Flavour like Fancy, a gift shop with a difference

Flavour like fancy is an independent gift shop and online shop, which was started in July 2019 by Tasha Grant. The shop sells unique gifts handmade and produced by small UK businesses, with a focus on Leeds based makers as part of a bid to support local makers. Flavour like Fancy stocks a variety of items from cards to jewellery and ceramics to prints.

Here is how the conversation went, when I caught up with founder Tasha Grant on how she started this great business.

What were you doing before you started the business?

Before opening Flavour like Fancy I’ve worked in a variety of roles within the creative industry including account management, managing art events and marketing and communication. It was through these roles that I gained the experiences and skills necessary to run a business, which I am so grateful for such as budgeting, managing people, and problem solving. In my spare time I also created jewellery under the name Loon Moon jewellery which was an opportunity for me to express myself through wearable pieces.

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What differentiates flavour like fancy from other gift shops

At Flavour like fancy I aim to celebrate work that is bold, colourful and speaks with passion. Everything we stock is something that I like and admire, and in ways it’s an extension of my personality formed by the strong creative community that I am surrounded by. In terms of the décor I was keen to capture that same level of fun and excitement from the stock we sell in the overall shop layout and aesthetic of the brand. Which is why our brand colours feature vibrant pastel shades of pink, yellow, and turquoise.

https://flavourlikefancy.co.uk/

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I understand you moved to Leads to pursue your passion in Jewellery making, when did you decide to create a shop for creatives and why?

I started making jewellery in 2015 and by 2016 it became a growing passion that I wanted to pursue and once a decision was made to move up North, I saw it as an opportunity to try and make my hobby into something more. Once set up in Leeds, I was able to meet a lot of talented makers. I was able to identify a gap in the market for gift shops in Leeds selling unique and locally made work that reflected the fun and vibrancy of indie markets and popular craft fairs. Fox example DIY Art Market and Crafty Fox to name a few. Seeing the lack of opportunities for makers really inspired me to set up the shop and create a space which I loved.

What has surprised you the most about running a gift shop?

I am mostly surprised by the support received for Flavour like Fancy by the makers who form the indie businesses that stock within the shop and the local community. When I initially set up the shop I had researched, planned and felt fairly confident that I had forged a unique proposal but to some extent I was completely unaware of how it would be received. Fast forward a year later, I have gained such a positive response, which I am grateful for and has   made me feel good about the future of the business.

https://flavourlikefancy.co.uk/

What were some of the challenges that you faced when you first started?

Upon opening Flavour like Fancy everything was a challenge as it was all new to me and outside of my business plan. I quickly realised that I had to adapt ways of working to suit the area and customer demographic.  I spent a lot of time trialling items as part of a sale and return proposal and building a range of items which suited the customer needs once I was able to see trends in what was being brought / requested.

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What were some of the mistakes that you made at the beginning and how did you rectify them?

The biggest mistake I would say is going against my instinct. In every new business I think it is important to gain advice from other businesses and listen and learn from their mistakes. When starting out, I made a point to avoid doing things that had not been successful for others. In a way, this hindered my own progress in terms of stock and promotion gained from attending markets. I just decided one day that it was important to see how things went for my business and in so doing regained confidence in myself.

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How do you handle running a business and raising a family?

In October I became a first-time mum and while in many ways, lockdown has made things a little easier it has also had its difficult moments. I’ve realised that I am not superwoman nor should I endeavour to be, the most important thing Is health, well-being and not being afraid to ask for help. I think in particular when you are self-employed it’s easy to feel like you have to manage everything in spite of what goes on personally. I have recently taken on a member of staff to support during the first few months which is such a relief and gives me a chance to settle into family life whilst working at my own pace from a distance.

How did you handle marketing when you first opened?

Initially the majority of marketing activity was done online via social media, community groups as well as old school flyers. I found these were the most cost-effective ways to support my new business and reach my target audience.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business in the same space?

