Entrepreneur starts fashion business on £90 - and now exports to 50 countries

A fashion venture launched on a shoestring budget is now selling thousands of dresses a week

Alice Blackie of Pink Boutique
Alice Blackie of Pink Boutique

A North East entrepreneur who started selling clothes with an initial investment of £90 now has a workforce of 40 and sells over 2,000 dresses a day.

Alice Blackie, 26, started Pink Boutique in 2012 to pay for the mortgage on her house.

Now two years’ later, the business operates from a 30,000 sq ft site in Newcastle and ships its products right across the world.

The firm has over 400,000 social media followers, which contributes to 95% of the sales, and the business has doubled its workforce since March this year and has seen sales increase by 300% on 2013.

First year turnover topped £600,000 but Miss Blackie and the rest of the senior team predict sales will reach a seven figure sum within the next 12 months.

Miss Blackie said: “It’s a very exciting time for the business having grown so quickly from the set up in my living room two years ago.

“We’re already looking to expand our current premises after being here for two months due to sheer demand from customers and staff recruitment.”

After noticing a gap in the market for glamorous party dresses, Miss Blackie started to sell through eBay in 2012 before setting up a website six months later.

She calculated that if she sold 250 dresses a month she could quit her other jobs as a full time supply teacher and bar worker.

Now selling almost ten times that target in a single day, Pink Boutique has become a strong exporter, with a faithful client base across Europe.

Miss Blackie, who has a mentor via the Government-backed GrowthAccelerator scheme for fast-growth firms, said the firm is exporting to 50 countries and is starting to design in-house as well as buying in.

She said: “The brand is becoming increasingly popular across Europe, the USA and Australia.

“Satisfying this international demand is a priority and we’re due to launch a Polish website in the coming weeks.”

With a strong customer base already in place in Europe, the firm tested the waters with Facebook and realised the huge demand in Poland.

The team then hired a Polish web developer to deliver on the project and help recruit Polish-speaking customer care assistants, and this same strategy will be used when other countries are targeted.

Having invested in the software to create the Polish website the company now plans to launch alternative export microsites for other European countries and work its way across the globe, using the recently acquired .com domain which means it can target international customers much more quickly and effectively.

Miss Blackie added: “Pink Boutique is now worlds away from my daily routine of running to the post office in my lunch break with 40 parcels. I’m extremely positive for the future.”

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