Women – In life, in business and in style!

My name is Rachel Hughes, I’m 29 years old and I own and manage Chelsea Doll, the online fashion jewellery store which is based just outside Cardiff.

How did you get to where you are today?
My background is very much business-oriented.  I knew from a young age that I wanted to run my own business.  I graduated from uni with a Business Studies degree and started my first business at the tender age of 20!  I’ve always had a ‘passion for fashion’, so merging the two was inevitable at some stage.

What made you start up Chelsea Doll?
Originally, as a co-owner of a computer-repair and web design business I was getting increasingly bored of mundane IT stuff so decided to take the plunge and start a business doing something I love and enjoy.  I think that’s half the battle in business – if you find something you like doing day in, day out, it makes it much easier to make a go of things.

How did you go about it?
I started with a detailed business plan (a must for any start-up), something which I knew I could go back to year after year to monitor my progress.  I did most of my research online and scouted around for suppliers of unique, quirky fashion jewellery.  I realised that there was a big enough gap in the market for an on-trend fashion jewellery website.  The planning phase took four months and the actual design of the website took about a month.  Once the website was up and running (after a lot of midnight oil burning!) it went from there really.

What challenges did you face & how did you overcome them?
In the beginning I faced a huge challenge in that, although I’d run a small business for the six years before, I had absolutely no experience in retail, and in particular, managing an online store. I’ve learnt the way of things as time has gone on but it’s been a very sharp learning curve! 

Buying was a huge bugbear – in the beginning I had a tendency to overspend, buying pieces that I liked without giving any thought to how popular they’d be on the website.  I had to get out of the mindset that ordering stock was not a personal shopping spree! Inventory-management was a bit of a nightmare to start with but we’ve recently installed a stock control program to take care of things. 

What do you love most about running your own business?
Ah, absolutely everything!  I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.  I know it’s a clich√© but I actually really love my job!  I’m a bit of a workaholic so the late nights slaving away on my laptop don’t put me off.  There is a huge responsibility involved with running your own business, after all the buck stops with me but I love being master of my own destiny and making decisions.  Another advantage is that if I’m having a really bad day I can retreat to my house and work at my own pace.

How do you achieve work/life balance?
I have to admit defeat here and say that it’s something I haven’t really mastered.  I tend to blur the lines A LOT.  I’m constantly on my phone and whether I’m out with friends or at home watching television I always know what’s going on within the business, which makes it very difficult to switch off and forget about work.  I think I’m starting to make progress though – I am learning to allocate start and finish times for the day and block time out for myself.

What’s your favourite thing to do to relax from work?
Probably go out for dinner and drinks with family and friends (preferably with lots of cocktails!).  I really enjoy going away with my husband but don’t do it as often as I’d like.

Where is your favourite location to shop?
My go-to shop is definitely Topshop, especially if I’m looking for a complete outfit (excluding accessories, of course!).  I love discovering new, smaller online boutiques for unique pieces.  I’ve recently come across 18 and East, Lavish Alice and Yayer.

If you had to pick one item from Chelsea Doll this season, which one would it be?
I’m a little in love with the Kai Neon Choker Necklace, although I haven’t had chance to wear it yet.  It’s VERY bright and 1990s-inspired so it needs to be worn with the right outfit!  

Click here to view on Chelsea Doll site

What three things could you not live without?

  1. The first one is easy, my Blackberry – I’m not sure how long I’d last without it! 
  2. Max Factor Colour Adapt Foundation – I probably have the worst skin imaginable so count this as one of my best friends!
  3. Diet Coke – A naughty one as I probably drink way too much of it, but Diet Coke is always my drink of choice.

What to know more?
Website – http://www.chelseadoll.co.uk
Twitter – http://twitter.com/rachelmhughes or http://twitter.com/ChelseaDollx
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/chelseadollboutique

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