Lauren Packham – Encore Adore
Many people join Outset’s start-up courses with a clear business idea. However, on closer examination they sometimes find their idea and skill set leads them to launch a completely different kind of business.
Lauren Packham, owner of bridal studio Encore Adore, experienced this turnaround when she joined Outset Plymouth’s Business Start Up course in 2012.
Lauren joined the course armed with a business idea that had nothing to do with weddings or retail. Her Outset advisor helped her understand how to find her place in the market, as well as the importance of catering to the area you live in.
Upon thoroughly researching the marketplace and testing her concept locally, Lauren realised that, although it might have worked in another location, it was unlikely to be successful in Plymouth.
“The sessions and group discussions gave me many extra things to think about which I may have otherwise overlooked,” she says. “Although I then abandoned my business plan, the course gave me the confidence of knowing that I could start my own business one day, once I came up with the right idea.”
It was a year later that the idea for Encore Adore struck. After getting married, having a baby and finding money was tight, she thought about selling her wedding dress.
“I then realized that, by selling unwanted wedding dresses, I could offer an important service to brides-to-be,” says Lauren. “Many women cannot justify spending over £1,000 on a wedding dress and many cannot afford to. By offering pre-loved and ex-sample wedding dresses at a discounted price, I could save customers 50% or more and present them with a gorgeous designer dress in fantastic condition, at a price cheaper than other retailers.”
Lauren admits to facing many challenges while setting up Encore Adore, but dismisses them easily, showing the importance of tackling problems as they arise and keeping a cool head at all times.
“It’s good to know that I can contact Outset for support if I need to. I have also been wanting to do the Outset Finance course – I should have done this before really as time is no longer on my side, but hopefully I will find the time.”
The studio currently employs one person, but Lauren is already thinking about taking on volunteers and perhaps an apprentice in the future. Expanding the business is very much in view but growth plans are being kept under wraps.
“I have a few tricks up my sleeve but I don’t want to tell anyone just yet!”