Tina Iacovelli Accessories is a Worcestershire based retailer of costume jewellery, quality leather handbags, scarves, cashmere ponchos & luxury shawls. Gift Shop Hub spoke to Tina about her luxury ladies accessories and new shop.
How did you start out?
I started my business 12 years ago and for want of anything better to call it, I used my name as I am Italian, and my frequent trips to Italy are what gave rise to my business idea. Every time I returned from a trip, I would be asked where I had bought my handbags, clothes and scarves, and friends would often ask me to get the same for them on my next visit….. and so Tina Iacovelli Accessories LTD was born!
I was too nervous to get a shop, so I started doing party plan. I asked four of my friends, who lived in different areas to host parties for me, and within 6 months, I was doing 2 per week. I would take a range of Italian leather handbags, scarves, jewellery and clothing and set up a pop up shop in ladies homes, so they could try things on, experiment, ask their friends’ advice and have a glass of Prosecco all at the same time! Whats not to love??
What products do you sell in your shop?
More recently, I opened a shop in Bransford near Malvern, where I display all of my wares but in addition, my partner Jan and I upcycle old furniture and trawl around flea markets to find interesting vintage homeware and gift items. We also sell greetings cards, soft furnishings and novelty gifts.
The shop is set at The Fold, a lovely old farm complex with a farm shop, natural thereapy centre, nature trails and other shops and artists studios.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing small business at the moment
The main challenges we face as small businesses are high rents, and fierce competition from multiple retailers and internet suppliers. Since my shop is off the beaten track, the rent is reasonable but we don’t get much passing trade so it is a constant battle driving customers to our door, through use of social media and word of mouth.
What sets us apart, as independent small businesses however, is our customer service, which is sadly lacking on the high street, and our ability to offer items which are not mass produced and often hand crafted.
I find offering small discounts to loyal customers, and giving them incentives to bring their friends helps build sales. I often take part in local charity events too as this enables me to reach out to new customers and raise awareness about the shop. I use Instagram to help sell furniture as I need the customers for the larger pieces to be able to collect them.
What makes you stand out from the crowd?
What makes us stand out from the crowd I believe, is offering a unique blend of contemporary gifts and vintage finds, and hand crafted locally sourced items. I feel there is a real thirst out there for good old fashioned customer service and items which are not widely available elsewhere. Sourcing clothing from Italy also gives me USP and keeps customers coming back.
How important is social media in promoting your business?
I recognise the importance of social media in both driving new customers to the shop and increasing sales. Until recently I haven’t really explored the possibilities fully as I am technologically challenged!! It is my aim to make better use of these invaluable platforms.
What has been your most successful promotion/marketing idea?
The most successful promotion I have held was to have a Christmas shopping evening at the shop, which was marketed through social media. We had carol singers, mulled wine, dancing in the courtyard and story telling for the children. It was magical!
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to significantly build online sales through my eBay shop and maximise use of social media to increase sales through the shop.
Quick fire questions:
Favourite film: My favourite film is Laa Laa Land. A good old fashioned musical guaranteed to give you the feel good factor.
Favourite animal: My favourite animal is the cat. I adore my own long haired, fat grumpy grey and white fur ball, Snoot.
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Buy Tina Iacovelli’s products at: stores.ebay.co.uk/tinaiacovellibagsaccessories