An Interview with…Doris Designs

Ladies Petticoats

Tell us a little bit about you and your business.

I am a 32 year old mummy of Albert, born in June last year. My background is marketing and I am currently on my maternity leave from my full time job. I’ve always wanted to set up my own business and kept changing my mind what I wanted to do. Whilst pregnant I saw my maternity leave as a window of opportunity to set up my own business, so I spent my pregnancy researching how to do this. Four weeks after Albert was born I launched my designs at Vintage at Southbank event.

My business sells vintage style petticoat skirts for adults and children in various colours and sizes. The adults have over 30 metres worth of layer upon layer of luxurious chiffon fabric and each one is carefully made to the highest of standards.

They are perfect for proms, parties, weddings, christenings, festivals or just as a retro statement the uses go on and on.

What made you decide to start Doris Designs?

Whilst wandering one day through a Vintage fair in 2010 I spotted a gap in the market for high quality, soft, full bodied and pretty petticoats. There were no other stalls selling them so during my pregnancy I started to investigate further. I researched manufacturers, the market, funding, web design, online payment processors, PR and bloggers. By the time Albert was born I had done enough leg work to launch a few weeks later.

Where are you based?

I am based in Surrey.

What made you decide on the name ‘Doris Designs’

This is an interesting one. My middle name is Doris (after my late Grandmother). Growing up it was the embarrassment of my life as people would always tease me. At school I would tell people that teachers got my middle name incorrect and that it was actually Dorothy – funnily enough I have a retailer called Dorothy who now stock my skirts. When I graduated at university and my middle name was announced my friends let out a giggle, which echoed though the church where we were graduating. That was the first time in my life that I laughed along too and said to myself one day when I set up a business I would call it Doris because it’s a name that has attracted so much attention all my life, and a name people will not forget. It is also very sentimental to my mother as she lost her own mother, Doris, at such a young age, so it’s very special to the whole family. I registered the name with Companies House in 2006 and only started trading in 2011 on my maternity leave, which I am still on.

What’s your favourite or the most popular item that you sell?

My favourite skirt is the peach adult, however the best seller across all adult and children’s skirts is grey. We have lots of new adult colours and lengths arriving in mid March, which I am really excited about, in particular the multi-coloured skirts and also the Jubilee and Olympic Games skirts which are in the Union Jack colours.

Gorgeous Petticoat

What are the best things about running your own business?

I love seeing and hearing positive feedback from my customers. This is what gives me the motivation to continue and better myself and my business. I also love learning about all things to do with running your own business and applying everything I have learnt. No day is the same, and you can choose what you want to do and when to do it.

What are the worst?

It’s tough when you have a baby (my son Albert is now 7 months old) and running your own business. My priority is Albert so I devote 80% of my time to him and the rest to the business. I work during his sleep times and in the evening. I have a very supportive family and network of friends who help me immensely, especially when I have business meetings.

Any memorable stories from running your own business?

One memorable story was doing my launch event in London and I had only given birth a few weeks before. I had to express in porta loos for three days and because I was in there such a long time people would bang on the door yelling for me to hurry up. My husband brought my son to visit me each day of the event as I missed him so much and to feed him. It was really hard work working long hours, and getting up in the night to feed. But I felt it was such an achievement, along with the support of my parents and best friend.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

Being with my son; He’s so happy and when I get a bit stressed one smile from him makes me forget everything and I suddenly feel beaming! I still manage to see a lot of my friends and family and I think it’s important to keep that balance.

What advice would you give to other mums thinking about starting up their own business?

Do it. Don’t look back in regret and think ‘I wish I had…’Think long-term, so try to do a bit here and there to grow your business. In my case, building contacts and marketing has been key. Also, organisation is imperative.Children's Lemon Petticoat

What plans do you have for Doris Designs in the future?

I am being contacted by lots of retailers so this is the next expansion plan. I am currently putting together a retail pack. Growth internationally is also key. I use Google analyticss to see where in the world people are visiting and purchasing from my website and it’s so interesting to see if there are opportunities to sell in different markets. Also, longer-term I plan to diversity the brand portfolio, but I don’t want to ‘run before I walk’.

 

Where can we find your products?

The majority of my sales are online and I am in the process of building up a retail network. So I’m writing the terms and conditions and putting together contracts etc. so hopefully by Spring there will be plenty of retailers on board.

Discount for More than Mummies Readers

Because I love More than Mummies so much, I have decided to offer readers a 10% discount across all products (including sales items). Please use the promotional code morethanmumies2012 at checkout.  This offer ends on Valentine’s Day (14th Feb).

 

If you would like to get in touch with Doris Designs email tania@dorisdesigns.co.uk or visit www.dorisdesigns.co.uk

 

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