With a background in retail, Judith Brook from Leicester, decided to make the best of a “midlife crisis” (her words!) and turned her hobby into a business.
Bluebell & Brook (www.bluebellandbrook.co.uk) is an online fabric retailer that sells sewing patterns, haberdashery and fabrics to needlework enthusiasts across the UK. Working with NBV Enterprise Solutions business adviser, Craig Pearson, Judith has now successfully married her past career with her lifelong creative pursuits.
Judith said: “It’s a bit of a sink or swim situation deciding to leave the rat race and start an even more frenetic way of life.
“I have a love of being creative and have always enjoyed sewing as a hobby. When I identified a gap in the market, along with an imminent midlife crisis, it was the perfect time to take the plunge.”
Upon deciding to go into business, Judith ran an online search and found an NBV office close to her in central Leicester. Although Judith had been involved in all aspects of running businesses over the years, she had no previous knowledge of e-commerce and found herself having to start from scratch.
Speaking about her development throughout the Business Start-up programme, Craig said: “Judith came to me with a real vision for her business and a willingness and desire to learn new skills.
“She has taken advantage of a number of the free NBV master classes and is slowly, but surely, mastering the world of the web, search engine optimisation and social media.”
Little did she know, once started, the whole family would be on board. The Bluebell & Brook team include Judith’s daughter Sarah as Creative Director; daughter Rachel as style-guru; her sister Mandy as web designer, and finally, Bluebell the cat who owns the trademark name!
Judith said: “My family and friends have been really encouraging. Rachel has been the voice of common sense and pragmatism; she’s helped tremendously with the stock system, orderings and putting things in perspective. As well as building up traffic for the website through social media and advertising.
“The website always needs tweaking and Sarah has excelled herself designing, taking photos, and speaking words of reassurance.”
Amazed at the amount of help there is for start-up and growing businesses, Judith has decided to stick with us at NBV Enterprise Solutions and enrol on the Grow your Business Programme, making the most of the support available.
“I read somewhere that you have more chance of succeeding if you take as much advice and go on as many courses as possible, this I’ve done. Although it’s hard work trying to take on board new ideas, it’s so exciting and rewarding.”
Continuing to work with Craig Pearson on the Grow your Business Programme, she will receive a personal business needs assessment, access to one-to-one mentoring sessions and attend master classes that with further build upon her knowledge and skills.
Craig concludes by saying: “Her work ethic will help her to grow Bluebell & Brook, and her sense of humour should keep her going when the going gets tough. Judith has signed up for the Grow Your Business programme and I am looking forward to supporting her over the coming months.”