How Our Support Local Initiative Began
On March 19th, I decided I wanted to help our local community amidst the news that we were heading into lockdown. I joined local volunteer groups, put leaflets through doors with my details on for those in isolation to call upon me if they needed help with shopping or any other tasks that might require being outside.
I quickly realised though that there was more I could do. I could help local stores transition from selling traditionally from their store fronts, to selling via delivery, aware that many local small independent shops may have never had to consider this previously. I began making some calls in my local area to find out if stores would consider moving to deliveries, either via online eCommerce or from consumers having the option to call their store and have the goods delivered directly.
As I discovered a growing call for this help I created the Facebook Group Support Local: Independent Shops delivering in Brighton and Hove and a community was born!
Just four weeks later the group now has over five and a half thousand members. Furthermore, local web developer Chris Boakes transformed our directory of business listings, currently advertising 300 businesses, into our website Brighton Quarantine. The website has had over 20,000 hits and continues to provide support to both the businesses looking to reach their market, and to the consumers needing their products and services.
In this series, I'll be interviewing participating businesses, here I'm with Elif Köse, of Elif Köse Boutique.
Please tell us about your business and what you offer?
Elif Köse is a childhood dream of becoming a brand that I created almost 11 years ago. A dream of designing clothes for the women of any age and any shape to give them the confidence they need through their outfits at any occasions. After all our look tells so much about us. Fashion is the most empowering tool to show our personality and beliefs, its a way to connect with people around us. And I love helping my clients to find their voice through their outfits. You will find seasonal ready to wear clothing and accessories in my boutique. If you are looking for a timeless collection of elegant quality clothing and one-off statement jewellery look no further. I pride myself curating high-quality designer pieces and jewellery to complement my own ready to wear collection. I also offer a bespoke dressmaking service for those who are looking for something extra special.
How long have you been based in Brighton?
I have been living here for almost 13 years and my business is coming up to 11 years. I love Brighton and I am forever grateful for the opportunities and acceptance I received here. For that reason, I am a devoted Brightonian and I do as much as I can for my community and this beautiful city.
What challenges has your business faced since we went into lockdown?
My business is all about engaging and interacting with my clients and certainly involves a lot of hugs and coffee chats and I am missing all this but I don't want to allow this to stop me connecting with my ladies. I keep them informed via email and my social media. Keeping a weekly live fashion show from my boutique and I have given 50% off of everything to everyone to cheer them up.
Would you say that the Support Local Facebook group and Brighton Quarantine website have been a help to your business?
The Facebook group has shown a community come together in adversity and really support each other and I've seen interest in my boutique grow since posting in it. I can see where my traffic is coming from on my Shopify Website and I certainly had a lot of the drive from BrightonQuarantine.com
What advice would you give to anyone who is struggling right now?
I know many of us struggling both financially and emotionally. The most important thing I learnt in life that asking for help and guidance and sharing your story isn't a weakness it is empowerment and I have been helped and supported by many people on my journey and I am here to help others who are determined to make a positive change in the world and helping others without a measure.
Start a crowdfunding page where people can buy your service for a further date to use or your products. If you are pub for instance, ask them to open a tap and buy a drink for themselves however often they were coming so they can use it when its back to normal. Or if you are a restaurant and hoping to get your customers to continue buying your takeaway food make it 25% cheaper than your normal menu price, offer free drinks if you are keeping it same price, boutiques like me should offer discount and free delivery locally and maybe over a certain spending budget. Just focus on what you can do with all that you have then what you would be doing now. I promise you will get very creative. I know so many Business to business service provider friends changed their offerings to direct customers overnight. don't waste too much time on social media and don't read everything people share. Follow positive people.
What happy song makes you dance in your kitchen?!
The Git Up by Blanco has been my favourite for such a long time. It makes me dance when ever I hear it.
Anything further you'd like to tell us?
If you want to buy new season clothes and treat yourself during the lock down get on to my website www.elifkose.co.uk
I am also offering free sewing lessons and tips on my FB group Unleashing the Power Of Women Through Fashion every Tuesday. Come and have fun. Being creative is very therapeutic.
Get in touch
Be sure to visit the website and take advantage now of a huge 50% discount off everything. If you would like to be interviewed for our Support Local series, email firstname.lastname@example.org