Article by Tracy from Pickle Pie
Pickle Pie is the brainchild of myself and my friend Sandra Dowse. We have been friends for over 8 years now and for a long time we have talked about doing something together and then just over 6 months ago we decided to stop talking about it and just go for it! We took the attitude that unless we take the risk and go for it, we will just never know! This was obviously decided over a large glass of wine one Friday night in Sandra’s kitchen!
That weekend back in late January, we designed the prints, bought 10 frames and that Sunday evening we launched 3 different prints on to Sandra’s already existing business’ Facebook page – project:me that had 200 followers. We sold all 10 frames in a week and gained 100 more followers. So we quickly set up “Pickle Pie” on Facebook that very weekend. Bought our website domain name and here we are! In six months we have over 3,300 facebook fans, over 800 twitter followers, a gorgeous website and have been featured in BBC Homes and Antiques Magazine, Good Homes Magazine, The Scotland on Sunday Style Bible and Reveal magazine called us their website of the week!!! We set a target for the end of March which we reached in our 3rd week and we haven’t looked back since. The name comes quite simply from the fact it is something we both call our children and realised that the evening we were chatting and getting more and more animated as our ideas formed, and decided it was fate and the perfect name, and people do seem to find the name quite charming.
I am a married 37 year old full time Mum to my 2 daughters, Holly (5) and Chloe (2). Before I had children I worked on the trading floor at JPMorgan for over 13 years – so my world now could not be more removed form my old life. I had felt for a long time my job was soulless and the hours it demanded and the stress I was under, meant I knew that when I started a family it was not something that would compliment the lifestyle I wanted for my family. It was a big decision to walk away from my career, but not one I regret one bit. I never grew up with an urge to be a merchant banker, but I have always felt that owning my own business is something I should be doing, and I always had the feeling that one day I would! Sandra and I are very similar in that way and Sandra had already shown her entrepreneurial side by setting up project:me which offers craft courses for the “cupcake and champagne” generation and is extremely popular. Sandra is currently a full time Marketing & Business manager at a popular Jewellery Wholesale company, and has always worked in the creative field. She has always been someone who wants to achieve other goals outside of work and her creative brain never sleeps! I don’t know anyone who is as busy as she is – she never ever stops. She is married and has a little boy called William who is almost one, and he made his entrance into the world a little earlier than planned, but is a happy, healthy and gorgeous little boy now!
We feel we really complement each other with our skills set. Sandra is the creative brain behind the business with the odd idea from me thrown in and likewise I deal with the business side and I’m customer facing with Sandra’s constant input. We made a pledge to each other to not make a decision without running it past each other, but we are so on the same wavelength and know very clearly where we want pickle pie to be that the process is easy. We want to scale up the business so we are at a place that this takes over. Neither of us are afraid of hard work and have been working long hours into the evenings, as often it is the only time we can get together without children all around etc to plan ideas.
With Pickle Pie we wanted to be able to offer people contemporary style pieces for the home but not at prices that make them unachievable for most people. We wanted to be able to reach out to everyone and make our products ascertainable to the mass market, and felt there was a real niche in the market for that. As cheesy as this sounds, we also wanted the business to have real heart and soul. We want it to feel very personal and that you are not ordering through a click to order system and it feeling faceless.
We want to get to know people and connect with them. We recently had a customer email us to say that she had given her Mum her Mother’s day print and that her and her mum have a very strained relationship but the print had meant so much to her mum, as her mum finally realised just how much she did know and love her, and that she couldn’t thank us enough for bridging that gap. Getting comments like that means that pickle pie is having the reactions we want – we want people to feel something when they receive their print or are given it as a gift.
We also knew that getting the customer service right was key, especially as we start out. So we respond to everyone as quickly as we can – 7 days a week and go out of our way to please and accommodate everyone. This has worked well and on average 40% per week of our business is repeat business already.
We have learnt very quickly that social networking is playing a huge role in our success so we have had to get up to scratch on how to maximise this and we are learning about this little world all the time.
We are working with organisations such as the NCT, which mean something to us as we both made great friends through the NCT when our children were born, with prints that fundraise for the organisation as that was one of our aims, to genuinely feel we are giving back even in some small way. We have donated lots and lots of prints to various charity functions/auctions etc too and it’s a lovely feeling when we do that! We want to upscale the business and grow it quickly, and feel from its birth 10 weeks ago we are on the right road. We don’t want to compromise though on our designs or our ethics to get there and personalisation is the key to us. Everything is personal in our range, we don’t offer generic prints – every print is a bespoke piece of art.
We are constantly working on our ranges and have lots of ideas we will be showcasing throughout the year. So far Pickle Pie seems to have touched a chord with people and we hope to maintain that and grow our fledgling little business and make it a huge success!
If we had one piece of advice, it would be don’t talk about it – do it, be brave and give it a try – oh and laugh A LOT – especially when you don’t always get it right.
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