Running a physical boutique store alongside Squarespace eCommerce and the Trouva marketplace (episode 158)

I know a lot of you out there are running your own boutique bricks and clicks business – selling out of your own physical store, and also online via your own site and also marketplaces. Taking on the roles of buyer, visual merchandiser, shop assistant, marketer and everything else.

Today we have a guest just like you on to share her wisdom…

Kirsty Patrick is the owner of Home byKirsty, a boutique bricks and clicks business in Cardiff, focused on homeware by leading British and Welsh design makers with a clean contemporary aesthetic. Kirsty launched with the physical store in 2014, and added the website in early 2015.

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home by kirsty podcast
About the business

  • eCommerce Business Structure – Boutique Bricks and Clicks
  • Product Range Scale – between niche and middle
  • On Squarespace
  • Also selling on the marketplace Trouva
  • Based in Cardiff, selling globally

Listen to learn about Trouva, an online website for physical boutiques, why Kirsty loves them, and why it’s important to work with businesses who share your values.

Getting Started

Kirsty’s background is in lighting design. After she graduated from studying design, she had her own lighting range but also wanted to have her own shop. While she was working as a visual merchandiser, she got some ideas together, did her research, found some designers who she wanted to represent in her shop, and took it from there.

Listen to learn about visual merchandising.

The Team

The team is just Kirsty and a friend who does copywriting for her on social media. It’s very important to Kirsty and the content comes from her directly, but she’s massively dyslexic so having a trusted friend who is good with the written side of things is very valuable.

Her Recent Change of Location

Home byKirsty had been in the city center right in the heart of Cardiff, a beautiful, historic location with a gorgeous window front. It seemed like the perfect location, but when Kirsty noticed a change in the footfalls in town, she began looking for a new location. After over six months of looking for the perfect spot, she came across a really nice little coach house and put a note through the door saying that if the owner ever wanted to rent it out, she’d love to rent it. The owner called her the next day saying that they were retiring and offering the coach house to her.

Her new location is next door to a weekly Farmers Market, which is nice for both getting lunch and getting customers. She was also able to cut down her work week. In town, she was open Tuesday through Saturday, and spent Sunday and Monday catching up on paperwork, emails, designers, and the website. Working seven days a week will take its toll. Now she takes Sunday and Monday off, organizes her week and does emails and invoicing on Tuesdays, and spends Wednesdays with creative content, blogs, social media, and photography. The store is open to customers Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Listen to learn how extremely important it is to take days off and recharge your batteries.

The Right Designers

Having the right makers and designers is crucial for Home byKirsty. They must work together and have the same sort of background. Having a product that is hugely mass-produced just wouldn’t sit right alongside her other products, which are meant to be loved for years to come. Knowing her designers also means that Kirsty can tell her customers who made the pieces, why they made it, and where they made it. That story is very valuable.

Listen to learn why choosing products is daunting.

Most Awesome Thing Right Now

The most awesome thing right now is Kirsty’s designers. She loves being able to showcase their products and give them a platform to be seen. Having the physical store is also great. Right now eCommerce is so important, but many people still love being able to come in and touch, feel, and see the products and their size, scale, and color. The shop is a great way to showcase the designers.

Advice to Folks Considering a Physical Store

Research. It’s so boring but so important. Kirsty sat in a coffee shop and asked questions of passers-by, which was awkward and hard, but let her know if people were interested in a shop like hers. She emailed her friends and family, asking them about things like what products and price points they would like. She does not like the written side of things, but she gained so many good answers. Listening to your customers is the biggest thing you can do.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

Instead of reading a book, Kirsty recommends going to a town or city you haven’t been to before and exploring the independent shops. See how the small shops in those places are working. Nose around the city.

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Instagram
  • Word of mouth

Listen to learn why Kirsty has a love-hate relationship with Instagram.

Tool Top Tip

  • Tick lists on stationary.

Growth Top Tip

  • Be really consistent with your story. Be you. Know why you do it and why you love it. People love to know why, and they are unsure of a business without a face behind it. They want to know about the person behind the business.

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