RYAN & SHARON LEWIS
MADHOUSE EMPORIUM LTD
Ryan and Sharon are the owners of Madhouse Emporium Ltd. An emporium, marketplace, online store where we bring you goodies with a slightly more personable and upbeat twist.
Read more about what Ryan and Sharon think about the resources available to new businesses and what they get up to in their spare time.
Find out more about the business at www.madhouseemporium.co.uk
Our third interview surrounding local businesses and entrepreneurs comes from Ryan and Sharon Lewis from MadHouse Emporium Ltd.
Please tell us who you are and a bit about your business
We are MadHouse Emporium Ltd run by husband and wife team, Ryan and Sharon Lewis. MadHouse Emporium is an independent retail store stocking items from fashion scarves through to Alchemy Jewellery, 3D printed jewellery (by The Rogue + The Wolf), Candles from Candle Belle in Ireland, Fashion handbags through to funkier and gothic handbags and pretty much anything in between, including award winning Sterling Silver Jewellery from ‘One Wish’ range.
If you get time, what are your hobbies or what do you like to do to relax or have fun?
With a manic household, there is rarely time to have relaxation, but we do like to have fun with the kids, whether that’s going out swimming, bike riding, going for a picnic or just a trundle around town.
For ourselves, we really get the chance to unwind when we go away for our anniversary, when we get to just chill and forget about the hustle and bustle back home.
We love music and love the chance to sit and unwind listening to favourite tracks with a tipple or two.
What made you want to start your own business?
We wanted to start our own business for a number of reasons, but two key factors were the passion to have something that we could call our own and build on and the second was the fact of having a manic home life and something to be flexible enough around that. With 6 kids between us, it’s not the easiest thing to find conventional work that will cater to the endless requests for time off, sicknesses and holidays, yet still pay the bills. Joining forces and working as a husband and wife team, we can draw on each other’s strengths to make a business of our own, but still keep some flexibility in there without worry of the boss breathing down your neck.
What advice can you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business but not sure where to start?
Stop thinking!! Put something into action, if you really want to set up and run your own business, then put pen to paper, jot down your ideas and plan something you can start working towards. Once you have got the plan and the ideas all together, start seeking out every possible outlet for funding from banks to crowdfunding to the Government backed Start-Up Loans Company. The first step is to get those ideas out of your head and onto paper, then trawl the internet for funding options that best suit what you need. From there, you will start to build a relationship with the funding group and build a business plan towards actually opening the doors of your own business. As our favourite Entrepreneur would say “Screw it, Let’s do it” – Richard Branson
How do you manage your time effectively?
Time is a crucial element to manage for us with such a large family in the background of business. We have to note everything that needs to be done, then just get stuck in at every opportunity. We work our hardest to get everything done that we need doing during the daytime and then interruptions from the kids in the evening aren’t so much of a worry and we can spend time with them too.
How do you currently market your business to get as much exposure as possible?
We currently use conventional methods like Google Adwords along with the analytics etc, but we work hard at getting the largest exposure through social media. This means daily posts about meaningful things that interract with our viewers, not just a bunch of product adverts thrown at them everyday.
Where possible, we take part in surverys, blogs, press promotions and anything we come across that doesn’t cost too much. Fairs through schools and local markets are good also for exposure, but nothing really beats word of mouth, so we like to talk, a lot, about what we do and how we can help people find a gift etc.
If you could start again, would you do anything differently?
Yes! We would have gone for a greater funding pot to start with. We were under scrutiny as to why we wanted the funding we did, but we relinquished and dropped our figures by around 15%. It has made the quieter months around 15% harder to manage because of cashflow and if we were to do it all over again, we would stick by our guns of building in the buffer so we knew the ride would be a little easier during quiet trading months.
Do you think that there should be more resources to help businesses to get started, if so what?
This is tough to answer as there are an awful lot of resources out there already, however, the biggest weakness of most resources is that they are run and organised by employed people working for an employer, whether the employer is a government agency or a private company. In order to get true advice on how to be an entrepreneur, surely the advice givers should know and understand what it means to risk everything in the name of your business and not have the comfort factor of a set pay slip every month. For this reason, it is worth seeking out people who have failed in business and then gone on to make a success, they are the real entrepreneurs who know what it takes to get knocked back, get back up and stick at it until the dream comes true.
Agencies and government bodies should think about this carefully and encourage current business owners and entrepreneurs to form groups that are easily accessible to those wanting to start out in business. This is of course our opinion.