Winning Website by a Woman with Ambition
Thursday, 14 May 2015 | Admin
Gifts From Handpicked has long been recognised as a website which delivers excellent and unique products at a reasonable price in a timely fashion. And you don’t need to take our word for it – our work is being recognised again in our nomination for another award.
Over the course of our seven-years of trading, our profile has grown considerably. Our products have found exposure in both the printed media and on television and we’ve also been recognised with awards. In 2013 we were grateful recipients of a Mumtrepeneur award – an award designed to honour those who juggle both a family and a growing business. Now, two years later, we find ourselves invited to another glitzy ceremony, this time at The Greats Retail Awards in London.
The Greats have been running for thirteen years, with the purpose of recognising ‘the top independent and multiple gift retailers regionally and nationally’. It is with great pride that we therefore find ourselves placed in the category of ‘Best Online Retailer and/or Mail Order Gift Retailer’, alongside a clutch of other successful businesses.
As we get ready to dress up and don our posh frocks and lounge suits, it’s worth reflecting on exactly how we arrived at this point. The journey has been fun – but it hasn’t always been easy. It’s often said that problems are just opportunities in disguise – though it must also be said that these disguises are often extremely convincing. When Natalie Yates – our founder – was made redundant following her maternity leave, she decided to use the extra spare time to work on her website, selling gifts.
The business had, until that point, focussed largely on off-line marketing. In those early stages, Natalie visited a succession of trade shows and country fairs, selling and buying gifts. But it was only when the business switched its focus onto the website that things really took off. Since then, the website has moved from strength to strength and its success has been recognised by our customers and by award nominations too.
How have we achieved this then? Well, our approach is remarkably simple. We’ve done our best to assemble a varied range of homeware items from a number of different designers. We select only the most gift-worthy and ensure that browsing them is as painless as possible.
We take pride in our product range and take a great deal of care in selecting them too. We understand that gifts are tricky things to buy. Different people enjoy different things, after all; sometimes sorting the exciting from the mundane is a challenge. If you’ve ever spent Christmas Eve in a shopping centre, frantically power-walking from shop to shop in search of some worthwhile item, then you’ll know what we mean. Take a few moments to browse our wares and we’re confident you’ll find something that catches your eye and thereby spare your intended recipient the ironing-board cover you might have otherwise stumbled onto.
When we’re asked how to describe our range, the word that we often reach for is ‘quirky’. Our range of products encompasses the unusual, the bizarre and the exciting. Things that you won’t find anywhere else.
It’s not often that you get to shop for something quirky. If you were to take a seat at a restaurant whose food had been described to you as ‘quirky’, you would probably be a little uneasy about the prospect of eating it. In electricians, plasterers and plumbers, ‘quirkiness’ is rarely desirable. ‘Quirky’ driving, meanwhile, is likely to get you banned.
Our industry is a glorious exception to this rule. In a gift, quirkiness is a cardinal virtue. A successful gift is one which surprises and excites – one which makes the recipient’s face light up. We therefore do away with the merely functional in favour of the eye-catching and the safe in favour of the bold. Our standards are exacting and ensure that all of the gifts we stock are a step above that which you’d find on the high street. If you want proof of this, you need only take a look!
Ours is a small business and so we are hugely excited, not only at the chance to dress up and rub shoulders with the industry giants, but also to see our efforts recognised. The road here has been winding and occasionally bumpy – but it’s been intensely rewarding. We look forward to many more successful years and the opportunity to bring our customers many more of the quirky and beautiful things that we love so much!
We didn’t win our category ‘Best Online Retailer and/or Mail Order Gift Retailer’ – the accolade went to Cilftons Jewellery but we had a fab night mixing with some of the giants from our industry. What we take away from an event like this is a massive boost that tells us we are serving our customers to the best of our abilities and offering something pretty special given our size. We will continue to grow and challenge others for these kinds of awards because that is what happens when you stay passionate and customer focused.