What made you decide to start your own business?
I think running a business only suits a certain type of person and I knew for a long time that it was what I needed to do. I put it off for nearly a decade due to a number of reasons but mainly lifestyle/finances/laziness. But I soon realised it was the path I had to go down in order to be fully happy in my working life. Stress played a big part in helping me make the leap. I would cry after or before work a lot. Mainly because of the pressures that were on me and the industry I was in (fast fashion isn’t pretty).
I’m a little bit angry at myself for not going for it sooner but I’ve learnt that everything I’ve done before this point has helped me across many elements of the business. Whether it be education or experience, it was the bread and butter that I needed to make my sandwich!
I love the magazine page packaging! What gave you the idea for this?
I’ve always tried to utilise what I already have in all aspects of my life so when it came to setting up Jeneral Store, it was a case of looking around me and asking myself how I could create something unique and sustainable on a budget. I looked into buying/sewing drawstring pouches for the scrunchies, but it was just coming out super expensive and time consuming. I then had a brainwave to use magazine pages as I’ve collected Vogue for years, and it made me sad that all this beautiful imagery was sat on my shelf with no purpose. I did a little mock-up and felt it worked really well with the brands aesthetics. I also love that each pouch is totally unique, teared from a magazine with some dating back to the early 2000s.
On a similar topic, why do you see sustainability as such an important thing for your brand?
Before starting Jeneral Store I was an Account Merchandiser for a fashion brand in Manchester. I was supplying high volume product to some of the UK's biggest Fast Fashion retailers so I saw the impacts on mass production, contribution to pollution and the treatment of garment workers. Daily I would push for cheaper prices, demand earlier shipment dates and place orders for a scary mass of product. It got to a point where I couldn’t be a part of it anymore, and more importantly I wanted to build a decent brand that’s ethics were transparent and fair.
If you had to choose, what would be your fave product from your store?
It has to be the cloud scrunchies! They’re super fun to make - I’ve recently introduced printed clouds with daisies, strawberries and feathers. They feel so cute and beautiful to wear, I’m obsessed! As I always keep the first sample of every one I make, my own collection is getting a little bit ridiculous, I need some serious scrunchie storage. We’re in the middle of buying a house so maybe I’ll dedicate a room to scrunchies! Can you imagine!
What’s your proudest/best moment of running your own business so far?
This is a difficult one because I get so buzzed when I hit each little goal that I set myself, but the brand is still so new and I’m still finding my feet. I’ve only been trading 6 months so in terms of big moments I know I’ve got a long way to go but I’m loving every minute of it. Collaboration is a big thing for me, so getting to work with incredible independent businesses (like ROR!) is really inspiring.
And finally, because it’s independent retailer month, other than ROR of course, what other indie brands are your faves?
During lockdown I’ve seen so many little independents pop up and I’m loving that people are getting creative and driven! There’s a real sense of small-business-love and partnership, especially on Instagram – I’d recommend checking out @holliivia (the cutest gingham puff ball bags), @speightscribbles and @theprintstudiomcr are two close friends of mine that are incredible print designers with an array of beautiful artworks on etsy. @summer.morning.studios also make insanely cool hand-crafted candles in Edinburgh.
Who is your fave independent retailer?
Bethan ROR XXX