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Interviews

The Village Haberdashery Needs You!

We love hearing about small companies growing from strength to strength, so when Annie from the Village Haberdashery told us about her business plans for expansion a couple of months ago, we were really excited to find out more about the crowdfunding project. She needs to raise £80,000 pounds to make the expansion possible and is over the half way point already. She kindly agreed to sit down and answer a few questions about her journey so far and plans for the future. If you haven’t seen her video yet do have a look before reading on…

 We are super excited to hear about your new venture can you tell us a little bit more about what you are doing?

The Village Haberdashery is crowdfunding in order to raise the money that we need to fit out our new flagship shop! The new premises will open in 2016 – and will triple our floor space so we’ll be able to offer more classes in a bigger, brighter studio, we’ll be able to expand our product range, and we’ll be close to three rail lines (including the underground and overground) so our customers outside of West Hampstead can get to us really easily. We’re envisaging The Village Haberdashery as a craft lifestyle store; when you walk in the door you’ll be surrounded by ideas and inspiration for adding a handmade touch to your wardrobe or home.

Why did you decide to go down the crowdfunding route rather than a traditional loan?

We love the idea of having our customers be part owners of our company. As a small business we’re really engaged with our customers. I already ask them for feedback constantly, both through surveys and informally on Instagram, and we get a really good response so I know that our customers like being involved in the decisions we make and the direction we take as a business. And we will benefit by having hundreds of stakeholders – if our customers are literally invested in our success, they’ll be more likely to tell friends about The Village Haberdashery and be more loyal shoppers. That’s something no bank can offer.

What has been the biggest challenge of crowdfunding so far?

Trying to make believers out of investors who don’t know anything about our community. In writing our business plan I had to find a lot of research to back up what those of us in the maker community already know – this market is huge! The craft market in the UK is worth £3.4 billion a year and more than half of all women in the UK have a craft hobby. We tried to tell that story in our pitch and in our video so that investors who have no knowledge of the craft market will get a feel for its size and potential and won’t dismiss it as being too niche.

What can we hope to see in the new shop that you don’t have now?

With all of the space in the new shop, we have a huge opportunity to expand the sewing and knitting areas of our shop and cater to new craft hobbies. I’m really excited about this, because so many of our customers have multiple interests when it comes to making and they love trying new things. I also think it can be hard to know where to go for supplies for a lot of the non-sewing projects you see in modern craft lifestyle media like Mollie Makes and A Beautiful Mess. Papercraft, cardmaking and party craft are some of the new areas we’ll be expanding into. Everything we offer will be curated for the modern maker so I think that the evolution will feel really natural to our customers.

When will the new shop be open next year?

That is a great question! We are moving into a brand new building and it isn’t completed yet. I actually walk by it every day so I get to see it developing and that is really exciting. We are hoping to begin the fit out in the spring, with an open date in July. I can’t wait to get to the fit out stage. When we take over our new space it will be a blockwork shell and we’ll have to do everything from the plumbing to the electrics to laying the floors. The majority of the funds we raise will go into fitting out this space and turning it into our dream home!

 I know you are planning to open further shops after this one – are they all going to be London based? If so where in London where you thinking?

Moving to West Hampstead Square is the next step in a big plan we have to expand the shop. Our target is to have six shops by 2020. We will open 1-2 more in London and then we will look at expanding to other markets in the UK. I’ve got my eye on Richmond or Fulham for the second location and once we’ve settled into West Hampstead Square we’ll be working quickly to secure our next premises.

To find out more please head over to Crowdcubewhere you can read Annie’s business plan and keep track of her progress.

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