Flying high with Funky Furniture
PUBLISHED: 12:04 17 December 2010 | UPDATED: 15:20 20 February 2013
Karen Rayner is a part time British Airways cabin crew member living in Hatton Park, Warwick. She started 'Childrens Funky Furniture' after having her son Jack and finding it difficult to buy unusual, good quality, pieces of furniture that childre...
Karen Rayner is a part time British Airways cabin crew member living in Hatton Park, Warwick. She started 'Childrens Funky Furniture' after having her son Jack and finding it difficult to buy unusual, good quality, pieces of furniture that children would enjoy having.
Karen is married with two children (Charlotte, aged 19 and Jack, aged 5). She moved from Coventry to Warwick in 2006 and started the website business shortly afterwards. She has many interests but much time outside of her work activities is taken up as a Warwickshire Magistrate, sitting in Stratford, Rugby and Nuneaton.
Six months down the line and Karen tells Warwickshire Life how things are going.
Have you been in business before?
Yes. I had a bouncy castle business in the early 1990's. It ran for four years and it was reasonably profitable - eventually however I was made an offer that I couldn't refuse and sold the business on.
Was it difficult getting started?
Not especially. The idea came about as I was attending a furniture show at the NEC and realised that there was an opportunity in the market for retail of unusual children's products of high quality. Starting the website from scratch has been a quick learning curve but the trick here is to understand how to promote the site to potential customers - that's the difficult bit!
Did things go to plan?
No. I hadn't realised how difficult it is to put together a really professional website that is 'search engine friendly'.
Any major problems in the first months?
The biggest problem was establishing a relationship with top quality suppliers. Some suppliers are suspicious of website retail and choose to protect their shop-outlet retailers by restricting business with website-based companies. Convincing several suppliers whom I really wanted to get onboard proved to be a real uphill struggle, although ultimately a successful one.
What sort of response have you received?
Very positive! Our furniture and wide range of beds have generated sufficient business at this early stage to convince me that we have a viable and sustainable long-term future. We have also had some really great responses from customers who have been delighted with both the product and overall service that we offer.
Where do you find the things that you sell?
Two sources! There are major furniture shows which most of the big trade suppliers attend. This is the primary source. However, since we have become more prominent as a website, the site itself has started to generate interest from potential suppliers asking about business opportunities with us.
What's been the best part of working for yourself?
The nature of a website business has been that I am able to fit everything else into my life whilst running an everyday business. This was exactly what I wanted and why I chose to retail furniture through a website rather than, for instance, opening a shop.
And the worst?
The telephone goes at all hours - even late on a Sunday night!
What are your plans for the future?
To expand the range of furniture available to include new-born babies is the immediate goal. But in the long-term, the business needs to focus on higher website prominence so that our products are readily visible to potential customers.
Have you any advice for women looking to start up in business?
Set yourself realistic targets and realistic budgets. It takes drive and determination to get a business off the ground, but persistence is a good attribute to have.
Website address and contact details...
Childrens Funky Furniture