A former Merry Hill shopworker is now running her own award-winning business in the Brierley Hill shopping centre.
Victoria Salisbury-Scott, from Shropshire, found a love for retail after shunning a career in law and working part-time in a jewellery shop while studying at university.
From there she worked her way up the ranks from the shop floor to becoming a supervisor and bagged herself a job at the Merry Hill shopping centre in 2008, as an assistant manager for Ernest Jones.
She told BlackCountryLive: “I found my passion for retail at university, my intention was to study law but I had a part-time job working for a small jeweller and absolutely fell in love with retail and jewellery. I discovered an untapped skill I had for selling.
Following two redundancies in just three years, the 36-year-old decided to open her own boutique, Wild Iris, which specialises in women’s fashion, jewellery and accessories.
She continued: “I decided that I didn’t want anyone to have control over my future again.
“From my experience of working in head offices, I knew how to open a new store so I was able to find the right location and do the right research.
“I applied for a government-backed start-up loan and the application process was good, you got a lot of support. I relied heavily on the local business growth hub and they were fantastic in providing resources.”
Victoria opened her first shop in Ironbridge, Shropshire, in July 2019. Business boomed until a weather disaster and global pandemic hit.
“We had an amazing six months but then biblical level flooding happened in February 2020. The town was evacuated and I missed out on half-term and Valentine’s Day trade. It was devastating”, the entrepreneur added.
She said: “We reopened for a couple of weeks after that, then the pandemic hit.”
After embracing the online shopping trend, she was able to open her second store in the Merry Hill shopping centre in July 2021. She also won the title of Best Clothing and Accessory Retailer of the Year for the Central England region in the Corporate Live Wire Prestige Awards.
Victoria said: “I spent five years working there and have such fond memories of my time so it was very exciting when I got the chance to open a shop there.
“I knew there was nothing like Wild Iris there or in the surrounding areas. Consumers are bored of traditional high street stores now which has been proven by all the retail giants we have lost recently, they are looking for more unusual items. One of the best things that have come out of the pandemic is an outpouring of love for small businesses.”
In Shropshire, the business owner teamed up with a local homeless charity to support women trying to get back into employment by providing CV advice and outfits for interviews.
Offering advice to others wanting to follow a similar path she added: “Take your time, do the research and do the planning thoroughly. Make the most of your local growth hubs. The more planning you do at the start the more likely you are to succeed. Never be afraid to ask questions. The most important thing is to find a network, self-employment can be very lonely so it’s important to find a supportive business network.
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