Jane Gokgoz, founder of Personalised Gifts Shop, tells Business Matters about taking control of her company.
What do you currently do?
I’m the owner of Personalised Gifts Shop, an online retailer that can personalise almost anything. I started the company in 2011, first selling personalised vases and frames, and now run it with my team of over 30 staff from a 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse. We’re growing fast, exceeding well over £4m annual sales.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
My children both have unusual names and I could never get them personal gifts! I also had a need to get busy. I had moved from London to Northamptonshire to raise the family but it was time for me to get back into working full time. Having previously worked in publishing and finance, I spent some time looking into e-commerce options and kept coming back to personalised gifts.
What defines your way of doing business?
Flexibility. We have over 14,000 products in our range and I am always looking into the next trends as they change so quickly. We’re also very efficient; with over 30 hi-tech machinery in our warehouse, we can turn around orders in 24 hours. Except at Christmas and other popular occasions – it’s a little busier then, so it’s 48 hours.
Who do you admire?
Anyone who has a go at something. I started my business with £5.50 – I bought the domain name and site hosting, got the website up and running and then off I went. I didn’t know the hard work ahead, but I had a go.
Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?
We originally had a third party product supplier but I realised that to have full control, I needed to get the products and produce everything in-house.
The changeover in 2015 meant a lot of extra time; I re-mortgaged the house, borrowed and redesigned literally everything; it was very stressful.
But it’s been worth it; we now source all the products ourselves and our team of in-house designers create the designs. It means we can be sure of our products’ quality and appeal. Taking the plunge meant that our turnover grew massively. I wish I took this decision earlier.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Research and plan everything thoroughly and be prepared to put in the hours. Once you’ve made your decision, sleep over it just to see if it still makes sense. I have put my all into this company and there have been some long nights, working till all hours! But the rewards can be great. Also, have management training. My previous role in finance meant managing a team but I still updated these skills, as a happy team is a busy team.