International Women’s Day: Rhiannon’s story

On International Women’s Day, we are highlighting some of the inspiring female entrepreneurs celebrated in Small Business Britain’s f:Entrepreneur #IAlso100 campaign, an annual a line-up of 100 multi-achieving women from all over the UK. Rhiannon Lewis, above, is part of the f:Entrepreneur campaign, and #IAlso100 list this year, and tells us more about her journey.

  1. Tell us about Jacobs Boutique?

Jacobs Boutique is a vibrant business in Cwmbran, South Wales, providing valued customers with ethical and sustainable fashion, uniforms, and accessories. We take pride in designing and creating fun, unique and inclusive items for all ages and for all shapes and sizes. No one is left behind, we want to share our self-love, body positive ethos to everyone!

That’s why we include a mixed range of sizes and designs from birth to adulthood, offer custom made orders, and the reason we only share inclusive images and values. Jacobs Boutique proactively encourages everyone to love their beautiful bodies and embrace individuality. We want to live in a world of sustainable fashion, one that’s good for our planet and for people’s purses.

Our customers value us because we provide alternative, unique, high-quality clothing. They love how fun our brand is and how accommodating we are. We post exciting and engaging content on our social media and are working towards growing an empowered community of people.

2.     When did you set the company up an what was the thinking behind it?

I set up Jacobs Boutique almost by accident in 2017. It started as a hobby and turned quite quickly into a successful business which is forever changing and expanding. Initially I wanted to make some alternative clothes for my son, Jacob who was a baby at the time. I couldn’t find anything remotely exciting on the high street, and everything was just a little dull. Being someone who loves a little spark in my life I needed to create something I would love, and something different. So I started to make some cute quirky bibs and leggings! The rest, as they say, is history.

Everything I know about sewing, vinyl printing, embroidery, and business I learned through YouTube and books. I’m completely self-taught, and I feel that this shows my initiative, resilience, and motivation for success.

3.    What products/services do you produce?

We offer handmade clothing and accessories for babies, kids, and adults. As well as embroidery and vinyl printing services both for individuals and businesses. We have expanded our handmade products and services recently, and have employed an extra member of staff to work at our Cwmbran workshop part time.

Our best selling items are our baby and children’s leggings, adults hoodies and hair accessories! We work with local graphic designers to produce unique seamless pattern designs, which we then get printed and cut to order. Our prints are different, they make people feel amazing and help kids stand out. We supply a lot of clothing to children with additional and sensory needs, who just love the fun colours and different textures of our handmade garments.

In addition to our exclusive handmade clothing range, we also provide local (and UK wide) businesses with embroidery or vinyl printed polo shirts, hoodies, aprons, salon gowns, tote bags and promotional goods. We love helping other businesses shout loud about their branding and create comfortable unique workwear to help them promote their business, while looking and feeling like the boss they are! We offer support with design, and custom pieces for weddings, birthdays, hen parties and more.

4.    What do you enjoy most about being your own boss?

The freedom, and easy decision making. I have worked in a corporate career all of my life, and for me things got harder and harder after I had my son. I always felt like a burden, and at the same time felt that work massively got in the way. In September 2021 I took the decision to leave my full time job to pursue my dream of running my business full time, and one year on I have not looked back. I worked hard to educate myself, and empower myself to believe this opportunity would be the best one I have taken yet.

Working for myself has changed my life enormously. Of course it is still hard work, and I still work long hours, but I have the control to work when and how I like. I’m able to make decisions quickly, be creative and enjoy what I do. I’m also able to take the time to do the school runs, watch my son’s plays and take time out where needed with my family. I love the freedom I have, and I love how confident the new me is! Most of all, I love how as a woman I can be my own boss, feel empowered and be able to be a mum with no burden at the same time.

5.    What advice would you give other women thinking about setting up their own business?

I would urge anyone who has a goal or dream to truly believe in themselves to take this leap. Firstly, if you have a business idea (or even an idea in general) run with it. Plan, plan and plan again. Failing to plan, is planning to fail, and that is something that has always stuck with me. You can never learn enough, so read and join courses to ensure you feel confident with your knowledge level  to carry out your business idea. Do not be afraid to ask for help, and do not be afraid to stand your ground and go with your gut instinct.

My biggest advice would be to join networking groups, surround yourself with like-minded positive people from the offset, and be prepared to not get support from everyone – they won’t always understand your decision and may in fact worry about you. Go about your businesses quietly around those who may not offer full support, and just show them how truly amazing you are. Don’t let doubt creep in, and when it does find coping mechanisms to overcome this quickly; mindset is everything (I rely on meditation, reading and a nice bath).

Empower yourself and ensure you take care of yourself. The best version of you will provide the best business, and the best quality of services or products to your customers. And lastly, believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?

6.            Sum up your business in three words.

Fun, Positive, Inspiring

7.            What other areas of your life do you apply your entrepreneurial skill to?

Honestly, everything. My confidence grows every day with each new idea, new sale and new achievement. This confidence helps me in my personal life and helps me to be more sociable! My organisation skills help with every-day life, planning and running a home, looking after a young child, and running a business. Due to my creativity and my ability to generate ideas I tend to be the go-to for friends and family where a little inspiration is needed too!

Communication and listening skills are imperative for my business, and for my personal life too. I consider myself a good listener and always do my best to find the right thing to say in a difficult situation. Through business networking I am also able to meet new people who can help and support my personal life, friends, and family too!