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Friday, 26 November 2010

One Step Ahead - Lymington Boutique is Best New Business

Sarah Fitzgerald, owner of
In These Shoes
In These Shoes, a shoe and handbag boutique in Lymington, has been honoured as the region’s ‘Best New Business’.  The award was given at a ceremony last night by the New Forest Business Partnership.  Owner Sarah Fitzgerald was recognised for style, innovation and community inclusiveness.  In These Shoes was nominated for the award in large numbers of its customer base and judges felt Sarah’s presentation was exceptional and customer service concepts, unique and engaging.

There are currently around 680,000 majority women-owned businesses in the UK generating £45 billion to the UK economy.* Terms such as ‘mumpreneur’ are indicative of the way the business landscape is changing.   Outside of big business, kitchen-table enterprises are thriving.

Yet, against a backdrop of global recession; with familiar high street brands falling to the wayside; setting up a new retail business, might have been a daunting prospect.  In 2009, Sarah Fitzgerald, owner of ‘In These Shoes’ in Lymington, faced the fear and did it anyway.

Fitzgerald says “it was scary but we have been open for just over a year now and I love it.  We have all seen the high street change but I really wanted a showcase for our shoes, handbags and accessories and it’s something I’m really proud of.”

Sarah took the business from selling 50 pairs of her own shoes from under her stairs to family and friends, to running ‘shoe parties’ from home, to setting up the shop and guiding others to run home and shop-based shoe parties.  Sarah also now offers the shoe party plan business as a franchise opportunity for women across the UK.

In These Shoes was crowned ‘Best Loved Business in the New Forest’ by the ‘Best of’ group, earlier this year.  Sarah too was recently recognised, in the final three of the national Everywoman Specsavers award for ‘Best Female Entrepreneur’.

In These Shoes has played an increasingly important role in the community, sponsoring local charity initiatives and working with other businesses in the area to cross-promote to customers.  Nearly Well over 3000 customers have joined the mailing list, which updates shoppers with the latest news and events and offers discounted treatments on reflexology at local beauty salons.

Fitzgerald continues; “we have a wish list so that husbands and boyfriends know exactly what to buy for birthdays and Christmas and we like to say thank you to all of our customers with monthly prize draws.

Most of all, I want the shop to be engaging – we have comfy sofas and we spend time with our customers to make sure that they get the right gift.  It’s an unashamedly girly experience and it’s fun!  As a job, it’s a whirlwind but it’s also a dream come true.  I spend a lot of time at shows scouting out new season shoes and handbags so that we have something perfect and on-trend for everyone.  Looking to the future, the focus is very much on customer service but we are laying the foundations for the franchise business and like I always say, who knows what else?  In these shoes, anything could happen!”

For more information on the shop, the franchise opportunity or to find out how to run a shoe party, visit the website at http://www.intheseshoes.co.uk/

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