Startups are regenerating high streets and communities, and we're thrilled to be part of it - helping new shops such as the high-end Betty Leigh Boutique, in Redcar, start up and thrive. Founded by Vicky Smee, the boutique is our StartUp of the Week - let's find out more.

1. Explain your business in thirty seconds or less

The business is an independent womenswear boutique. Betty Leigh Boutique is a stockist of hard to find brands and labels. The boutique offers a first-class retail experience with the addition of an attentive personal stylist and shopper. The unique selling point is offering brands, labels and independent designers that are highly sought-after and of a limited availability in a luxurious and welcoming environment.

2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?

My business is based in Redcar Town centre. The location is good for my business as it has excellent transport links and free parking close by. The boutique is also situated near a tourist attraction Redcar Beacon and local landmark Redcar Town Clock. There is a high population of my target market audience within Redcar and Cleveland borough, and currently Betty Leigh Boutique is the only Redcar Boutique that offers the unique selling point of brands, labels and independent designers. Redcar is my home town and my market research highlighted that there was a substantial amount of people who wished to shop in Redcar and support independent businesses.

3. How did you come up with the idea?

I have worked in the retail sector for 8 years in total and have also worked within the fashion industry and as an independent retail manager as part of that career. I came up with the idea using my own shopping experiences, listening to family and friends retail experiences and how they felt as a consumer and the realisation Redcar really was lacking the luxury shopping experience us females hoped for.

4. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start-Up Loan?

My business was at the vision and planning stage, and I had done a significant amount of research.

Betty Leigh Boutique

5. How have you used it to grow your business?

The loan was used to help with branding, advertising, the shop fit, décor, signage, shop security, stock, mannequins, and the general initial running of the business.

6. Who has helped you get a Start Up Loan?

Mark Johnston is my TEDCO Business Support mentor. He and Ainsley Mullen from Redcar and Cleveland Council have both been fantastic, offering help and support whilst finalising my application making me aware of useful training and workshops and being on hand to offer motivating advice. Mark reviewed my business plan and the financial sustainability of the business.

7. Biggest achievement so far?

Successfully launching the business with an opening weekend, and recently styling customers to attend events such as Aintree Races in Betty Leigh Boutique outfits!

8. What’s next for your business?

To maintain and continue to build a bigger brand name for Betty Leigh Boutique and to use this to reach an audience even further afield.

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