Janice Atlay, 40, is married and has two children. She lives in Chester, where she has recently opened childrenswear franchise, Château de Sable.
“I don’t have the skill set to design or manufacture clothing. However, running a childrenswear franchisemeans that I can combine all the things I can do – such as marketing and customer relations – with the bits that I can’t.
I’d worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 17 years when I was made redundant in 2008. Iwanted to try something new, and when I discovered one of my favourite childrenswear brands was looking for franchisees in the UK, I used my redundancy money to cover the initial franchise fee, stock andshop fittings, which came to about £30,000.
In December 2009, I opened my first shop in Chester. I had no experience of retail, which was daunting, but my franchisor let me shadow another franchisee before we opened. They taught me everything from how to operate the tills and dress a window to the all-important stock control.
I did have a couple of hiccups early on. I had problems with importing regulations and, because I opened in December, I couldn’t afford to discount my items during the winter sales. But I felt confident that because I’d bought into a proven business model, it would all be okay, and it has been. We’ve continued to grow – even during the recession – and, although I’m not taking a salary yet, after eight months we’re already making a profit.”