BYRCOLLECTIVE is a retail consultancy that works with small retail business owners and entrepreneurs to help them set up and level up their businesses.
BYRCOLLECTIVE was founded by Sophie Biggerstaff, who after an 11+ year career in the retail industry working for major global brands such as Ralph Lauren, Diesel, Kate Spade and Burberry, saw the opportunity to utilize her extensive skills, industry insights and experiences to help develop and grow start up brands.
Throughout the pandemic so many new small retail businesses were born, independent brands are booming and #shopsmall was trending. For many of the founders starting their retail entrepreneurship journey was a brand new career change, so many of them needed a little help in hand to keep them on the right path and avoid expensive mistakes, and this is exactly why BYRCOLLECTIVE was born.
Through mentoring, freelance consultancy and an affordable membership programme Sophie teaches retail entrepreneurs how to build sustainable and profitable businesses, using proven strategies she has used throughout her career.
Sophie’s main mission through BYRCOLLECTIVE is to help turn ideas into reality and in the past 10 months of trading she has already supported over 30 entrepreneurs in building their dream retail business.
Where did the idea for BYRCOLLECTIVE come from?
I’ve worked in the retail industry for the past 11 years for major brands such as Ralph Lauren, Diesel, Kate Spade and Burberry. Last year I left my job at Burberry seeking new adventures and a better work/life balance outside of the corporate 9-5. I had planned to do some travelling and then come back and start my own business or find a job in a startup, but when the pandemic struck I was stuck in lockdown in London, jobless, with a mortgage and bills to pay!
I’ve wanted to start my own business for a few years, but the timing was never right, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I decided to start utilizing my experiences and insights in the retail industry to help support small businesses and entrepreneurs. For me setting up in the pandemic was perfect timing as so many new businesses were born and there was a lot of opportunity for me to help. I got my first client in June 2020 and since then my business has grown quickly, I’ve pivoted my business multiple times to capitalize on opportunities in the market and I now offer freelance, mentoring and membership services to small retail business owners & entrepreneurs globally.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Every day is pretty different for me, I usually start the day at about 8am. I am not a morning person at all, so I always try to do a morning workout to wake myself up. Most of my days consist of lots of calls – with mentoring clients, freelance clients, new clients & then in between these calls I try to get actual work done. I like the flexibility I have being self employed, so I break the day up to make sure I stay productive, by going for a walk, to meet a friend or do my weekly shop then come back and do more work in the afternoon/evening. I often set myself 45minute timers so I work solidly for that time with no distractions, then take a 15 minute break to stay productive. I try to finish by about 8pm and relax watching netflix, but sometimes I work longer depending on what the next day looks like. I go to bed about 11.30pm, which annoyingly is usually when my best business ideas come to me. (hence why I’m not a morning person)
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am very much a doer – so as soon as I get an idea I will start working on executing that. Usually this starts with a bit of a brain dump on a bit of paper of all the things I need to think about to bring it to life, then I’ll write a list of which order I need to do them in and start working my way through. I like to bring things to life as quickly as I possibly can so I will set myself a deadline and work to get it done for this date.
What’s one trend that excites you?
If I’m honest I don’t really get excited by trends, as a “trend” indicate something temporary, trends are rarely permanent, they don’t tend to stick around or stay trending for very long, so as much as I will always embrace & try new trends that emerge for example the introduction of REELs to Instagram, or new social media app Clubhouse, it won’t be long before we move on to the next thing, whatever that might be, so it’s rare I get very excited by any of these as everything just tends to move on so quickly.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think the fact that I don’t really think things through before I do them, I just go for it before I’ve had a chance to talk myself out of it. If I really want something I will do anything in my power to get it, I rarely wait around until I’m fully ready. I just leap in head first and hope for the best, and I think this must be a good habit as it nearly always pays off!
What advice would you give your younger self?
“Can’t is not a word” – You can do absolutely anything if you put your mind to it!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Followers are not always your customers. Everyone in my industry seems to be obsessed with social media and the amount of followers you have. For me followers mean nothing unless they are converting to paying customers, so I try to preach this to everyone I work with.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Hindsight and analyse what I’ve just done, so I know what went well, what didn’t and where the opportunities lie in order to grow and maintain momentum, pivot where necessary to achieve future business goals.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Using LinkedIn! So many small business owners I speak are not using LinkedIn and it is a massive miss… There is so much potential on LinkedIn that will help you grow your business in some way, I’d probably say 60% of my clients have come directly to me because of my posts or connections on LinkedIn. It is SUCH a powerful platform if you use it in the right way. I always say you should use it to connect with people you want to know, rather than who you know, as you never know what opportunities that connection might bring.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I launched a group mentoring programme and despite initial demand (hence why I created it), nobody signed up! This was a big learning curve, it taught me how important marketing was, as this was ultimately the issue that I hadn’t really marketed properly. I was also pitching it to the wrong audience. I was honest and canceled the course, took the learnings and pivoted the content into my membership, which I then launched a few months later.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Hmmm, for the retail world I’d say there’s definitely more opportunity in “boxes” – whether that’s subscription boxes, gift boxes, food boxes, care boxes – everyone loves the convenience of not having to think about their purchase. If they can buy a ready put together box with amazing product over sourcing everything separately for the same end result I think this is a winner. And they can be really cheap to set up too!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
This is quite boring, but I bought a new webcam & headphones recently and my call quality has improved SO MUCH! For someone on calls most of the time this is a game changer.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Excel – I use it for absolutely everything, calculations, lists, tracking, planning. My brain basically functions as an excel spreadsheet, so for me this is so much easier to use that loads of different online systems, I couldn’t live/work without it!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The 4 Hour Work Week – I haven’t finished it yet, but already it’s helping my productivity and to focus on the bigger picture. The advice about turning notifications off and only checking emails once a day is the best thing I’ve implemented for my own sanity running my business.
What is your favorite quote?
“Opportunities don’t just come to you, you have to create them!”
- Trends are temporary – don’t get too caught up in them.
- Can’t is not a word – you can do anything you put your mind to.
- If you have an idea, just run with it and do whatever you can to make it come to life.
- Followers are not always customers.
- Business owners should get themselves on LinkedIn to capitalize on opportunities.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.