Friday, October 23, 2015

News: Baby Blossom Boutique is Rotherham's newest arrival

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Young entrepreneurs are playing a key role in improving the retail offer in Rotherham by taking it on themselves to add to the vitality and vibrancy of the town centre.

18-year-old Katie Cheetham is the latest to set up shop, taking a prime unit in the Imperial Buildings for her first taste of business - an independent store called Baby Blossom Boutique specialising in children's clothes.

Originally from Rotherham, Katie returned to study at college but decided it wasn't for her. Securing an apprenticeship in a local estate agents, she still dreamt of one day setting up a business to supply, what she calls, "clothes for every tiny personality."

Spotting a gap in the market to find and sell children's clothes that are different to those found in High Street chain stores, Katie took her own baby steps in business and began test trading online before seizing the opportunity to open her own bricks and mortar store.

Stocking the likes of Bob and Blossom, Blade and Rose, and Jellycat, the boutique was officially opened by the mayor earlier this month in the Edwardian, Grade II listed building at the top of the High Street.

Katie Cheetham, owner of Baby Blossom Boutique, said: "Everyone thinks I'm a bit nuts but my friends are going off to uni and getting into 36 thousand pounds of debt and I just saw this opportunity and took it."

Taking on a new unit Katie said that she couldn't be more excited, or terrified.

"I'm only 18!, she added. "I've never even paid a gas bill. I'm learning as I go and everything is completely new. From DIY, painting the shop, using the till and everything else that comes with starting a business."

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Like Tom at Props Skate store, Charlotte at Patchwork Pig, Tom at Cutthroat's Barbers and a number of traders at the Makers Emporium, Katie has been supported by Rotherham Youth Enterprise (RYE). RYE secured part-funding through the European Regional Development Fund, to provide self-employment support, advice and premises for young adults (up to the age of 30) in the area.

"There would be no way I'd even be here if it wasn't for RYE," Katie said. "They've been with me right from the start. They introduced me to the opportunity to apply for a unit through the town centre "pop up shop" programme and have also helped me to secure small grants which will help me to establish my business.

"I also took free space in their tent at the Rotherham Show which was a great opportunity to show lots of people my ideas and get feedback before opening my shop. It was good to speak with other young businesses who were there too."

Jackie Frost, enterprise projects manager at Rotherham Council, said: "Katie was one of 17 young entrepreneurs who exhibited their business at Rotherham Show. The marquee was buzzing the whole weekend and visitors gave lots of positive feedback about the range of businesses and the variety of products and services available. The businesses present ranged from pre start and new start through to trading for up to three years. The show is a great opportunity for young entrepreneurs to show case their business and to meet and network with other like-minded people."

Daren McDool, business coach, at Rotherham Youth Enterprise, added: "Baby Blossom Boutique is a great addition to Rotherham town centre. Katie is one of a number of young people that have spotted a gap in the retail market and grabbed the opportunity to start up in business.

"Rotherham Youth Enterprise is proud to support the new generation of retailers, which in turn supports the aim of a creating a differentiated retail offer in the town centre based around new, independent traders."

Baby Blossom Boutique website
Rotherham Youth Enterprise website

Images: RMBC / twitter

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