South Tyneside Business Woman Launches New Retail Business
A South Tyneside business woman is blazing a trail in the retail sector with the launch of a new outlet in Jarrow specifically designed to cater for the needs of disabled people.
Steph Martin (29) from Pelaw opened Pretty Ambitions on Grange Road as her first retail business, with help and guidance from the team at TEDCO Business Support.
The new business sells a range of bath cosmetics including speciality bath bombs along with pampering and wellness items such as salt lamps, candles and wax melts. The product range is split between individually crafted items created by Steph and items sourced from selected suppliers all over the UK.
Steph comments: “I have always wanted my own retail unit to sell my range of products and bath cosmetics but various setbacks led to delays in finding the right premises that would suit the kind of business I wanted to run.
“One of my main drivers within the business space has always been to create a friendly and accessible environment for disabled shoppers looking to move and shop with ease. Being a wheelchair user myself I have first-hand experience of the difficulties facing disabled people on a daily basis when trying to access shops – particularly in town centre environments.
“Pretty Ambitions is exactly what it says on the shop front. An ambitious business aimed at creating a supportive shopping environment. Even just simple changes can make the biggest difference and we have widened the doorway and designed the shop to support movement in a wheelchair while still being able to look at all items available to purchase.
“I can only hope that the example we have set will be followed by other retailers when they assess the changes they can make to support their many disabled customers when accessing shops.”
The business launch was self-financed by Steph with the next objective to develop an online presence and sell her hand-crafted and specially sourced products to a wider audience. For now, Steph has taken on two members of staff with a view to expanding her workforce as and when the business demands it.
Steph comments: “The environment for traditional retailers is undeniably tough at present but we have a loyal customer base already who frequent the shop to purchase the products which are unique to Pretty Ambitions. I have been pleasantly surprised by the strong footfall and sales since we opened our doors.
“We have been helped in every area of opening the business by TEDCO and my business advisor, Bill Hartshorne. His advice really has been invaluable in making my dream of business ownership come true.”
Steph Martin received support as part of a project by the European Regional Development Fund to support new enterprise in the North East.
Bill Hartshorne, TEDCO Business Support advisor said: “Steph is a driven and ambitious young woman with an understanding of how to use her own experiences to improve the retail experience for her customers. During our many discussions, it became clear that Steph wanted to create a retail outlet that could offer something different but could also help other retailers understand the value of considering the needs of disabled shoppers when it comes to shop design and accessibility. Steph has been great to work alongside when launching Pretty Ambitions and I look forward to continuing our working relationship as the business progresses.”
For more information on TEDCO Business Support, please visit www.tedco.org.