At Klarna we are dedicated to the small businesses at the core of our economy, and believe it’s vital that they’re given all the tools they need to survive. Following new research revealing a quarter (24%) of SMEs aren’t confident their business will survive the next two years, and 46% of owners stating their main priority is to simply survive the next six months, we launched a £3m Small Business Support Package to help British SMEs recover from the pandemic. We hope that the Support Package, alongside our ten-part Accelerator Programme, will inspire and boost confidence across the SME sector. In addition to this, we are hosting inspiring small UK businesses on our blog to discover their stories.
This week we sit down with Kathryn Stuart, Director of Kathryn’s. One of the oldest and most exclusive childrenswear boutiques in Liverpool, Kathryn’s specialises in high end designer brands for everyday and special occasions. Its webstore is now THE destination for the UK’s most fashionable tots and teens and digital sales are booming. Here Kathryn shares her story:
Hi Kathryn! Tell us how your business born?
The business was founded by my parents Paul and Doreen Tipping in 1975. I took over just after the millennium with my late husband and, in 2012, was joined by my daughters Emily and Elizabeth. We brought in Simon to launch and manage our website in 2017. All our team is passionate about children’s’ fashion and we love working with our amazing customers.
What was the biggest hurdle you faced starting up?
The retail market is really competitive with luxury brands often the preserve of big London retailers like Harrods. We needed to let people know there was an alternative. A family-friendly local business, with a huge selection of high-end names all under one roof.
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
It means I can do things my way and have full control of how the business performs. All the lessons my parents taught me can be kept alive, helping to provide customers with great shopping experiences they love.
What investment decision has had the most impact on your business?
Moving online – it helped us survive when COVID locked stores down. As a traditional store-based retailer, we had concerns about the cost and resource involved but with the right management and expertise, we’ve created a digital experience we’re proud of.
Has the pandemic impacted you and how have you bounced back?
The pandemic affected every retailer, one way or another. Having to close our doors was the worst thing I’ve ever done. Younger customers simply switched to the website but older customers still wanted that personal touch. Targeted marketing, great service and telephone support helped to convert them to the new channel.
What are your ambitions for the future, and what do you want to hold on to as your business grows?
We want to keep going from strength to strength. To bring on more luxury brands and continue our expansion programme into the US and Middle East. As we grow, I want to hold on to the care and consideration that we give our customers.
What advice would you give others looking to launch a retail business?
Go with your heart, if it feels right just do it. Before investing in new channels, get the right people in place, so you can stay focused on the business. Work with partners (like Klarna) and never be afraid to ask for support.