A bespoke ethical jewellery designer and retailer has seen start-up loans success thanks to the Let’s Do Business Group.
India Mahon, owner of India Mahon bespoke jewellers, received a £5,000 start-up loan to help launch her new online business headquartered in Gloucestershire.
India applied for the loan via the Start-Up Loans (SUL) Scheme and the loan was paid out in February 2014 just four weeks after application, with two of those weeks taken up by India planning the financial side of things.
The loan was sought to cover development costs of an e-commerce website.
Now, a year and a half on from receiving the new business funding, India reflects on the process involved in applying for funding and starting up a new business.
India said of the loan funding her new website: “It is enormously useful, it has given me a professional online presence, and is a very useful point for research. It is often the first point of contact with the brand for customers and potential suppliers; so I have continued to develop the website.
“The loan was very helpful, so was the discussions with the Business managers / mentors and their help focusing on the financial aspect of the business and the tools provided.
“Let’s Do Business Group were helpful, innovative, efficient and flexible, the fact that my interview was done via Skype was hugely helpful to me and their tone was professional without being patronising.”
Along with the funding you receive as a successful SUL applicant you also get access to the mentoring scheme.
“They advised me in some practical areas like insurance, their financial and forecasting tools were very useful,” said India.
Starting up India Mahon
After starting a career in the creative industry, marketing and branding, working with luxury brands like Harrods, Cartier and Ralph Lauren, India decided to follow her dream.
“I had always wanted to set up my own creative business. I wanted to create a boutique jewellery brand; making hand-made ethical jewellery here in the Cotswolds. The jewellery had to be hand-made, bespoke, accessible price-wise with amazing good old fashioned customer service,” said the jeweller, “I was very lucky. I had 2 wonderful mentors. One ex-London jeweller and the second mentor an artisan jeweller from Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, together they got me started and mentored me into the industry.
“I have always loved making things, especially jewellery. My earliest memories are layering my grandmother’s jewels around my neck, wrists and fingers I loved jewellery, the more colourful the more I loved it!
“Later when I travelled a lot with my work I always made a beeline for the Artisan jewellers no matter where – India, Morocco, Turkey, Italy, Mexico wherever; coming home loaded with unusual beads, components and inexpensive colourful jewellery, and I could always find beautiful vintage textiles from street traders.”
Research, business planning and understanding your market
“First I did a huge amount of research,” continued India, “jewellery is a huge and crowded market and as much of the initial investment was personal I wanted to understand the market, the consumers and the competition, giving myself and the business the most robust start I could.
“Next I started to write my business plan – I am constantly updating and maintaining the plan as well as the financials, marketing activities and actions that flow from the plan.
“At the same time I started to experiment with my signature style, whilst I love designing a piece around a big statement stone, you have to be realistic and commercially focused so I have honed my designs over time to smaller, delicate pieces where less is definitely more! It is often the simplicity of the piece that capture’s a client’s eye.”
“My business is continuing to grow; the bespoke aspect of my work is growing, so much so that I am expanding the boutique in October to accommodate a meeting and consultation area for bespoke clients.
“In October this year I am extending and refurbishing the boutique to include new lighting, display furniture and a consultation area for commission discussions with clients.”
If you’d like to find out more, or if you’re ready to fill out a Starting Your Enterprise form, follow the links below: