Making it personal is good for business

SME Magazine catches up with Jane Gokgoz from the Personalised Gifts Shop to find out how business is going

Jane, tell us about your business?

Personalised Gifts Shop is an online retail company I set up in 2011. We can personalise almost anything and everything that you can imagine. Customers choose the gifts they want to purchase from our 14,000-product range, and then tell us the message they would like to put on that gift. We have over 30 hi-tech machines at the warehouse so can turn around and dispatch within 24 hours – except during popular occasions such as Christmas. Then it’s two days.

How did the business come about?

When my children started getting older and more independent, I began looking into options as I wanted to keep busy. I knew I wanted to do something in online retail and I kept coming back to the idea of personalising something. Both my children have quite unique names, so I could never get them anything personal. Until now! So I spent £5.50 on buying a domain name and a hosting, getting the site up and running and off I went.

What is your background, did you work in a similar role before?

I used to work in London for a finance company, until I moved to Northampton. So this is a little different! But I managed a large team there so have brought a lot of earnings with me; I think it stood me in good stead.

Have you hit any major challenges along the way?

We originally had a third party product supplier but I realised that to have full control, I needed to get the products and produce everything in-house. The changeover meant a lot of extra time, I re-mortgaged the house and redesigned literally everything; it was very stressful. But it’s been worth it; we now source all the products ourselves and our team of in-house designers create the designs. It means we can be sure of our products’ quality and appeal. Taking the plunge meant that our turnover grew massively, so it was definitely worth it.

What are the most popular things people want personalised?

DIY products! We have sent out a lot of personal hammers! Homeware is consistently popular too. Then there are trends, for example children’s gifts have been unicorn-themed over the last few months, and gin is very popular at the moment. There are seasonal trends and I go to trade shows to keep my eye on up and coming products. We’ll personalise pretty much anything, as long as the message is not meant to cause offence.

Where do you hope to take the business?

We are growing fast, so in the short term we need to get more space; we currently have a 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse but with the machines and storage, need to double that. Longer term, I have my eye on other avenues that will take the brand outside just online retail. Exciting times ahead…