Running a business that joins a family passion and your personality seems like the best possible match. This is the case of Lucy Goulding, Cofounder and Director of Top Note Design. With her online shop of wine-related products, she managed to join the family’s passion for wine tasting, her creativity and collector hobby.
“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”,
as the saying goes!
How would you explain your business to someone who has no knowledge of it?
A range of original gifts for anyone who loves wine.
How long have you been in this business? And in other businesses?
6 years in this business and prior to that I worked for Diageo, the world’s largest alcoholic drinks manufacturer.
Why did you choose it?
The business was born out of my husband’s passion for wine. I wanted to find a way of exploring my creative side as well as capturing memories of special bottles artistically.
How did you get started?
We started by creating artwork based on the capsules (foil tops) of favourite wines. Initially, we sold these as limited edition prints but then we began to explore how the designs could work on other products; linens, tableware and cushions. In spending time with people who love the wine we began to think of other ways to make the experience of a special bottle more memorable and we started to stock wine accessories such as aerators, coolers, corkscrews. We hope to stock everything you need for your wine room and if we don’t have it already, we will search for the best on the market or create it ourselves.
How do you attract your clients?
We attend wine events and other sales. We are always learning more about wine and want to share this with our customers via our mailing list and other marketing tools.
Can you describe your customers?
So many people love wine, men, women, old and young. This makes our business pretty unique. Our range of gifts works particularly well for people who can sometimes be difficult to buy for.
Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years?
At the moment, we are trying to build our online presence particularly in view of the current situation with COVID 19. We are aiming to the retailer anyone who thinks of when they want to find a wine gift; original, unique and always with latest on the market. In five years time, we would hope to have built our brand so that our wine accessories were available in retailers throughout the country.
Which things make you happy as a small business owner?
Having control over every aspect of the business has been an exciting learning curve. It is great to see so many happy, returning customers.
Which is your best-selling product and why do you think your clients love it so much?
Our Wine Record Book was our big seller of 2019. It is a modern take on the traditional cellar book and is designed to appeal to a younger audience. Our champagne stoppers are always a hit. Great design at a great price and they really work.
Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
There is no one else who sells the range of wine gifts we do in one place.
Customer Retention: how do you keep your customers happy?
Great, personal customer service. We like to build a relationship with our customers. We keep in touch with wine recommendations, recipes and fun tips.
Which challenges did and do you face, running your business?
Sometimes I would like a big team to bounce ideas off. Recently I joined a networking group which is proving to be a fantastic source of support and feedback.
Is there any business lesson you learnt through experience that you wish you knew about earlier in life?
Having faith in myself and the support of customers and colleagues.
How do you maintain a good work-life balance?
Working from home it is sometimes difficult not to find myself answering emails at midnight. I try to set goals for every day and be strict about setting priorities.
Which is your best strategy for time management?
I still work from a handwritten to-do list which I update every day. Setting priorities is so important in order to help a business blossom and evolve. It is easy to feel as if you are continually firefighting if you don’t.