks scouring online and the High Street for the ‘right’ necklace for a certain outfit and came away disappointed by the level of choice there was available at my budget, which was significantly more High Street than High End. I then found a wholesale stockist of the perfect piece which I snapped up, only to have friends and acquaintances asking me to get them one too! From that tiny acorn Alice’s Wonders just grew. Scarves were a natural addition further down the line, as I am, and always have been, obsessed with snuggling into a scarf. At the time I was at a bit of a personal crossroads in life and my career. My 3 young children were growing older and my previous City career in financial marketing felt slightly remote and not particularly conducive to a good work/life balance. Over the years, whilst I have long been interested in fashion and style, my passion and love for accessories had really grown so I knew the business I wanted to develop.
I love that vision, I can see a great oak tree with branches laden with your gorgeous necklaces and scarves! All those lovely things just waiting for the perfect owner to pick them. Knowing your target market is important, especially when starting out and it sounds like you had customers queuing up quickly. What is your number one tip for defining your perfect customer?
Picture them, imagine them and buy for them, whilst staying honest to your vision. Read the magazines and the blogs they read, look in the stores they shop in. I am fortunate that I am my own dream customer which certainly helps when it comes to deciding what to stock. If I don’t like it – it doesn’t go online. It might not be a piece that would personally suit my colouring or shape, but it HAS to be something I love.
Love is definitely essential, you can always tell when there is that passion behind a collection.
So you have your product, your people and your passion, let’s get practical! What is your most important business tool?
For me it is, without a doubt, social media. Alice’s Wonders has grown organically primarily through the use of social media; Instagram in particular. I love it – it’s such an instant and responsive media to connect with customers and would-be customers. And to have fun with too. I love the whole behind-the-scenes thing – my Insta is full of outtakes and pretty pictures of random things. I think it’s important to genuinely connect with people and customers and I hope my social media usage truly reflects my own personality. I was an early adopter of forums and chatrooms as a rather geeky 20 something which I think has greatly influenced my love of social media – that and I love to talk!
I love that too! Don’t try to keep me quiet when I’m getting to know my customers, I love to listen to their stories! It is always so good to connect with customers, and also other women in business. I have some amazing cheerleaders that I chatter to as often as I can. It is so important to have that when you are running your own business, don’t you think? Where do you go for support?
I think in anything we do in life it is very important to have a support group – although running a small business you really have to be able to knuckle down alone as well. I like to feel supported but am fiercely independent as well (it’s the Aquarian in me!). I do have a wonderful online support network of women I have met through a particular small forum and on Twitter and Instagram over the years. Some of them I meet regularly – although never often enough – and some I have never met, but they are still a real sense of support and encouragement to me.
I’m certainly glad to have you in my circle and for all the insights you shared today.
Thank you so much for having me – it’s been really eye-opening to me personally to dig deep to answer these questions!
Thank you, it is has been so good talking to you, I’m sad we have to stop here, but I am excited to see what’s in your handbag on Thursday!
Come back on Thursday to see what Cathy carries in her handbag. While you’re waiting why not take a look at Alice’s Wonders, maybe treat yourself to some extremely affordable gorgeous designs. Cathy has kindly offered 10% off all stock until end March with the code Hello10, so get on over there and treat yourself. If you’d like to continue the conversation with Cathy on social media, I’ve popped all her links below – we all know she loves to talk now!
Have a fabulous week,