Case Study: Cara Frances, Stripey Finds
Cara Franses and her Digital Adventure! – Stripey Finds
Cara Franses set up her business, Stripey Finds, towards the end of 2014 and has come a long way in a very short time.
Stripey Finds is a wedding and party design consultancy and shop. The company sells a fantastic range of products ranging from confetti and balloons to favours and ready filled party bags and also makes bespoke products. Cara also offers a wedding and party consultancy service to help clients to transform their ideas into a brilliantly themed event including weddings, birthdays, and retirement. She sources or makes everything they need to turn it into a very special occasion and dresses the venue so that it looks spectacular.
Before starting her business, Cara worked as a Human Resources Manager for a property development company. When she had to make herself and most of her staff redundant it proved to be the catalyst that helped Cara to return to a more creative role.
“I always loved making things and being creative. I had my first sewing machine at 9 years old and went on to do a BA(hons) in Textile Design. I had also organised many events in a commercial environment and friend’s weddings and themed parties. So helping people to create the event of their dreams is also my dream come true”.
But bringing the dream to life was quite a challenge.
“It is a scary thing to start a business. Trying to define exactly what you want to do is the first hurdle, but this changes as the business grows and develops. There was so much to take into consideration, I felt like a rabbit in the headlights at times. You think you have a hold on all the different aspects then turn a corner and find several more things that need to be addressed and you haven’t the faintest idea how to tackle them”.
With an on-line business model, technology was always going to play an important role in setting up the business but, as Cara admits, she had quite a journey before she got the technology side right.
“When I embarked on this my digital knowledge was almost zero, I knew how to send emails and how to use word and excel but didn’t even have a private Facebook page and had no idea what social media was or how to build a website. It all seemed very scary.”
As the business was internet based Cara knew she needed a web site but getting that set up wasn’t as simple as she’d hoped.
“My business was going to be an internet based shop so a website was essential. I created a Word document showing how I wanted my website to look and the text and a friend was going to build it for me but she had a personal crisis and I had a room full of stock and no way to sell it. It was the best thing that could have ever happened. I had to just get on and find a solution. I researched platforms to build my own website and got started. I found Weebly the easiest to use and it had lots of video tutorials to help.”
With a web site now up and running, was it all plain sailing from there on in?
“No, now I had a website but no one knew about it. This is where my digital story really began. I was still finding all things digital a bit scary, but going to the Dorset Business Women Go Digital sessions changed all that. They gave me a step by step understanding to increase my technology knowledge. When we meet, we all know everything discussed is confidential, no question is silly, it’s a safe environment. These sessions have given me a massive base of knowledge to springboard my business forward alerting me to some of the unseen dangers along the way. My business has grown and flourished as I can now market it effectively using social media.”
Having overcome those early challenges, Cara has gone from strength to strength with more exciting things planned for 2016.
“I have 26 new products lined up to roll out through the first half of the year and more at design stage. There is a very exciting new machine arriving in the Studio this year which will enable me to produce some fantastic bespoke products. I’m delighted to say that I will be taking on staff this year and I will be launching international sales.”
So has Cara now completed her digital journey?
“Not at all, there are always new things to explore, the digital landscape is changing all the time. I have recently started using Instagram and would like to develop my knowledge of this as it is one of the leading social media platforms. I would like to develop my blogging skills too. Search Engine Optimisation is also an area which I would like to develop.”
So the journey continues!
Take a look at Cara’s web site to see what a fantastic job she has done in creating and managing it herself www.stripeyfinds.com