Feature Friday - NuJoolz at Creation|Collaboration
Welcome to the fourth of our Feature Fridays on Creation|Collaboration! Each Friday, we profile a woman run business by interviewing the founder and finding more out about them, their business, their life and loves!
For our fourth Feature Friday, we've chatted to Alison Thomson, owner of NuJoolz in East Scotland, a bespoke jewellery and tiara maker.
Hi Allie, introduce us to yourself and your company!
Hi C|C, my name is Alison Thomson and I am owner, designer and manufacturer of every piece of jewellery that carries the NuJoolz brand.
NuJoolz is a small family run company specialising in jewellery and tiaras for special occasions. I work predominantly with wire and beads and, as a result, no two items are ever identical. I also offer a bespoke service that allows certain styles of tiara or jewellery be customised or tailored to meet your own needs and wants. NuJoolz believes that, no matter what your budget, you deserve to feel and look like a princess on your special day.
Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
I never actually had an idea of running a business; I had taken a few wire work jewellery courses in the past because it interested me, I enjoyed it and used to make bits and pieces as gifts for family and friends but nothing more. Then I decided to get married. I chose my dress but, no matter where I looked, I just could not find a tiara that I wanted and imagined I would wear. I also wanted my bridesmaids to be wearing complimentary jewellery and matching hair pins.
So I came up with the idea of making my own, I had no reason not too, after all, I did have the skills. For my final dress fitting, I had to take accessories with me. The lady who owned the store was very impressed and asked if I had considered making them professionally. I said no but she insisted I should consider it and asked me to make two for her to display in the shop. I did and they both sold within a week. NuJoolz was born. Since then I have regularly supplied the store with tiaras, necklaces and bracelets.
What do you love most about your business?
I love making people happy. It gives me such a buzz on a Monday morning to open the local paper and see a page dedicated to those who married the previous week. I often spot things I made and seeing the bride look so happy and radiant fills me with joy. It is always nice when someone compliments your product.
What would you like to change?
I want to expand.. ideally I would like to attend wedding fairs more often and possibly have a dedicated studio. Like many women who set up a business, I work from home and that does not help with the work/life balance. I have considered getting a small summerhouse to give me somewhere to work and also meet customers to discuss their needs and wants. I also would like to work on my ability to photograph Swarovski beads - for some reason, I can never get the lighting correct and pictures are always either blurry or too dark.
What is your aim for the next year?
I have several aims for the next year, Firstly, we will be moving premises - to be able to work and grow, I need my own workspace, ideally with the facility to meet new clients. Secondly, we will be expanding our range to comply with requests for a slightly less formal but still delicate range to suit more informal weddings, engagements and weddings abroad. Our fun and funky range 'Sweet and Simple' will soon be available in some independent stores in Tayside. Finally, I would like to have our website performing beautifully, giving those who are not local to us the chance to buy one of our pieces. The overall plan is to expand and grow while still providing a one to one service
Where do you ultimately see yourself?
I just want to be happy. I would love to have my own store or concession and for my two daughters to follow me into jewellery making and have a true family run business. I would also love for some of my work to be featured in a national bridal magazine. I would love to open a "bricks and mortar" shop with some friends to provide what could only be described as a one stop wedding shop. Planning, dresses, accessories, invitations, cakes, favours ..... basically everything under one roof.
What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women ?
Tip 1 Never underestimate or dismiss legislation. It is there for a reason and if you chose to ignore it, it will return to bite you on the bum. Never underestimate the power of the taxman and other legal bodies!
Tip 2 Make use of your local business support group/Business Link. The people who work there have literally seen hundreds of business startups and are best placed to guide you. Many also offer free book/record keeping courses or networking events
Tip 3 Internet - do not underestimate the power of Facebook/Twitter and other forms of social networking. Over 53% of the population of Europe has home internet access and with the vast amounts of free publicity available online, you would be silly not to be exploiting it.
Tip 4 Networking. This is linked to Tip 3 - you need to get your business name 'out there'; it needs to start to be a recognisable brand name. Blogging, Facebook and Twitter pages all help with this as does networking within your local area. Get to know those setting up just like you, get to know your suppliers especially local ones.
Tip 5 Have patience. This is the hardest one but you need to sit back and let your hard work filter through. Everyone has slow periods and, in my experience, usually slow starts. Just keep plugging away and soon the sales/bookings will be coming thick and fast.