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Five tips from 23-year-old Elm owner, ahead of Start-Up day keynote speech

Paige Mitchell, who owns Elm in Lower Goat Lane. Picture:   Archant

Paige Mitchell, who owns Elm in Lower Goat Lane. Picture: Archant

Archant

Presenting a keynote speech to a room full of Norfolk’s brightest business leaders is a daunting task for any entrepreneur.

But even more so for 23-year-old Paige Mitchell, owner of Norwich’s Elm, who says although she’s “never done anything like this before” she has some valuable lessons to share with her community during her talk at today’s Millennium Library’s Business Start-Up Day.

Here, she talks us through her top five take away tips from her talk:

1. Do It Yourself

Paige’s shop on Lower Goat Lane is stacked with ceramics she has made herself, hand-crafted in a studio tucked in the eaves of the building.

Originally the founder’s plan was to sell her wares wholesale, but after outgrowing a previous unit in Dove Street, she decided to keep the formula that worked.

She said: “The fact that I make these items has really given us an edge. People love to come in and handle the products, but the assistants or I can talk them through every aspect of the product; how they were made, where they were sourced, and so on.”

2. Think big

Miss Mitchell said: “When we first started we had a smaller shop one street over, and we grew so much faster than I thought we would, and had to move to a bigger unit just to fit all of our stock in.

“I think it’s important not to think too small, or you won’t grow to the size you could be. Ever since we’ve moved to Lower Goat Lane and a bigger unit everything has doubled, our sales, footfall, everything.”

3. But spend small

Miss Mitchell said: “I like to think that I don’t take a lot of risks, which bigger corporations do. I buy a small amount of stock, and don’t put in a load of money to something when I don’t know if it’ll sell well.

“For me that’s worked really well, buying little bits and then putting in the big money when I need to.”

4. Know your aesthetic

Miss Mitchell, who grew up in Norwich, continued: “Instagram for us has been a major influence, and is where we do most of our advertising, through sponsored posts or boosted posts. We had a couple of text adverts but they didn’t work as well.

“For me I’ve always been visual anyway but I think for a customer being able to see something and relate to it, or have an idea of what it’ll look like, that’s going to help massively with selling any product.

“I think it varies between age ranges, and for me a lot of my customers are the younger generation who do use social media, so that’s the best way to target them.”

5. Learn how to say no

Miss Mitchell, who celebrates the one year anniversary of the brand next week, added: “When I first started out I didn’t have the confidence to say no, and not spend loads of advertising, and from there learn how to say no to people in general.

“I’m still learning how to do that, but that’s probably been the biggest lesson for me after our first year in business.”

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