Our second small business showcase this week is the lovely Sophia Victoria Joy. Sophia is based near Winchester, Hampshire and founded her family-run business in June 2010. She joined notonthehighstreet.com just one month later.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I went to Winchester School of Art and studied Graphic Arts. While I was at uni I already had big ideas on what I wanted to do afterwards; I had always wanted design my own range. I started working for Cath Kidston and used to scurry home to design greetings cards, gift wrap and accessories. As things progressed I knew I was working on something special.
What inspired you to set up your own business and what continues to inspire you today?
Ever since I can remember I wanted to work hard at something that mattered to me and see all that hard work paying off. Coming up with an idea and watching it become a best seller within weeks is the best feeling in the world. I’m inspired by the difference that can be made in a single day. Getting up in the morning and working hard on my dream is amazing. I don’t think that feeling will ever wear off!
How did you build up your brand identity?
I set out to build a fresh, new and environmentally-friendly brand. Hand-printed wrapping paper and beautiful trimmings were part of my very first collection and continue to feature strongly. I ensured that my brand identity was never compromised as a I built up an ever-strong British and eco-friendly collection of products.
Over time, and with a little help from some friends, I began to experiment with new materials, giving them the Sophia Victoria Joy twist and weaving memories into everything I create. Our range has now expanded to personalised keepsake boxes, iPhone covers, building blocks and Christmas decorations.
What attracted you to notonthehighstreet.com?
I love to give unique and special gifts so actually discovered the site as a customer. I instantly loved the marketplace and what they stood for as a business. It seemed like a great opportunity that seemed to really fit with my brand. I applied in 2010 and haven’t looked back.
Selling with notonthehighstreet.com has been a fantastic experience. Over time I have grown to know the customer and it has helped shaped the products I have developed. I had only dreamed of the success which we are experiencing today and selling through notonthehighstreet.com has taught me that any dream can be achieved with hard work and great support. The team have worked incredibly hard with us over the past few years and I can honestly say we would not be where we are today without their hard work and dedication.
You have two storefronts on notonthehighstreet.com – tell us a little bit about each of them
Sophia Victoria Joy is our main storefront. Here you can find precious, personalised gifts which you can lovingly wrap with thoughtful trimmings, tags and ribbons.
Our Sophia Victoria Joy ETC shop is a curated collection of party and entertaining ideas and treats! They’re all the little extras that we love to surprise our family and friends with so we wanted to share them with our customers too. You can take your pick from traditional swirly lollipops, cute candy canes, retro sweets, children’s personalised party hats and lots more.
My favourite product is our polar bear personalised Christmas decorations. I think that they are such a sweet personalised decoration which the whole family can enjoy and treasure for years to come. Decorating the Christmas tree as a child is one of my favourite memories, and I still to this day get that excited feeling when the time comes to decorate the tree! I am so pleased that we can bring our customers a personalised product which will play a part in those special Christmas memories year after year.
Have you had any struggles along the way?
Like with any business there have been trying times. Meeting demand last Christmas was our biggest struggle yet. We had orders popping into our inbox every few minutes, but not enough hours in the day for me to personalise and pack them. But in my experience the greater the struggle, the bigger the success. My favourite quote which I often remind myself of is: “if it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It is the hard that makes it great”. I learnt a valuable lesson and this year we are so much more prepared in every way – most importantly we now have a wonderful team behind us.
As the team has grown it has been a learning curve having to hand over precious responsibilities and allow others to help me. Seeing every member of the team care about every little detail and our customers just like I do has helped me take those all-important steps back. It’s been amazing to develop close relationships with the team and I think that working together will be the making of Sophia Victoria Joy.
Where do you go to work every day?
It’s been a long journey to get to where we are today. As most businesses do it started out with just me and now I employ six others, including my partner and sister. I am lucky enough to work in a stunning rural barn (The Byre) just on the outskirts of the cathedral city of Winchester. The barn is nestled within the great British countryside and sheep, pheasants, owls, deer and guinea fowl can all be spotted within a few steps from the front door. It is such an inspiring place to work.
What are your plans for the future?
The future of Sophia Victoria Joy is looking bright and we will never stop innovating. Now we have a team at the barn, we are looking forward to working closely together to launch new, unique and personalised products. We will always continue to offer bespoke gifts which enable our customers to share their most important memories in life. I know moving forward we will continue to turn dreams into reality. The strong level of trust and understanding between us and notonthehighstreet.com has enabled us to turn lightbulb ideas into best sellers within the blink of an eye.
What bit of advice would you give to other small businesses?
Just go for it. It is not easy at all and there will be problems and difficulties along the way, however if you keep going and don’t give up on your dream the rewards will far outweigh any struggles you face along the way. Getting up each day to work on your dream and see it become reality really is the best job in the world.
Read all about Small Business Saturday here.