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Investing in marketing in the face of change

Fairies sit tight in face of brexit uncertainty
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Fairies sit tight in face of brexit uncertainty
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

What happens when the going gets tough? We all know that the B-word has been hanging over businesses large and small ever since June 2016. For some small businesses, there has been no impact to date; for others, the months of uncertainty have already caused real challenges. One Capital Space Colchester customer, Away with the Fairies, explains how for them, Brexit has meant taking the bull by the horns.

Moving the ‘magic’ into the Seedbed Centre

Away with the Fairies are an online retailer, selling miniature garden fairy products. “We’ve been going for about four years now and have been in Capital Space business accommodation at the Seedbed Centre in Colchester since September 2016,” explains Wendy, who cofounded Away with the Fairies with her sister Julie. “We started at home, but the amount of space we needed and the work we were doing outgrew our two houses. We used every bit of space available to us, this magical business had taken on a life of its own and we needed more space other than our living rooms!”

A growing concern

“Most of our sales are online, coming from all over the UK – as far afield as Scotland, Wales and Cornwall – all the corners and everything in between. Before Brexit we used to get at least one order per week from Europe, but now I can’t remember the last time I sent something to the EU. It literally was like a flick of the switch – we’ve only sent 6/7 parcels to Europe since July last year.

“Because we have a standard shipping charge of £19.95 to the mainland continent, when people buy from Europe it will usually be large orders to make it worthwhile. Our average orders are about £35, but from Europe they’re upwards of £100. These sales are worth having and because of Brexit we’re losing out.

“Our sales are also down in the UK. I think it’s because the whole country is terrified about what might happen if/when we leave. We sell beautiful, luxury products and while people don’t know what’s going on, they’re more reluctant to spend money on something that isn’t a necessity.”

Away with the Fairies sell miniature garden fairy products
Away with the Fairies sell miniature garden fairy products

Grabbing the bull by the horns

Not going down without a fight, Wendy explains that Away with the Fairies is investing to ensure the business remains robust and resilient to the changing times. “Going forward we want to keep things going, we’ve realised what’s going on as our sales are down in the region of 15%.  We haven’t cut back, instead we’ve decided to invest.  We are having a new website built which will enable us to utilise Google much more efficiently.  Most of our sales up to now have been organic, so we now need to be able to actively search for new business and the new website will facilitate this. We’ve also got a new marketing team on board, these are skills our small team don’t have, but fingers crossed they will help to increase turnover substantially.”

“We can’t sit back and be victims! We can’t change the situation, and until it’s all sorted, we need to be proactive. It’s costs a lot of money and it’s scary, but we must do it. In the long run it will only make our business stronger for the future.”

Supported by flexible accommodation that ticks all the boxes

When they chose to upgrade to an office, Wendy and Julie looked at a multitude of places before finally settling on Capital Space’s Seedbed Centre in Colchester, “We have large pallet deliveries on a regular basis, so we needed to consider that when finding a suitable warehouse.  It’s daunting to expand into larger premises when you don’t know what will happen each month, so a monthly lease is less of a worry. Everything we need is here.  We have security, a caretaker and not having to organise phone lines and internet access for ourselves made the move very straight forward.  The convenience of the location means our customers can come along and view the products in the showroom easily – it ticks all the boxes and we don’t have to compromise.”

“One other thing we love is that it’s easy to upscale here, it’s something we’re looking at in the future. We’ve spoken to the site manager and she lets us know each time a bigger unit comes free to see if we’re ready to move up, which is great because we know we have that option when it comes around.”

Away with the Fairies  have shown real grit and courage. Investing when times get tough, instead of cutting back, will hopefully give them the edge for the future.

To find out how CapitalSpace  virtual offices or business premises

could benefit your growing business,

call 0800 107 3667