How and why I started my online business


Helen Beer of Kent-based QualitySilver explains how and why she came to set up her online jewellery business, which enables her to better balance her responsibilities as a mother with the need to generate an income

"For more than 12 years I commuted to an accountancy job in London. Then, in 2001, I had my son, Callum. Over the next two years I found it impossible to fit in my work with bringing up my baby, so I decided to look into running a business from home.

"My husband Jason is a goldsmith and jeweller and that's where I got the idea of selling silver, titanium, tungsten and zirconia jewellery online. The result was QualitySilver, which I launched in March 2003.

"It cost less than £500 to set up the website. The existing relationships Jason had with suppliers made it easier to get credit to get stock. Being a web-only business made all the difference, because the overheads are so much lower than having a physical shop.

Rapid growth

"The business has grown rapidly. Realising the value of being in a niche for search marketing, in 2005 I created a second specialist website, QualityTitanium. The profits grew and five years later I bought a half-share in a shop, The Jewellery Workshop, in Maidstone.

"Then, in September 2012, I launched Titan Jewellery. This site includes a collection of rings for men and women that are available in all sizes up to Z+10. These large sizes are hard to find on the high street and perfect to sell online because they are high value, but light, so they can be posted.

"Since year one, the online business has grown 500% and now has a healthy six-figure turnover, averaging 100 orders a week. The business gives me a profit that is more than double my previous London salary, so taking the plunge was worthwhile - especially as it enables me to look after my son, too.

Ecommerce software

"I couldn't have made this happen without technology. I've used SellerDeck's ecommerce software from the start because I didn't want a cloud-based platform. I like having complete control of the website and data on my desktop.

"The software made it really quick and simple to put the pages together and it's also easy to update the site with new ranges, best sellers and offers. Marketing is a priority and revolves around SEO, pay-per-click and customer reviews.

"The review system we've subscribed to for the Titan Jewellery site is worth its weight in gold. Personal recommendations are our biggest source of new visitors, plus, about 10% of our sales are from returning customers, so we do very little advertising.

Work-life balance

"Being an online business enables me to fit work around my son, Callum. On a normal day, I work at my computer while he is at school, but I might also do some work in the evening. The stop-start routine can make it feel like I'm working longer hours - but it's not true.

"Admittedly, when Callum was younger it was tricky in the holidays. At times, I had to call on family and friends to look after him, but now he is older he can happily occupy himself or go to his friends to play for a few hours while I process orders or update the sites. Ecommerce is the perfect solution."

Written by Jane Lee.

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