Tell us about your company?
Elegant Steps is the UK’s leading retailer of wedding and occasion shoes. I run this business alongside my husband John. We’ve grown out in the past decade from a local business operating from my house to a small village shop then an international company with a large warehouse shipping all over the world. We pride ourselves on not only offering shoes for every budget but also every size – we want every woman to have that moment where she finds the perfect shoes! As our business has grown, so too has our team – we have a dedicated staff in our warehouse, offices and colour studio as well as experts on hand at our Wirral based shop.
Where do you want the business to be in two years?
Honestly, Elegant Steps is going from strength to strength. In two years time, I expect we’ll have made even more progress! We’re in the process of launching a partnership scheme with other businesses in the wedding and events industry right now, so in two years time brides-to-be and other customers should be facing a much more seamless shopping experience.
What is your background?
My introduction to this trade was through personal experience. After 17 years spent working for the young persons’ advisory service Connexions, my own wedding brought the inspiration to create Elegant Steps. As a shoe size 10, my choice of shoes was almost nonexistent; I had to import my shoes. It wasn’t a cheap option at all. There was absolutely a gap in the market for brides seeking beautiful shoes in the UK – and here I am now more than a decade on!
If you could suggest one thing to Government to help business growth what would it be?
I think there needs to be more done to promote the benefits of apprenticeships to young people. My work with Connexions impressed upon me the importance of presenting young people with options when it comes to their futures – and apprenticeships are fantastic gateways to the world of business. Here at Elegant Steps we’ve had a number of apprentices – several of whom are now in management positions.
What do you do to relax away from the office?
I’m a family person. My six year old son Simon definitely keeps me busy when I’m not at work – though I’m not so sure how relaxing parenthood is! For the first six years of the business’ existence, I didn’t take time off or holidays at all. It was exhausting, but I wanted to give it my all. It’s amazing now to be able to take a step back when necessary and see the company booming.
What hobbies do you have?
I’m definitely a social butterfly! I really like to have an action-packed social events calendar, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the type to settle into a repetitive routine. Trips to the races, charity events, awards, networking, work with my son’s school – I’ve always got something on if I’m not at work, and that’s exactly how I like it.
Have you any hidden talents that we don’t know about?
I’m not sure about hidden talents but I definitely think I can belt ‘River Deep Mountain High’ out in the shower, good job I have sympathetic neighbours! Joking aside though, I pride myself in being a calm personality and a natural problem solver. I’m also an eternal optimist and find it difficult to have negative thoughts, I’m a glass full to the brim kind of person and believe good will come from every adverse situation and that we grow from our mistakes and weaknesses, so embrace them. I also feel confidence and a smile is always the answer to everything (or at the very least the appearance of confidence…but shhh don’t tell...).
For the first six years of the business’ existence, I didn’t take time off or holidays at all. It was exhausting, but I wanted to give it my all. It’s amazing now to be able to take a step back when necessary and see the company booming.
What one piece of advice would you give an 18 years old Jayne starting out today?
I’d tell an 18 year old me how important it is to treat every setback as a learning experience. Mistakes are more than natural – they’re absolutely necessary. Is it an unpleasant experience to have your fingers burned? Sure it is, but it means that I never make the same mistake twice. Nothing comes easily in business – it’s a lot of hard work, but the results can be amazing!
Any final thoughts?
If you’re interested in finding out more about our Referral Scheme and becoming one of Elegant Partners please get in touch via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our website www.elegantsteps.co.uk for more information on our products and services.