Many SMEs are founded after an entrepreneur experiences a life-changing event. In the case of Amy Richards and her fashion boutique Sterling and Hyde, it was a motorcycle accident that caused her to revaluate her priorities.
After Richards’ husband was hospitalised after a devastating crash, they both moved to the Mornington Peninsula. Richards had always wanted to open a fashion boutique, and says this was the life-changing event “that gave me the courage to do so”.
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Richards had been casually creating designs for handbags on weekends, and started making more. In 2010, Sterling and Hyde opened, specialising in women’s accessories.
Retail is under a significant amount of pressure at the moment, but Richards is attempting to counter that through intense focus on customer service.
“Customer service is a core focus. If a customer loves a handbag but wants a different colour we will make it for them. If they are heading home we ship to them, or if they have found a great necklace we will alter it for them.
“Our approach has proven to be successful. Our store is performing well because of our clear focus on the customer, thereby stocking the products they want, and going above and beyond the standard store to provide service.”
Some of these methods include free repairs and attention to detail, such as calling each customer to ensure they’ve received the product delivered in the mail.
Richards says the business is already profitable after just three months, and is expanding quickly through social media. And with the keen focus on customer service, Richards says she’s confident that her customer base will continue to grow.
“That instant feedback and tangible results are the most rewarding aspect,” she says.