It is quite incredible to think that this time last year I was still interning for lingerie companies.  Sometimes when I am going through a bit of a tough time financially it is hard to see my successes.  But 2011 has been a year that I have actually achieved a few things, despite my reluctance to acknowledge my success.  So in true bloggers style I am looking back at what I got up to this year.
January – Mid March
Like I say, this time last year I was interning at several Lingerie companies in my desperate bid to join the rat race and actually be paid for my skills.  I truly loved interning as I became a “Professional Intern” and the companies I worked for were nothing but kind and lovely to me.  Some people have horror stories about companies treating them like slave labour and you have to sell your soul to the devil for little or no reward – but it looks excellent on your C.V (note my sarcasm).  But I had a brilliant time interning and didn’t experience any of the nastiness out there.   I felt very grown up joining the commuters on their journey to London and reading the Metro.  Even though I loved the companies I worked for and learnt a fair deal whilst there, it was still incredibly frustrating and demeaning that no one out there would pay me.
I literally woke up on a Sunday morning (I remember the exact date!) and decided enough was enough and that only I could make my own future – relying on others was not an option.  It was like a light bulb had turned on in my head and I had had the realisation that in life, if you want something badly enough, you have to make your own destiny.  And so Betty Blue’s Loungerie was dreamt up.
I was due to go on Holiday at the end of March/beginning of April so it seemed natural to break with my interning and start off on my own when I came back from holiday.  (Enter lots of brainstorming and sleepless nights, in a good way, as I was all excited and had loads and loads of ideas!)
April – end of August
When I came back from holiday I decided that my grand unveiling as a brand would be at the Goodwood Revival in Chichester.  The perfect platform and audience to launch my brand and get my name out there!  I was certainly setting myself a big challenge, although I was blissfully unaware of the magnitude of that challenge at the time!!  I had products to design, fabric to source, patterns to cut, swing tags to print, a website to get up and running, a logo to design, labels to have made, press releases to write, factories to source and liaise with, money to magic up, packaging to organise, blogs to get up and running, models to find, photographers to find for the photoshoot, MUA’s to find………I’m sure there was lots else as well but I can’t remember in the haze of productiveness!  All in time for my brand launch in mid September.
I also had the good fortune of happening upon a wonderful group of ladies who have now become my friends and lifeline.   I joined the group Wonderful Women – Minding Our Own Business or #wwmoob if you will. 
Just one of our various fun filled meetings
What won me over was that the premise that being self employed doesn’t have to be as isolating as one might think.  The reason that I had not started my business long before April 2011 was that I am 23 and I didn’t want to become housebound and isolated because I have a business to run.  I wanted to experience life without all the complications and worries of a business not to mention the financial strain.  But through #wwmoob meetings I have come to realise that I shouldn’t have worried about these things – and in hindsight these things haven’t actually bothered me so far in my business’ journey.  Silly me!!  The group has been excellent in the way that it has made me think about my future and what I want in life.   I set up my business quickly and impulsively to sort out my problem of a lack of a job; why make no money working for others making money from my skills, when I can make no money working for myself in the hopes that I one day can reap the rewards!  Anyway I didn’t think about the end goal when starting up and #wwmoob has made me think about the bigger picture.  They have helped me to set goals and to dream bigger than I would have thought about on my own.  The only thing holding me back in life is myself.
Well September rolled around quickly!  My stock skidded in by the skin of its teeth (Literally the morning Goodwood opened its gates the package from my factory with my stock was couriered in.  Then followed a few hours of frantically sewing on buttons and checking that each garment was as should be………many swear words were uttered in the days before and it has been the one time I actually felt stressed).
The weekend went swimmingly and it was lovely to hear all the feedback from strangers and passers by.  It is much more exciting to hear positive things from strangers rather than family and friends who feel obliged to congratulate me.  It was very exciting that people actually wanted to buy my products, as they feel like children to me.  Here are a few pictures of my personal highlights of Goodwood.
Me toasting the Launch!  Rather badly posed as my head is in shadow!
Tigzy and Miss Honey Bare setting up camp, isn’t her head torch awesome!!
