Take a Closer Look at Flamingo Gifts
In our first ‘Meet the Retailer’ interview of 2017 we’re catching up with Laura Carradice, Founder and Director (and chief cook and bottle washer!) of Flamingo Gifts.
Laura shares the story of how Flamingo Gifts got started and gives us a sneak peek behind the scenes of her unique gift shop. We also talk inspiration and products, before a few final words on the future of this exciting gift retailer.
Tell us a little about your company.
We sell an eclectic array of gifts that we hope will tempt you into treating either yourself or someone dear to you! We try to keep our product range fresh and different by sourcing new products ourselves from little known suppliers.
I was inspired to set up my own gift company after being unable to find exactly what I wanted to give as gifts. I felt sure that there must be a vast amount of great stuff out there just waiting to be found.
From there I plucked up the courage to start Flamingo Gifts on a small scale with the rather naïve notion that it would be relatively easy, and not as all-consuming and life-changing as I’ve since realised it is!
In 2010 I began working from my parent’s garage. As sales have steadily increased I took the plunge, and 2 years ago and moved into industrial premises. The move has enabled me to expand the product range massively and has made things such a lot easier due to the luxury of space!
What is your role in the business?
To be honest, I enjoy everything about my involvement with Flamingo Gifts. I don’t regret setting out on the journey for a second. Sourcing the products is fabulous – finding something new is such a buzz, and then when it’s popular that’s a bonus too. I also think that because it’s my baby, so to speak, I feel incredible affection and pride when it does well!
Is there anyone else in the team? Tell us about them.
Of course, with the increase of volume I’ve been able to take on a small but beautifully formed team consisting of Rachel, Stella and Cath. The nature of our working day means we can be quite flexible, Rachel, for instance, drops her 3 children off at school and works from 9:30am until 3:00pm. Thankfully she has a great support network for the school holidays; although we do joke that it won’t be long before her tots are old enough to lend a hand! Stella works full time, mainly packing and bagging up, while Cath is part time, helping Stella and re-stocking products. Having said that, all the girls are able to step in and lend a hand with all the steps of ordering and supply if someone is a bit overrun.
What is a typical day like at Flamingo Gifts?
On a typical day I tend to be in the office for most of the morning, answering emails, responding to product queries and supplier niggles. All the staff know that I’m approachable and will get stuck in myself if the need arises – at busy times it’s all hands on deck. If you have a delivery of numerous pallets to deal with as well as getting your orders out it can certainly get a bit brisk! Any spare moments you’ll find me online casting around for great new lines.
Who are your customers?
Our customers are a varied bunch and a lot of them are very loyal to us. We have mainly a female perspective but, again, a lot of guys come to our site for that very reason. Surprisingly, there is a vast age range of customers; but then that is the beauty of the Internet, you’re available to all.
What inspires the product lines you choose?
I think it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what inspires our style. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling and hope that other people agree with you! It’s also interesting how some items can become run away successes and surprise us all. Obviously you can’t just stock what you like, but hopefully after years in the game, you maybe develop a knack for what’s going to run.
Tell us about your design style.
I’m especially proud of our new website, we wanted clean, bright and fresh and I think we’ve got it! It’s also a dream for both customers and for us to use.
Who are your favourite card & gift designers?
My fave designers are Brainbox Candy and Sass and Belle; both have a nice vintage twist, are reasonably priced and good quality. Also Brainbox Candy are very cheeky which I love. It’s so OMG and you get a real reaction when giving their cards on Birthdays, which is always fun.
What is your personal favourite product in your shop?
I think my one stand out piece of all our stock is the chrome Turtle dish. It might sound a bit bizarre but it’s one of those things you either get or you don’t! (And it’s selling OK too!) Cast from a real turtle (who died of natural causes) it is just so random, but so cool! A real arty piece I love.
What are the most popular products in your current range?
Our best sellers include Gentlemen’s Club face mats, now who would have thought that up?
And the house proud out there seem to like the 746 Swedish green phone.
What new products do you have planned for the future?
We are hoping to get more into homeware in the future. We’re finding it popular, and as I say, customers tend to return if they like your style!
What do you look for in the products you choose?
Like all our best suppliers, we look for good quality, individual products. We find that trends do influence what you have in stock; obviously, but ultimately you need a core of classic bestsellers, which you can add to.
Do trends influence the products that you purchase?
Yes trends are a must and really influence peoples image of what is hot right now. Trends can’t be ignored. We all want that must have item!
What would you like to do next with the business?
Right now we’re ticking over pretty nicely. Hopefully we are able to build on that and continue to offer great customer satisfaction and feel good factor. We’d like to maintain our standards and grow our ranges, and also to keep enjoying what we do.
Thank you Laura!
Now you’ve read the interview why not check out more. Visit the Flamingo Gifts website.