Katy Widdowson launched her company, Bojangle Beads, in 2009. Bojangle Beads sells a plethora of beads and all the equipment necessary to make unique items of jewellery, whilst the company also provides engaging jewellery-making workshops that continue to prove popular.
Starting up the business during a period that saw the country enduring a nationwide recession, Loughborough University graduate Katy emerged on the other side with Bojangle Beads continuing to grow from strength to strength.
“I had some personal funding, but not enough to realise my dream,” said Katy of starting the business.
“I researched possible funding sources and found the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity, which provides loans for new business ideas and young businesses needing investment. I was thrilled that my application was approved – I received £6,000.
“Starting out in business isn’t just about money though,” she added.
“There was a lot I didn’t know about launching my own company, but I was lucky to receive fantastic support from my family and friends. My first job was to compile a detailed business plan. I researched my options and planned my time efficiently so that I could get everything done and allocate my funds wisely.”
Whilst many companies suffered as a result of the recession, Katy revealed that Bojangle Beads was one that actually benefitted, due to the emphasis on people looking towards the concept of hand-making gifts.
Today, Katy has an established shop in Loughborough and has taken on new members of staff to cater for Bojangle Beads’ high demand.
“On the face of it, we couldn’t have launched Bojangle Beads at a less auspicious time, but we have thrived despite – or maybe because of – the recession,” Katy said.
“In 2011, demand for our beads and workshops were so great, we had to move to a larger shop to accommodate both a wider product range and the growing number of people wanting to join our classes.
“We have also grown from two to five employees to keep up – and increase the creative input to our workshops.
Our shop on Loughborough’s Church Gate is open five days a week, but being your own boss does give you a certain amount of flexibility. Anyway, the shop is a lovely place to be and I do enjoy being with my colleagues – which is just as well as they include my mum, dad and husband!
“The shop is busy, and our online store sees a lot of traffic. We have an extensive email database of customers who we keep in regular touch with, sharing updates on promotions, new product lines and upcoming workshops.
“With careful use, these channels can be an invaluable communication tool – they have a wide reach and, best of all, are free.
“Now that we are settled into our shop and business is good, continuing to grow the online side of things is a priority for us.”
To find out more about Bojangle Beads, visit their website at www.bojanglebeads.co.uk