Do your research and really consider your proposal and how it differs to that of your competitors. I recommend completing a business plan even if you do not require funding, as this helps you to formulate the necessary questions in your mind, to determine whether this is the right business idea for you. It’s also worth thinking about whether you are prepared to be self-employed – Having your own business carries the reward of being your own boss but it’s also very risky and has no holiday allowances etc, so it’s important to really want it and be 100% invested in your vision.

If you are looking for a birthday present for someone or you want to support creators, then visit flavour like Fancy here

Meet the founder of award winning interior design company MDC Group

Daniel Taylor MBE is the founder of MDC Group, an award-winning office design agency with over 20 years of experience in designing truly inspiring workplaces for some of the world’s leading brands. The company takes a ‘cradle to grave’ approach to design and works with clients of all sizes and at different stages of their business. It’s therefore no surprise that MDC Group boasts an impressive client list that includes Facebook, Dolby, Harley Davison and JN Bank –The first Jamaican cashless bank to operate in the UK. Some of MDC’s award-winning projects include the South-Central ambulance call centre, which was awarded a silver award by the Home office.

Over the years the company has prided itself in creating modern working environments that encourage productivity, while providing a level of comfort that one would expect when at home.

“When I started the business, I wanted to create a legacy business, not a lifestyle business” Daniel Taylor explains.

With such an upstanding successful business, I couldn’t help but wonder when and how it all started for this entrepreneur.

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Unite HQ

Daniel started his design career at Westinghouse, currently known as TECO-Westinghouse and then moved on to Allsteel, a subsidiary of BTR Group. While at Allsteel, Daniel followed his mentor as he moved up in the organisation to the positions of CEO for Europe and Middle East, a role that required a lot of travel. It took him to places like Czechoslovakia (before it became known as Czech Republic), Qatar and Moscow to name a few.However, travelling for work wasn’t as easy, flexible and sexy as it is nowadays. “when I used to travel for work, I used to take a suitcase full of gadgets in order to stay connected. For example, I had a laptop, modem, satellite phone and so the whole process became exhausting”, Daniel remembered.

When Allsteel was taken over by another company, Daniel saw this as an opportunity to build the legacy he’d always dreamt of. “I am an unusual designer in that I am a very creative person but I am also financially driven and always wanted to own and run my own business”, Daniel explained.

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With a degree in products for commercial offices and a successful career at globally recognised companies, he had built the contact list and expertise to start MDC Group. His talent of being able to articulate an interior design project has continued to win clients over the years.

“I always look at my clients as my friends, because people buy from people” – Because of this analogy, Daniel was able to start the business with a few clients he’d worked for on previous projects. However, after a number of successful months, through the help of his accountant, he realised that his business was reliant on two customers. This was a high risk in an industry that can easily be impacted, especially by economic downturns.

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As such, he decided to re-invest in the business and to make it a family business, because “I had identified earlier on that the UK government was not going to create a provision for me during retirement. Therefore, I had to make that provision for me and my wife (of 30years).”

Optivo Housing

Today, MDC-group is flying the flag for gender representation at board level, with 3 out 5 of its executive board members being black women. “I wanted to work with family because no one has my back like my family does. It just happens that my family is predominantly female”.” When you work with people who are committed to the cause, especially black women, who are strong mentally and physically, they think more methodically and give you a clearer direction, which helps me a lot in the business”.

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Unlike most businesses, the Corona Virus Pandemic hasn’t slowed MDC- Group down. The business was “in a very strong financial position before it happened”. The company continued to win contracts during the period and has re-branded its self as a one stop shop for all property development needs required. Therefore, it has increased its offerings to include design, construction development and interior design.

Some of MDC’s projects to look out for in 2021 include the Dartford hill hub by Rehoboth, who I interviewed in this article (insert link here) and a high design gym with a fight club theme (i.e., catering for sports such as Jiu Jitsu, kick boxing). The Gym is to be placed in a high-density area where It will be used by the surrounding local community.

If you are involved in the construction or property development business, make sure to reach out MDC Group.

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