Ethnic Supplies: Growing a business during a recession and news update

posted in: Women in Business 0

Times are currently tough for most and here at Ethnic Supplies Ltd we have felt a little vulnerable since our products can be seen as “little luxuries that we cannot afford” by would be customers. We have certainly heard the words “let me go away and think about it” time and time and again.

On the other hand the uniqueness or our products and work have worked in our favour. We have seen an increase in people looking for that unusual Christmas present/gift for there loved ones. The fact that people want to contribute to good causes but also get something for their hard earned money has worked in our favour.

One of the things we have worked very hard on here at Ethnic Supplies has been increasing our visibility. We believe that this is very important during the current financial times and this is how we have gone about it

Press Releases: We have got to know our local news reporters and shared our story and news with them and in return they gave us free coverage in their columns throughout the summer and the autumn. This coverage was worth thousands of pounds and as a small social enterprise we could not afforded in it without getting into debt.

As a result of we were found by a school in Glasgow that has asked us to supply Fair Trade clothes and fashion accessories for their fair-trade week in March. This is very exciting because the children are designing the clothes themselves and own producers will have the task of reproducing these designs. We have been given a slot to give a presentation about our wok on the day of the show.


Volunteering our time: we have been invited to share the story behind our work with a few local groups, including the Women’s Institute and our Local Business Link, as a consequence of this both these Institutions have become advocates of our work as well as pointed us towards others that may either be interested in what we do or may buy our products.

On Wednesday 29 October 2008 Business Link Surrey hosted a Prowess UK Women’s Enterprise Study Visit.

The aim of this study visit was for the working party to see the type and range of business support offered to UK women entrepreneurs and to meet real business women telling their story on the trails and tribulations of starting and growing a successful business. Ida was invited a speaker at this event.


At the event a delegate from Turkey was so impressed by our business idea that she expressed an interest in inviting us to Turkey to see what they can learn from us. Erika Watson Chief Executive of Prowess had an interesting idea that we could develop, we have since bee in touch with her and talks are under way as to the way forward.

The delegates from the US have since ordered some of our products, following the event.

On 18 Nov 2008 we were back volunteering our time at the Business Link Surrey’s road shows called WHAT IS STOPPING YOU these aimed at women wanting to get into business; again I was a panellist sharing the ups and downs in setting up Ethnic Supplies and the support that was available.

We were given a an exhibition stand worth £500 to show case our products and we picked two new  customers who are in the process of setting up shops and were looking for unique items to stock their shop.

Sales Events: we have taken full advantage of these and this time of the year there are so many to choose from and due to the nature of our business, this is the most important time of the year from a business point of view. As people get ready from Christmas and are looking for presents for their loved ones, we have made sure that we are best placed to meet this need, by participating in as many sales events as possible.


Networking with like minded people: there is no doubt that if not managed properly networking is time consuming but we have discovered that it is a priceless tool in growing any sort of business, as it has given us access to information and people who we would otherwise not have had access to. This has led to increased sales for our company.

All times are hard, there are still opportunities and if you increase your visibility through Press releases, sharing what you know with others and networking with like minded people, you will find out about these opportunities.

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