How would you describe your business/brand?
I sell a thoughtfully curated collection of antique, vintage, and retro brooches from 1880 to 1990 both online and at exclusive markets in London, under the trading name Audra’s Brooches I chose a sprig of thyme brooch as my logo as it symbolises activity, courage, strength, happiness, energy, and attraction, reflecting my own personal values and the energy I am putting into this enterprise. In addition, thyme has represented style and elegance for centuries.
What inspired you to set it up?
I have always collected, worn, and loved brooches. Brooches are a quick fix turning an everyday outfit into a fashionable talking piece. I worked in fashion, marketing, sales, and eventually became a teacher. After setting up a successful Media Studies department I was ready for a new challenge and wanted to use the skills and experience I had gained in my thirty years of employment to create my own business.
What has been the most challenging part of building your business/brand?
It can be lonely working independently so it is important to build solid, reciprocal working relationships with other entrepreneurs. I am lucky to have met and worked with many new and experienced businesswomen. Their guidance and support boost my own confidence and knowledge. In turn, I share my business journey with others my role as a Female Founders Ambassador speaking at seminars and events to encourage and inspire other women starting businesses.
What do you enjoy about your work most?
My favourite part of my work is meeting people and talking about brooches, whether I am buying or selling. I love learning about the history of jewellery and sharing that with others. Each generation chooses and wears these signifiers in a new way; drawing attention to their status, values, and beliefs. I am interested in how and why people wear brooches.
What are you most proud of?
At the moment, my greatest achievement is keeping my business afloat during the pandemic. I have moved completely online where previously I sold my brooches weekly at markets, fairs, and pop up events in London. I have tried to ensure my customers can still receive the same level of service they enjoyed in person in a virtual setting. I continue to share my knowledge and experience with others. At present, I coach some of the vintage and antique dealers I buy from how to use social media to sell their products. They have decades of experience trading at auctions, markets, and fairs but are very new to selling from their phones.
What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
My advice is always the same - Research. Research. Research.
Equip yourself with as much detail about and surrounding your business idea to ensure you are prepared. Find the resources and learn the skills you need to develop, market, promote, and advertise your business.
What is your self-care ritual?
I have always looked after my skin. Each evening and every morning when I cleanse and moisturise is time just for me. I always finish my shower with a cold rinse, even in winter. I find it energising.
Why Elan Skincare?
I decided that I no longer wanted to spend my money on products manufactured by huge corporations. I began to investigate smaller female-owned skincare and makeup companies. I was fortunate to meet Joanna and try her serums. My skin has never looked or felt better. I really like knowing what is in the products I use and who makes them for me.