We chat to best friends and co-owners of Glitz N' Pieces Ellen and Grace about turning a college assignment into a successful online business.
Ages: Both 21
Titles: Co-owners of Glitz n’ Pieces
Degrees: In third year studying Entrepreneurship & Business Management Honours Business Degree in I.A.D.T, Dún Laoghaire
We started up when we were both 19 and in our first year of college – it was a class assignment and we had to sell things from a stall. We knew we wanted to sell something fashion-related, so off we went up to the Irish Wholesalers to source some stock. After the stalls project we didn’t really want to give up selling accessories – we loved it too much and spotted a huge gap in the market.
We gathered all our coins and approached a web designer to help us build an e-commerce store which we called Glitz n’ Pieces. Our web designer, John from JCit really hit the nail on the head and created a website that was exactly what we had in mind. Once the site launched, we realised we were on to something successful, something far beyond our expectations! We now have over half a million page views, and people from all over the world shop on our site.
We knew we were on the right track when our social media followers significantly jumped from hundreds to thousands over a short period of time. Then we started seeing our accessories appearing on the television which was hugely significant. We saw people on The Only Way Is Essex wearing our pieces and then Irish television shows such as Xposé and Ireland AM started featuring them too! We knew then that word had really started to spread.
Our days are CRAZY! We’re both currently full-time students with a pretty hectic timetable. The working day never ends but we’ve learned to prioritize work and college so we can keep on top of everything. We start work in the office at 8:30am. Firstly we’ll start off packaging all orders that need to be dispatched. Once that’s complete, parcels are sent onto our delivery service before we head off to college.
It’s great because, with the modules that we study in college, we’re constantly learning new ways to improve and develop Glitz n’ Pieces. We’ll also be answering all our emails when we get breaks throughout our day and updating our social media sites. When we arrive home at about 5pm we complete any assignments which need to be done and then continue with the emailing and social media.
We then have to touch base with our supplier and upload all the new products and data to the website, which is very time-consuming. When you work for yourself there’s not really a clock out times.
We’re very lucky at the moment to have two really nice women working with us: Victoria and Chloe, who are also studying in I.A.D.T. The girls look after various tasks like our newsletters and pop-up shops. We’re also very excited to start working with three more women – Erin, Niamh and Colleen – all starting with us in January. They’re going to look after the PR side of things.
Definitely being able to work with your best friend. It’s also great seeing customer photos and feedback on social media – there’s no better feeling in the world!
We’ve developed a great relationship with an agent abroad who helps us choose and source good quality accessories from around the world. We also stock a few pieces which our exclusive to our store, thanks to two Irish designers.
Picking our accessories is one of the most exciting parts! We shop as if we are the customers and try think of what we’d like to see on an online accessories boutique. The industry has become hugely saturated over the last couple of years with new competitors and we now know that selling good quality jewellery is paramount. We’ve realised that investing that extra bit of money into our products makes all the difference.
There will always be stressful hiccups when you own your own business. We’ve had our site crash due to high traffic, our couriers go on strike, delays in shipments, loads of things! In the heat of the moment it can be stressful but it’s nothing that we cant handle.
At the beginning, we used to take criticism personally, but you need to have a thick skin. Business is tough and you can’t take anything to heart. Another aspect that we find difficult at times is constantly trying to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.
Well we were so young when we started out that our finances were limited. We couldn’t develop all of our ideas as the money just wasn’t there. In saying that, it only pushed us to work that bit harder. Now we can appreciate that hard work pays off!
It has to be when we see celebrities or public figures wearing our accessories! So far we’ve seen Billie Faiers, Lateysha Grace, Marissa Carter, Pippa O’Connor and Rosie Connolly. Hitting half a million views on our website was a bit of a standout moment too.
Go for it! If you’re passionate about something it will work. Take every opportunity as it comes and don’t be afraid if it doesn’t work out at the beginning. It’s a lesson not a failure!
Ambition, passion and a good set of social media skills!