Monday, 15 August 2022

Let's Get Down to Business: Maria Loggie, proprietor Tigers'n'Tiaras, Henley

Let's Get Down to Business: Maria Loggie, proprietor Tigers'n'Tiaras, Henley

MARIA LOGGIE is the proprietor of Tigers ’n’ Tiaras, a children’s boutique in Duke Street, Henley, which she opened in the summer. She came to Henley from Scotland 11 years ago and now lives with her children, Katia, 16, twins Ben and Blair, 14, and Sam, 13. Fashion is her “big love” and she enjoys visiting London, particularly Notting Hill, where she loves to drink coffee with friends and to watch people for their style.

Describe your business

We offer great quality clothes, shoes and accessories for children of all ages. We source the majority of our items (wherever possible using sustainable materials) from the UK. I generally only buy one size of each item in order to maintain uniqueness and individuality.

How many people does it employ?

In addition to me, three or four ladies who work part-time.

When did you start your business?

We opened in mid-August during the week of Henley Royal Regatta.

What was your objective?

I wanted a beautiful boutique which was different from the mainstream children’s clothes shops. I’d been thinking about it for 10 years or so but had to wait until my children were old enough for me to be able to realise my dream.

Who and what influenced you?

I just wanted to do it. If you have a dream, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I didn’t want to regret not having tried.

What would you do differently if you could start again?

I honestly don’t think I would change anything but perhaps in a year’s time I might answer differently.

What impact is the coronavirus pandemic having on your business?

As I opened in August, I was fortunate to have missed the first two lockdowns. Things have picked up recently.

How do you market your business?

I use Instagram and Facebook a lot. I think my location is perfect — Duke Street has so many wonderful, small independent shops and friendly owners and stationary traffic waiting at the lights is a plus.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

I love coming into the shop. I can talk with customers as many of them don’t just come in, buy something and then leave, they like to stay and chat. I can choose what brands I stock. The hours I spend here are flexible, which allows me time to do the things that I enjoy.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

Probably the paperwork, particularly having to correct mistakes on invoices, such as when VAT has been added to the price of goods that are exempt.

Where is your business headed?

Many people ask if I am going to open another shop, especially those who don’t live near here. That’s very flattering and encouraging but I just want to focus on this one and see how it goes.

How important are online sales?

Everything in the shop is available online and online orders account for about 10 per cent of my turnover. I had to stop taking orders that had to be shipped to other countries because there were so many delays and lost parcels, so I currently only take orders for delivery in the UK

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?

How important it is to be open, nice and genuine. I like my customers to be happy so when anyone buys something I always ask for a contact email address or mobile number. I assure them they won’t get inundated with messages but I want to be able to invite them to a pre-sale preview so they get first choice (and a glass of bubbly). It’s my way of thanking people who have supported me from the start.

What would you advise someone starting a business?

If it’s your passion, go for it. It’s not all about making money, you can build something you can be proud of.

What three qualities are most important to success?

Having passion and being genuine and approachable.

What’s the secret of your success?

I don’t know if I am a success yet. I think that happiness is noticed by customers.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?

Probably millions but it’s too soon to know.

How organised are you?

Fairly, I think. I’m generally quite laid back and don’t stress or get myself in a mess.

How do you dress for work each day?

It does depend what I’m going to be doing but I do make an effort because I like fashion.

What can’t you be without every day?

My children and coffee.

Lunch at your desk or going out?

Generally, I walk across to Spoon and get something (plus numerous coffees during the day).

Do you continue to study?

I learn something new every day.

What do you read?

My choices are quite random and eclectic, depending on my mood and where I am. I like autobiographies and history, often jumping all over the place. I read the Henley Standard every week.

How are you planning for retirement?

I don’t ever think like that. I love what I do right now.

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