For our next Client Feature, I spoke to Julia Grant, owner of Winter’s Moon, which is an independent gift and homewares shop, selling beautiful and unique products in Chichester city centre.
Tell us a little bit about your business – when it started etc:
Winter’s Moon sells a range of vintage, fairtrade, and handmade homewares and gifts. The business began in a very low-key way in 2010.
We started initially with a website and then took on a studio space on the north side of the city for photography and storage, which we still use.
We experimented with pop-up spaces over the years, and after a successful pop-up in Christmas 2019, Winter’s Moon took on a permanent shop at 29 North St. in the old Andrew Macdowell shop in February 2020 – just before the lockdown was announced.
What does a normal day consist of/look like for you?
My days can be very varied which I enjoy. I try to fit in an early walk with friends or swim once or twice a week.
Most days will involve packing online orders, as our website is a key part of our business, followed by planning marketing campaigns, working on new products, and supporting the staff in the store.
We have just grown to a team of five so staff training is ongoing to ensure Winter’s Moon offer a wonderful in-store customer experience.
What do you love about being based in the centre of Chichester?
I love the scale of the city – it’s big enough to have amazing cultural institutions such as Pallant House Gallery and the Festival Theatre, but small enough to walk round the walls in an hour or so.
The size of Chichester also means we know many of our customers by name and see them often which makes for a very friendly working week.
I also think we are truly blessed with the architecture, and having the harbour and the downs on our doorstep.
What have been some of your biggest challenges during the global pandemic?
We had only been in the Winter’s Moon shop for a week or so properly when the lockdown started, so it felt like we were steering in the dark at times.
Currently, we have only had four and a half consecutive months of being open since that first lockdown. So it has been really hard to make any decisions based on previous turnover etc. And as a result of going in and out of lockdown, we have had spikes in sales that weren’t necessarily a true indicator of what normal trade would be like at that time of year.
The challenges on the supply chains have also affected us – stock taking far longer to arrive, or with no production date on the calendar at the current time. Then throw in Brexit with the added duties on shipments, issues with shipping to customers overseas etc. It’s all been very challenging to say the least.
But we are still here, which I consider an achievement in itself.
Do you have any future goals for the business or things you are looking forward to as life has started to return to normal?
Our goal is simply – steady, stable growth, following such a turbulent beginning on the high street. I am lucky to have a really great hardworking team, a very loyal customer base, and a lovely shop with a constantly evolving product range. I’m confident that as Chichester and the wider community settle into the new normal, Winter’s Moon can achieve this goal.
I also hope that the losses of the bigger retailers in Chichester will create opportunities for more independents to take on premises so that Chichester can grow its reputation as a really interesting destination.
How have Blue Spire helped you with your business:
The team at Blue Spire have made the last 18 months far less daunting than it could have been. My business brain is very much focused on the creative side of things, and have found the accounting side of things hugely daunting. But from my initial meeting with Katie, I felt really supported and that no question, no matter how basic, was out of bounds.
It has been a huge learning experience, so I’m really grateful that Blue Spire were recommended to me as the whole team have been on hand to help me navigate the business through the last 18 months.
|For any help or business advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Blue Spire today.|