Rottingdean Local Spotlight
When I first decided to open Fiona Stewart Designer Silver I was fully aware that marketing and traditional advertising were my only real means of getting my message out to the village shopping public. I duly gathered all the local magazines and newspapers and contacted each, asking key questions such as “what is your current circulation” and “what audience currently reads you”. Making sure that people know you exist is absolutely key to making a business successful.
My doors opened on Burns night January 2008, which was rather apt as my family roots hail from Scotland and my husband Andy even owns the Stewart tartan kilt. The kilt was worn on the opening day which made my father proud to include the family history, the advertising was booked, the flyers were printed, the shop was fully stocked, (although I have to say less stocked than it is now), and we were off and trading.
In 2009 we saw the emergence of a social networking phenomenon called Twitter – I am sure many of you reading this will regularly see celebrities quoted in national newspapers directly from their Twitter feed. I was introduced to this networking opportunity by a friend who was in PR, Jo Brooks, and immediately immersed myself into this new outlet with gusto. The aim of Twitter is to follow and be followed by as many likeminded people as possible, with an important twist – you had to direct line to previously unobtainable people. Such people as Stephen Fry, Jason Bradbury, top journalists, Magazines and even our local author Peter James. As an early adopter I managed to gain a following quite quickly – much to the annoyance of my PR friend as she checked my followers list and was completely gobsmacked as I had overtaken her threefold in less than three months! Despite opening during one of the worst global recessions we have seen in recent years, the shop’s footfall was steady and the return client list showed an increase to the point where December 2011 has been FSDS’s best month of trading to date.
Twitter now seems like normal life to me – I can market my business and communicate with local organisations who keep me versed with all the issues I need to know as a community based business. I can also get up to date news on things like traffic accidents as they happen, news stories immediately, social events and network opportunities and if I am lucky I even get retweeted (a retweet is when somebody re-posts your tweet) an added bonus if by a customer, a respected business person or a celebrity! The most important thing about Twitter – is that is absolutely free of charge – something that doesn’t occur in business very often. Now many events are organised via Twitter. Last weekend, FSDS was at the Vintage Fair an event organised by Rottingdean’s own Elif Kose which I heard about and spread the word through Twitter, and this weekend FSDS will be at the Belles Vintage Wedding Fair at the Hove Centre http://www.hovecentre.co.uk again heavily marketed and organised via Twitter. I’m also thrilled to see the new business and partnerships coming into the village are using Twitter and of course Rottingdean itself has it’s very own Twitter feed.
“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.” Bill Gates.
As well as getting the word about my business out there, I also use twitter to keep current with many of my designers as it definitely helps build relationships and allows cross pollination of ideas, especially when many of the designers I stock are in different parts of the UK.
Twitter in my eyes has totally changed the way people share information – and while it doesn’t replace any other media which continue to be valuable, for FSDS in particular I find it helps me stay connected with my clients, my designers and my fellow business owners and keeps a very 2012 type of buzz around our historic village of Rottingdean.
FSDS is currently stocking 12 talented Silversmiths including Tina Lilienthal, Lucy Q, Rachel Galley, Molly Brown, Sheila Fleet, Collette Waudby, Gina Stewart Cox, Atelier Gilmar plus designer Scarves, Leather goods, scented Scottish candles – (Fork Handles), Fashion Jewellery, Vintage Jewellery by Rosie Fox, and glassware handmade in Cornwall. The FSDS website is a work in progress and is currently being updated with 300 new photos by photographer Steve Robinson.
See you on Twitter !