We are using the business model canvas to work through different aspects of setting up a business. Week 3 we have to speak to prospective collaborators/partners/clients as we need to get a match between our business values, goals, aspirations etc and the values and goals of our customers before any business is viable or sustainable.

I contacted Claire from I.am.nomad, and we arranged a call. Her business – which she describes as a curated shop home where you can browse and buy some of her favourite things. she has a shop/online shop/open house – three venues where she sells from and she says they are three different types of customers.

I had to write three open questions that would give me as much information as possible, to test my assumptions and to get to know her better.

  1. what is your typical customer group

2. what does your business want to achieve, ethos

3. what challenges do you face

My assumptions were that because I liked the products that the shop sold, we would line up with our value proposition, we would be a good fit. I chose this shop in particular because I live near the house that she has her open house events in and the shop is in the west end of glasgow, so nearby. My assumptions were that she would be interested in locally sourced, hand made work. My ideal customers are ethical shoppers who are interested in traditional crafts that reflect back to themselves their own identity, being Scottish or even more local eg in my work at the river Clyde and the peat bog.

What did I need to know – Who are their customers, what they are looking for, where do they source their products, what challenges do they face.

Claire said the different customer groups online, shop, open house differed. Within the conversation she said that probably the shop, west end customers who have disposable income and are very interested in unique work that was locally made.

She stressed that she looks for unique pieces, maybe buying a couple and then wouldn’t buy anymore. She set up her business on the back of being a brand manager and buyer for large uk stores, and it was a reaction against the bland, identikit homeware that brands such as next home etc sell, that every house in the street has the same items. She dresses her shop as she would style the open house – which is her home incidentally, using mid century furniture and one of whatever she is displaying, rather than shelves of identical items.

She works with local ceramic artists but has found difficulties such as long lead time for restocks, leading to uncertainty and not generating belief and trust that she will receive stock when she needs it. We discussed the importance of developing a sense of belonging and trust with your partners who ultimately reflect on your business.

Due to lockdown and Brexit she is having problems importing from her contacts outside the UK. It is ultimately leading to increased bureaucracy, paperwork and costs, which she is loath to pass on to her customers.

How does this impact my business

I thought it was a good fit in terms of value proposition and all round life experience. I think if I could demonstrate a business model that fit with her supply needs and customer expectations she would be a potential client.

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