What is it like to run an online Children's clothes shop?
Working for yourself, the days go by really quickly compared to sitting in somebody elses office. I've summarised an average day in the life of a small business owner in the UK! Boofy baby and childrens clothes was just a twinkle in my eye two years ago, but now here it is- consuming my whole life! (almost)
I begin thinking about work when I open my eyes in the morning as like many people, the first thing that I do is check my phone and gauge how many emails and messages I have. I schedule my social media posts up to a month ahead of time. Posts publish automatically on Facebook but I have to post manually on Instagram each morning and linger for a while after to reply to any comments.
After breakfast I will answer all customer service enquiries across all platforms which can be surprisingly time consuming as I write each answer myself and everyones situation is different. Even if time is short, I always try to give a detailed, chatty and professional answer so that the recipient will hopefully be happier for having read my email. I'll then filter through any other emails, replying if necessary.
If any returns arrive that day, I will process them immediately, whether it's an exchange, or a refund. I'll also message the customer to let them know that I have received their parcel, and when their refund or exchange will be with them. Returned stock is sometimes given away to my sister, who has two children.
My next major priority at the moment is managing the wholesale aspect of Boofy. I would love to see Boofy stock available in quirky and adorable childrens clothing boutiques around the UK soon. Enquiring with businesses that I believe Boofy would be a good fit for and responding to enquiries likewise takes time, as does working out costs, margins and an entire catalogue for retailers to look at!
At this point, before lunch I might (definitely will) have a scroll through social media, commenting, replying to comments and uploading stories. This helps to generate orders just before I go to the post office that day, so orders placed in the morning are usually dispatched the same day.
I'll begin packing orders which makes me both excited and paranoid. Excited as I love seeing peoples orders and packing it all up in a bright and fun way. But also paranoid as I still triple check that the right order is in the bag with the right address. I also like recognising the names of repeat customers and popping in a freebie such as a childrens fairy tale book. All packed orders go in a big tote bag by the front door.
After lunch I will head to the post office and drop off the fun packages then mark them as dispatched on the website so that the customer is notified.
I tend to dedicate to the afternoon to the more creative aspects of Boofy. My mind is much faster in the morning, but I believe that this is when it's best that I spend my time interacting with customers and dealing with finance. I am constantly tweaking the website. This can include things such as reordering how stock appears in the shop (e.g. which item first, what item is on a row with what.) If I throw all the stock up online and left it, it would look very messy. The shop still needs to feel clean and edited, like a bricks and mortar store so I try to do subtle things to help keep it tight. Such as, alternating between light and dark coloured garments on each row on the website, also, keeping similar types of garments together so that the customer doesn't see a t shirt next to a dress next to a romper next to some leggings and then another t shirt while scrolling through. That feels like a choatic environment to shop in. Similarly, I may need to resize and retouch pictures or even make a new graphic for the website, such as a header to announce a new collection or a sale in the future.
In addition to how the shop looks visually, I may also rewrite, tweak and edit the description for garments. If an item isn't selling as well as I had expected, I may go back and look over the copy and think about whether my description does the item justice.
Scheduling social media posts is usually my next task. It can be tedious but is so important for Boofy. Over 90% of Boofy customers come from Instagram. Sometimes I might get an idea for a social media post in the week so I will write the copy, hashtags and create the image ahead of time and schedule it to publish at a future date. Other times, I have to dedicate an entire day (usually a Saturday or Sunday) to write and create social media content for the coming week. I find forcing high quantities of social media content to come out of me in one day very challenging so prefer to do it on a more ad-hoc basis throughout the week when I can.
Later on in the day I will check on any inventory that is running low. I compare the numbers remaining on the website with the remaining physical stock to make sure that I do not accidentally oversell. I will then decide whether that item will be restocked and if so, make a note of that. Whilst I'm poking around with all the fun stock, I might pull out a few garments to take a quick picture on my phone and put that on Instagram stories. I think that seeing garments in a more casual context, rather than the perfect pictures online helps the customer feel that the clothing is more tangible.
The final push of the day will be researching and planning out what will be in my next email newsletter to send out. I will look ahead to any upcoming significant dates to help theme the newsletter around (such as valentines day, the Royal Wedding, Easter etc), and decide which product will be showcased and what shop news to include. This leads on to the never ending task of creating regular blog posts! Sometimes content for a newsletter is the springboard for a blog post and vice versa so Often there can be some overlap as they inspire each other. Sometimes I will just add blog post title ideas in a draft to write fully later, other times I can write two blog posts in one evening, one after the other.
Before I formally 'leave work' as it will be getting on for the evening by this point, I will quickly go back through my emails in case any customer service messages have come in, and go through my social media as some customers like to contact through there.
In my free time I will be looking for stock to sell two seasons ahead from today. This is one of my favourite parts as I browse through literally hundreds of adorable designs. I will create a master Wish List of 'maybes' and continue to add to it, then revise and tweak. Slowly collections and trends will emerge, such as stripes or jungle themed designs. This can make narrowing down the list easier as some designs look a bit odd compared to the rest of the stock. Some designs I just don't love them as much the more I see them, so those are deleted too. In the end I am left with a concise assortment of designs that I thoroughly love, fully fit with Boofy's image and are truly unusual to anything that I have seen on the High street. In reality I often I delay narrowing down the list, so when it is approaching the time to buy stock, I dedicate entire days narrowing down the list, selecting quantities and sizes. This part is one of the most exciting and simultaneously stressful parts of my work. On the one hand I am dying to share the designs with my customers who I know will just love the designs as I do, but on the other hand, this is when I spend the largest amounts of money in the business and doubts creep in that maybe it won't delight my customers.
I'll have the evening as free time, though while I am cooking dinner or doing chores I like to listen to podcasts about running a small business. My favourite is The Janet Murray show. Throughout this time I am often writing lists on my phone of ideas and thing to implement tomorrow!
For more of what goes on at Boofy HQ (i.e. my desk) Follow me on Instagram where I am most active @Boofy.co.uk or sign up for my newsletter by scrolling to the bottom of the homepage and filling in your email address.