Tell us about how your business got started. What was the inspiration and what gap in the market had you identified?
My business began as a bricks & mortar shop in the pretty Georgian town of Holt in North Norfolk in 2009. I named the shop ‘Victoria Goss’, my grandmother’s name to reflect some of the values such as attentive and friendly service, quality products made from natural products, and feminine styling that she would have expected from a shop in her day. Six years after I opened my little shop, I reluctantly closed it and took the business entirely online, a move that I have never regretted.
What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start and manage your business? What challenges have you faced along the way?
I tried a few jobs after I left school including bank clerk, school matron, sheltered housing scheme manager and library assistant, gaining lots of different skills. After managing a local shop, I realised that I would really like to run a shop of my own. When setting up ‘Victoria Goss’, my supportive in-laws helped financially and my business savvy husband gave me lots of advice on organising the lease of my premises, recruiting staff, setting up my bookkeeping etc. My lovely daughter, Alice, used to help in the shop and then went on to model some of my nightwear for the website. Even my dog, Finlay, got involved, becoming the “shop dog” and playing with children whilst their mums looked round.
The biggest challenge was the seasonality of trade in Holt – the town is in the heart of a tourist area and in the early part of the year trade could be very flat which made keeping my motivation difficult.
What are the pros and cons of selling online only?
I enjoy the flexibility that having an online shop gives me to work whenever I like during the day. Orders have to be packed and posted promptly but I can fit other tasks around my day and work in the evenings if that suits me better. There are downsides to online trading – I am a tiny business competing in a virtual world full of giants which makes being seen by my potential customers difficult. I don’t get to meet my customers face to face so I miss the chance of getting to to know them and to find out which styles they like and what they would like me to stock in the future.
What do you like best about running your business?
The best bit about running the business is choosing new products that I hope my customers will like as much as I do. I enjoy being creative with the presentation of the orders, hand painting gift tags for my gift wrap service, to show customers how important their order is to me.
How long have you been stocking Powell Craft products, and which are your favourites?
I have stocked Powell Craft’s gorgeous products almost from the very beginning of Victoria Goss, customers are always thrilled with them, and they are the best-selling line in my online shop. I stock mainly the women’s nightwear and my all-time favourite piece is the nightdress Ava (or is it Katherine or maybe it’s the Pink Exotic Flower short pyjamas -how super cute are they?) - frankly, I just love them all! It’s easier for me to tell you that my customer’s current favourites are the Pink Exotic Flower dressing gown and the Nettie nightdress.
Which social media platforms do you use to promote your business?
Victoria Goss is on Facebook and on Instagram I prefer to promote my business through the blog on my website and by sending newsletters to my subscribers and through my association with the lifestyle website ‘Muddy Stilettos’.
Online selling became a crucially important market during the pandemic. How do you see the future of e-commerce?
There’s a lot of talk about re-invigorating the High Street following the pandemic but I think the convenience of shopping online is here to stay and will continue to grow. I live in a rural area and it’s so much easier, quicker and cheaper for me to shop online.
How much importance do you place on sustainability in your business and how do you try to achieve this?
Trying to be responsible towards the world we live in is very important to me. All the packaging materials used at Victoria Goss are paper based including the sticky tape. My local Post Office is a mile and a half away and I try to take as many parcels as possible to it either on foot or by electric bicycle to minimise my car use. I also gift monthly to the Woodland Trust to enable more trees to be planted to offset carbon emissions.
Where and how can customers reach you?
You can find Victoria Goss at www.victoriagoss.co.uk. Please browse the different styles of pure cotton nightwear and if you have any queries give me a call on 01263 860891 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love getting to know my customers and talking about the nightwear with them so please don’t hesitate to contact me.