“I worked at a bank,” remembered Siobhan “and I absolutely hated it. It just wasn’t me. I had a wardrobe full of vintage clothes and would regularly be at vintage fairs, my biggest love was bohemian 70’s vintage. As I would look around I would think ‘I could do this’. A former colleague from the bank introduced me to The Women’s Organisation and let me know I could get help with a business plan. I also discovered I could get a grant to help me buy stock. Within a year of discovering them I had left my job at the bank and gone self-employed.”
In 2011 Siobhan (then just 25) launched not one but two new businesses, ‘Tatties Vintage’, running vintage fairs and retailing imported vintage clothing and ‘The Lantern Theatre’ which she set up in partnership with her creative mum Margaret.
“When I started Tatties I had a friend who had moved to L.A. who introduced me to a supplier. Since then things have changed with vintage becoming a massive craze, and tons of ‘vintage clothing’ businesses started popping up. Tatties is different from the norm as everything I sell is really high quality and true vintage, but I am always looking at ways to develop the business further and stand out from the crowd, so now I am working on a new project to expand into teaching people about reworking clothes. I can link this nicely with my other business holding classes at The Lantern Theatre.”
As the market became more flooded she decided to adapt her business to have a more online focus, exploring social media marketing.
“I have managed to get over 6000 likes for ‘Tatties Vintage’ on facebook. I find that people who have come to events at the Theatre were aware of Tatties which is great to see how the one supports the other. We had over 1500 visitors turnout for our Christmas Fair last year, which I think was mainly down to our online advertising.”
Like Tatties, taking over at the Lantern Theatre, a fringe venue for theatre, music and comedy, came at the right time for both Siobhan and Margaret
“When mum was made redundant from her previous job we heard that the Lantern Theatre was for sale, so it seemed like perfect timing. We took over the Lantern Theatre nearly 2 years ago now. My mum has always been in theatre so I grew up in rehearsal rooms. We love that Lantern is one of the only springboard theatres in Liverpool, a place for upcoming artists.”
Working with family isn’t always easy as Siobhan has found out. “We have our moments. Because I’ve got a business brain I’ll interrupt her creative flow and make sure she is thinking about making money. The great thing is that you can say a lot more to family. We get things out in the open and can be honest with each other.”
Lantern Theatre is based on Blundell Street in the heart of Liverpool’s up and coming creative quarter the Baltic Triangle. Siobhan told us “I just love the Baltic Triangle. It is becoming a real creative hub. An area that was dying has had a resurgence which is fantastic. I think it is great to have an area bringing all creatives together. We need creative people. Without them it’s hard to market, and they are really great at networking.”
Through running both businesses Siobhan has learned a lot of important lessons and would offer this advice to those considering going self-employed:
“I’d say getting advice is very important when setting up your business. Without advice I don’t think I would be doing well enough to have left my job at the bank. Self-employment can keep you awake at night, but it is more rewarding I think. I think people have more respect for me knowing that I am a business owner. I’m proud of what we have achieved, I would definitely do it again.”
Siobhan is now expanding her fashion reach as fashion editor for Collective Magazine. She says “I think once you branch out and do one thing that you enjoy you get a bug for it. Doing one thing leads to another, and if you are anything like me you will find you end up with your fingers in loads of pies.”
To find out more about Lantern Theatre and how they are supporting emerging performing artists visit www.lanterntheatreliverpool.co.uk. To link with Tatties Vintage head over to facebook and ‘like’ their page www.facebook.com/tattiesvintage
If like Siobhan you have a burning desire to branch out and follow your business dream, then contact The Women’s Organisation today for FREE advice and support on 0151 706 8111 or firstname.lastname@example.org