My friend Alex and myself in our Siren Suits all snugly as the weather turned nasty
Tigzy enjoying her new Vivienne of Holloway dress 🙂
Alice and I enjoying the sun in true “Glamping” style
After the highs of September, October was a tricky month for me.  I had really run myself down health wise.  I also hadn’t really prepared myself all that well for the next step.  I had been gearing myself up for Goodwood and now that it had been and gone it was a little bit like “well what do I do next?!”.  #wwmoob meetings were invaluable in their advice and support and helped me to come to the conclusion of what I should do next for my business.  Basically just keep going!!  Keep designing new must have products that are different and exciting, and keep striving for world domination!  So I devised a new product that is practical and pretty.  The Marilyn Rain Bonnet
With the success of Goodwood, I was also able to order more stock in higher numbers and this meant that I could lower my retail prices a little.  Now that I had a name out there albeit small, and a customer base I had more of an idea of how much to order and which sizes were most popular.  Basically the more you make the cheaper it becomes.  I want Betty Blue’s Loungerie to be affordable to most people so this was exciting for me to be able to pass on my savings.
November was a brand expanding month for me.  I visited the Start Up Britain Exhibition at Earls Court.  As I have said before my brand was set up in haste with a whirlwind of enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm however doesn’t expand a brand and make it a household name – it certainly helps but doesn’t give you business skills.  So in an attempt to grow my business and build upon my little success I have gone back to the beginning to learn about how to optimise my business.  The exhibition itself was a little dry unless you were there for a specific reason.  I was there to learn all about how to create a public profile for my brand so I listened in to lots of talks and seminars.  There were some great speakers there sharing how they got to where they are.  And guess what people, the secret is…………HARD WORK.  Quel surprise!  Sorry there are no short cuts.  But I also learnt heaps more that I couldn’t possibly impart to you – you will just have to go to the next Start Up Britain and learn yourself!  I bought a few books at this event and have read them with much intrigue over the last few weeks.  I feel all knowledgeable now and hopefully the hints and tips in these books will help me to grow my business, fingers crossed.  But I suppose what I really learnt from this exhibition is that anyone can start a business if they have the right attitude.  I had absolutely no business background whatsoever, but I have managed to start my own brand in a relatively short time and achieve a little success along the way.  So if you have an idea that is unique and you have the right oomph to make that idea an actuality, go for it!
December has been a busy old month for me.  Also in terms of sales it has been one of my best months, yay for Christmas!  I started the month with much excitement.  I signed up to win a “key” to the Cointreau Prive club.  An exclusive London night club with interiors adorned by personal items from Dita Von Teeses’ collection of costumes.  I never expected to win one of the 50 keys they were handing out, but I only went and won one!!  I never win anything so it was doubly as exciting for me.  It coincided with the Benefit Beauty Xmas Bazaar, which I had a stall at, so along I went with ReeRee Rockette and Pip Jolley.  Pip also had a stall at the Xmas Bazaar and we both enjoyed meeting lots of people who could have their make-up done as well as peruse our various wares.  Then onto the club!  It was beautifully decorated and the cocktails were scrummy.  Dita herself was there that night, but unfortunately we missed her as she was in the swanky restaurant and we were in the downstairs bar/club area.
Here is a rather bedraggled photo of me (I had lugged my heavy suitcase full of stock for the Benefit doo around London so was feeling a bit hot and bothered!) and the beautiful ReeRee Rockette.
December also saw the launch of the much anticipated Nell Robe, and didn’t she do well!!
This little baby has been my bestseller to date.  I had a rush of sales of this just before Christmas, so much so in fact that the Smalls are in their last few so if you are a size Small and want to own this beauty, don’t delay as they are nearly out of stock!!  I think it must be the festive red…….or maybe the sheer sexiness of this robe (which also makes it perfect for Valentine’s Day).  Nevertheless it has helped to end my year on a high.  And I am hoping that 2012 will bring even more fun, frolics and success; even in the face of economic doom.  I am however staying positive and keeping on making my future the future I want it to be!
I hope you all have a wonderful New Years Eve and thanks to everyone who has joined me on my journey so far.  Here’s to 2012!
Betty xx