Planning for investment in the year ahead: Big ticket spend for indie retailers - what's worth it

Planning for investment in the year ahead: Big ticket spend for indie retailers - what's worth it
“Getting my own kiln also made me re-evaluate how I bought my whiteware.” Jinny Ngui, Jinny Ngui Design

When running your own business there are so many added costs that come up that you sometimes just can’t quite account for. Particularly, when it comes to big ticket products. Big ticket products can be defined as ‘items that are of high value’ and, of course dependent on the size of your company and what you are selling, they vary greatly. For product designer Jinny Ngui, who runs her own ceramics business Jinny Ngui Design her big ticket spend came in the form of a kiln and for Highgate Flowers in came as a shop floor expansion. Here’s how they did it…

When did you decide to invest in your big ticket purchase?

When I was freelancing I used to design and decorate tableware in my spare time. Back then I used to hire a kiln, when Pottery Crafts had a small warehouse in Battersea. I used to go to Pottery Crafts on a regular basis when I was studying. Sadly, when Pottery Crafts closed their London warehouse I occasionally asked friends if I could borrow their kilns, which I always felt guilty doing.

How did you prepare to make your big ticket purchase?

I put my designs on hold for a while. One day I was talking with my mum about saving up for a kiln, but I had no idea where I could keep it or even if I could afford one. She kindly offered to lend me the money and let me keep the kiln at the bottom of the back garden. After lots of thinking about which kiln to get I got in touch with Pottery Crafts in Stoke-on-Trent. It look me a while to pay back my mum but it was such an achievement to pay it all off, plus I got to carry making while I did it.

How did it change your business?

Getting my own kiln also made me re-evaluate how I bought my whiteware. Which up until then I bought in dribs and drabs from different places. I found a lovely company called Buttercup China. They offered small minimums and have also helped me decorate large orders, which I would have struggled to fulfil on my own.

What if big ticket spending comes in the form of shop floor expansion?

If you’re in the happy predicament that your business has grown so substantially you need bigger premises then it can be time to start looking for more ground space. For Highgate Flowers that was exactly the case.

“Due to the success of the shop, we had too many customers and not enough space. The shop had evolved from just flowers to include selling plants as well to keep up with current trends. It then expanded to art installations in the windows and jewellery. Two years into the business, we decided it was time for growth. By focussing on expanding the shop, we’ve changed our working environment and are very happy to each have more space to work in. It’s also turned the shop into a much more family orientated area, so we can now accommodate prams. The new space has been really welcomed by our customers and is creating a lot of new business”.