Struggling single mum bags online success with Perfect Handbags
Julie, an IT consultant, combined a self-confessed passion for handbags with practical IT experience to create her own web-based company. The journey from dream to successful business, however, almost became a nightmare. Julie launched her website when the recession really started to take hold. After ploughing everything into her business, she encountered some very difficult times: “cash flow plummeted and I was up to my eyeballs in debt – I had to extend my mortgage and max out my credit cards...I couldn’t even afford to buy my son a new pair of school trousers. I had to question whether it was fair to put my children through this.”
Yet, despite the cash flow problems, Perfect Handbags sales were double what they were for the same period, the previous year. “I kept examining the figures over and over again, because I couldn’t believe it,” says Julie. “But they were right, and that’s when I knew the business really had potential.” So, Perfect Handbags pulled through and Julie believes it is down to a commitment to exceptional customer service. When a large snow fall last December threatened delivery time, she admits that one night she drove for four hours to make sure a customer got her bag in time for a big party.
It is really Julie’s work ethic and ability to go the extra mile that shines through. Despite juggling motherhood, work as an IT Consultant and simultaneously completing an Open University degree, her commitment to the business is astounding. She says: “it doesn’t seem long ago we were packing bags in my back bedroom, and now I have a whole team of pickers, packers and distributors; as well as the infrastructure to sell bags worldwide.”
Perfect Handbags has now built a loyal customer base from all over the world, including China, the Far East and Australia. “I’ve had to work hard to get where I am, but it’s been worth it,” she says. Julie has toughed out the economic downturn to become an inspirational success story for all women and budding entrepreneurs. “You have to keep your head screwed on, keep checking the figures to make sure it’s viable, and if it is you have to really believe in yourself, even when things get tough. You just have to dig in, work hard and stick with it,” she says.
Over the next twelve months, Perfect Handbags is hoping to double its orders, whilst reducing the cost to process them. But Julie’s future ambitions don’t end there. She’d also like to expand to include a fuller range of bags for men, plus men’s accessories, luggage and travel goods. Customer service is still a major factor though: “I want to deliver shining customer service, like large retailers such as Next or ASOS. While I may never be as big as they are, I want to be on par with them in terms of service,” she concludes.
Perfect Handbags sells a wide range of bags from small clutch bags to leather work bags, men’s satchels, suitcases and even children’s bags. The company stocks over 1,200 bags and designer collections include: Olga Berg, Kinsey, Claudia Canova, Penelope & Parker, Red or Dead and Zandra Rhodes.
Launched in 2006, Perfect Handbags started with one woman’s love for handbags and a commitment to a high level of customer service not always found with online retailers. It now has a loyal worldwide customer base reaching as far as the U.S, the Far East and Australia.
RONIN Marketing Limited
40 East Street, Bromley, BR1 1QU,
+44 (0) 20 3326 5039
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