Owner: Louisa Houchen, Company Director
Number of outlets: online only
Markets: Bespoke Giftware[/ap_tagline_box]
Modern Retail talks to Louisa Houchen, owner of online store Louisa Houchen – Creator of Pet Portraits & Bespoke Gifts
MR: How do you aim to stand out as a brand?
LH: I’m offering a unique creative service, not just an illustration of your pet, but a whole world of choices for bespoke products with your pets’ portrait on. As the production process is relatively quick, prices are affordable and I will keep them that way.
MR: How would you sum up your target customer?
LH: People who love their pets – and there’s a lot of us! Wide age range, online/high street/event shoppers.
MR: Why should people shop with you?
LH: I’m a one woman band; I greatly appreciate each individual customer and my standards of customer service are exceptional. I can definitely make customers happy by providing fantastic affordable pet portraits within a 2 week turnaround.
MR: What do you want to do differently to your competitors?
LH: I am not aware that there is anyone else doing exactly what I am – in the creative process and the range of bespoke gifts on offer. I want to modernize pet portraits by creating hand/computer drawn images that can be printed onto any product.
MR: What challenges do you face as a business, and how do you aim to overcome them?
LH: At the moment I have suppliers to produce a wide range of gifts including t-shirts, bags, and mugs. When a customer would like their pet portrait printed on their car for example, it could be a challenge! However with enough research and contacts anything is possible.
MR: How do you use technology/media/ecommerce to improve your offering?
LH: Customers can place an order through emailing me their pets’ photograph. Then payment is made on receipt of the proof via bank transfer, or PayPal. There is also the old fashioned non technological cheque payment!
MR: What do you love about your work/business/brand?
LH: Making people happy. I love animals and I appreciate the joy they bring. Creating beautiful and fun illustration of pets is what I love and I’m very good at it!
MR: What advantages/disadvantages does your location bring?
LH: I work from home selling online and you can also find my work promoted in a few pet shops/garden centres etc. local to me in Sidcup Kent, and my mother who helps with promotion and is located in Haywards Heath, Sussex.
MR: What are your growth aims for the next 12 months?
LH: To establish promotion in more shops including pet shops, garden centres and gift shops. It would be fantastic if I could connect with a chain such as Pets at Home.
MR: What advice would you give to a new retail start-up based on your experience?
LH: Be patient, persistent and hard working. It takes time to build a loyal customer base but if you have a great product(s), pricing and attitude you cannot fail. Focus on Twitter to promote your retail business, which is an excellent way to build popularity and generate sales.