Last week we took our kids clothing range and varying products to West Quay shopping centre for our first ever pop-up shopping event. We were part of a local enterprise event and had several other small businesses selling alongside us.
milksok.com is in the very early stages of launching and myself and Joe are taking the big step in to self employment to fulfil our dream and create our vision of alternative kids fashion; clothing designed with a bit of an edge, is responsibly made but looks awesome. Having designed and developed a range of products we were ready to get our online shop live, we really wanted to promote our launch day as much as possible so what better way than with a cheeky little pop-up event. So when the wonderful people at the Princes Trust let me know about this enterprise event in Southampton it was perfect. We now had a date in mind to launch the site and could talk to other local business owners and the customers that we want to engage with.
Although it was a very quiet couple of shopping days (Monday and Tuesday no less!) it was great to be able to engage with our local community and gain valuable feedback about our precious Milksok range.
We have grown to love and defend our designs and would have found it utterly heartbreaking if others didn’t love them too, luckily the response was good and people seemed to share our vision (I 100% did not influence their responses….much!!)
One thing that is abundantly clear is that being surrounded by big faceless brands and shops, Milksok is not that, we are small, we are local, we are independent. We have no big wig CEO driving sales and making our customers commodities (and thank goodness for that!) We are the underdogs, but everyone loves an underdog right?
Being on the lower shopping level in the November cold (typically the heating had gone, the underdog just cant catch a break!) We were not disheartened, we were not put off. Being in that environment gave us a sobering reality check leaving us thinking about 1) how supremely hard a journey we are undertaking just to be seen within our chosen market and 2) how much we want it and how fired up we are to achieve success.
During these two days I was joined by some really nice people, we are all sharing the same vision and dream to make a living off of being a small independent business owner. Myself and a couple of others are at the early stages of launching, whereas a few others were a little further along than us and it was great being able to chat and share experiences. We were certainly a motley crew with a very varied business type. However one thing rang true for all of us we want to offer an alternative shopping experience, one where the customer feels valued, where we learn from them and have great communication. We want to offer a great shopping experience; I for one want my customers to remember us and come back .
So whilst we might not be opening up in a huge shopping centre anytime soon, we at Milksok value the experience of setting up in one, albeit only for a couple of days!
Long live the small independent business - where customers matter and the products are true!!
If you want to check out the motley crew I mentioned then please find their websites below. They are each lovely and unique and would offer some brilliant christmas present ideas! You would be buying local and supporting small enterprise!
Hayley Robb www.beautifulbritishcrafts.co.uk
Mark Lyman www.newforestwoodturning.com
Holly Clarleson & Adrian Woolner www.bigmouththeatre.com
Lauren Chapman www.labelbyellvn.co.uk