My first year as a franchisee has been ALL the emotions and a steep learning curve but I feel like I’m well on the way to owning a successful business.
I first found out about Sam and the CeCe & Me opportunity when I was on a bit of a mission to save our local shoe shop. If I’m honest it was mainly for convenience reasons, so I wouldn’t have to traipse into Exeter to visit the high street with four children in tow. But also because I know how important it is to get growing feet measured and fitted well.
I quickly discovered that saving a shop was a lot more complicated (and expensive) than I had initially appreciated, but the seed had been sown…
Sam told me all about CeCe & Me back in early 2020. A mobile children’s shoe shop – what a brilliant idea! Convenient, relaxed and enjoyable shoe shopping, appearing in places you’ll already be with your small children. I was sold. Typically for me, I also had a lot of questions! I’d need a large car to transport the stock to pop-ups (yep, we’ve got a seven seater, phew). I’d need to undertake six months of training with The Society of Shoefitters (sounds doable). I’d need a spare room or space to put the stock (hmmmm, not really, but I’ll worry about that later…)
Then Covid happened and everything was put on hold; I took the opportunity during the lockdowns to complete my shoe-fitting training so I was ready to go when things were back to ‘normal’. We finally signed the contract in August 2021 at a pizza restaurant in Covent Garden in the middle of an Extinction Rebellion protest. After lots of years of being a stay at home mum, looking back this was pretty momentous for me. I didn’t actually realise it at the time – I’d spent the day travelling from Devon with my two boys (then 13 and 6), gazing at Lego and M & M’s in Leicester Square, and avoiding being swallowed up by the XR march!
And so it began…
One of the great things about owning a franchise is that the behind the scenes stuff has already been done for me - website, branding, stock research, etc – I also get all of Sam’s knowledge and experience to tap into, and great back up and training.
Choosing my first lot of stock for Spring/Summer 2022 was so exciting, but oh so difficult - I’m terrible at making decisions! I’m so glad Sam had already met with the reps and whittled the choices down. It was still agonising though (for Sam too I expect!) but a year in and I’ve placed the order for 22/23 like a pro (well - sort of!).
So, a few months into 2022 the stock started arriving… and kept coming. I hadn’t really gauged just how many boxes there would be! It was like a shoe filled Christmas, and I got to see the quality of the shoes and how well designed and made they are for the first time. I got very creative with where to store everything – mostly behind the sofa.
Now I just needed to find the little feet to fit the shoes. Social media is great for this, and after a while I had my first fitting appointment booked in. I was so nervous, but I fitted my first pair of shoes (Ricosta Nippy's, size 25 in green, in case you were wondering!) without any drama and these first customers have since been back for a second pair, which is validation in itself!
Now I’m well into the autumn/winter season and I’m feeling confident with things, people are recommending me and leaving reviews. I’m enjoying meeting everyone and spending time fitting shoes well. I love offering the service and getting to help and advise on all things shoe related. Next summer I’m considering stocking school shoes too.
I’ve still got loads to learn and improve on and there’s always new challenges but I’m happy that I can fit work around my family. We even managed to move house in the summer (madness) and get a new puppy (total madness!). I’ve definitely got big ambition for my small business, with lots of ideas and enthusiasm to build it into a well-known and appreciated resource for local families.
Looking forward to what this next year will bring! See some of you soon, Sally