Chrissie Rucker, founder of the White Company, was kind enough to give OxWIB an interview to share her success story and her best tips for anyone wanting to make it as an entrepreneur. Chrissie started the company in 1994, after spotting a gap in the furnishing market. She recalls attempting to find white furniture and being confronted with two options; the cheaper, high street brands where quality suffered, or the luxury brands which had amazing products but were very expensive. Instead, she wanted to provide fantastic quality products that were affordable in shops where customers would feel welcome. She realized that this could be done; the luxury brands have a huge mark-up on their products, and by minimizing this mark-up she would have the same quality for a more affordable price and still make a profit.
Tips for Anyone Wanting to Start their Own Business
“I Like Things to Happen, and If They Don’t, I Make Them Happen”
Chrissie also shared her best tips for how to make it in business after you’ve taken the initial leap. Her own strategy is to grow organically, to make sure expansion goes along smoothly. For example, The White Company have now made online orders available from America, but have yet to open a store on the ground. What a lot of brands do is that they go to America too fast, and open 15 stores without understanding what the customers want. Customers have different tastes/sizes etc; even their definition of “double bed” would be different. It’s essential to learn what the customer wants, and the way to do this is to be slow and careful, always testing everything and making sure it works
She also emphasises the importance of remaining philosophical about things happening around you. Everybody will you copy you once you are successful; the important thing is to see it in a positive light, as a motivator to make yourself better. On the same point, its also paramount to have a strong team – Chrissie recalls making some terrible mistakes at the beginning, employing her friends instead of trying to find the people with the best skills.
Three Key Things
Now that her business has grown beyond what she could ever have hoped for, her day-to-day is concerned with what she believes are the three key components of any business; brand, product and customers. She advices always testing your product, making sure to have focus groups and constantly be producing new ideas whilst keeping quality intact.
Chrissie’s advice when it comes to customers is to put yourself in their shoes; make sure that you listen to them and ask for their feedback. You only have one chance to make a first impression and so you should make it count. The service has to be fast, helpful, so that the customer always feels welcomed and has a good experience with the company.