Estelle Puleston works for an online marketing agency and, while studying Business at uni, set up her own lingerie company, Esty. She tells us a bit about how she did it…
What is Esty?
It’s an online platform for independent and small lingerie brands to sell through. We handle all the admin stuff like adding products and marketing them, so the designer just has to concentrate on making more beautiful lingerie! Currently, there are just over 30 brands selling with us and another 10 lined up to be added this summer, plus I’m always getting requests from new designers wishing to sell with us.
When did you first have the idea to start it up?
It was my third year of university, which I was spending abroad. I remember talking about career options with my fiance (then boyfriend) telling me I could do ‘anything I wanted to’ – I’m not sure he meant starting my own business, but it sparked the idea and the very same day I thought of doing it I registered the company and started working on a website. Lingerie was the obvious choice because I’ve just always, always loved it. Really – I remember having a favourite vest when I was 4 or 5 because it had a lace trim with a diamante gem!
How do you balance your time between the two jobs?
I do a little work on Esty Lingerie every evening, and a lot at weekends. I’m pretty much working two full-time jobs, but the Esty Lingerie stuff doesn’t feel like work at all – I can’t wait to get to the weekend so I can add some more content or work on new lingerie samples!
Have the online marketing skills you picked up in your day job helped with Esty?
Absolutely. I did a bit of freelance marketing before I landed this job, but as I studied Business rather than Marketing I only really had basic skills. Since working in the marketing agency I’ve learnt an incredible amount of stuff about SEO, social media and content marketing that I’ve applied to Esty Lingerie in my free time – and the website traffic has more than quadrupled as a result!
What’s your role within the company- does anyone else help you out?
I do have a couple of assistants who help me out with adding products to the site though, which is the most time-consuming part but I do all sorts – from maintaining the website, processing orders and running the blog. I also do all of the social media and marketing as well as design and sew my own lingerie collection for the site.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was always money. I set the business up as a student and I was making a loss for a very long time, but eventually (especially after starting to work in marketing and developing a better marketing strategy for Esty Lingerie) I turned that around and started making a profit instead. Luckily, I’ve always loved running the business so I never once considered stopping even when it was costing me money, but obviously I’m glad it’s now making me some.
What’s the best part about the job?
Almost all the brands we sell are independent designers, sewing lingerie at home and trying hard to become a successful brand, so it’s a wonderful feeling every single time something by one of them sells. I love emailing to tell them they have an order!
Where do you see it in five years?
If I can make it happen, running Esty Lingerie full time. I do love my day job though so I’d be happy enough to still be here, doing two jobs!