Live Like the Boy is a shining example of an independent store helping to revitalise its local high street, bringing colour and individuality to the heart of Colne in Lancashire.
The brainchild of textiles and interior design specialist, Ashley Sutcliffe, it’s a business with two complementary but distinct specialisms – one is a quirky, designer homewares store and the other a fully-fledged interior design business which helps to create some fantastic café, restaurant and store interiors.
It’s these two sides to the business that give it a unique quality that keeps loyal customers coming back for more. Good interior design is about form and function, and that same sensibility informs every aspect of the high street store too – from products to customer service.
“Nothing goes into the store that I don’t believe is both beautiful and useful,” Ashley explained. “On top of that, service and honest advice is something every customer gets. Whether they’re buying a roll of wallpaper or a piece of furniture, our customers know they’ll get the advice they need to buy the right products. That is what value for money is all about – spending money well – and I know people really appreciate the advice we offer.”
Equally, however, Ashley’s passion for his business, and design in general, shines through.
“Starting a high street business and making a success of it is not a part time job,” he said. “It’s long hours, dedication and a willingness to learn every single day, whether that’s keeping up to date with design trends or getting to grips with the intricacies of accounting. You can’t do that unless you’re really passionate about the business.”
“More importantly, customers see that passion every time they come into the store. They can see we genuinely care about delivering a great experience – and the financial benefit for the business flows from that. I believe you simply don’t get that same experience in a chain store.”
That dedication that Ashley shows has brought about many rewards. The shop has thrived now for six years and recently moved to new, larger premises. But for Ashley, it’s the people and the control he most savours: “I love working with a real range of people, whether this is for a matter of minutes when they buy in the shop, or for months during a design job. I’ve never worked harder in my life, but I get to choose when I do it.”
Ashley is proud of his achievements to date. “I have built the business from scratch and now have a strong customer base with many regular customers. This in turn provides a good turnover of stock and money,” he explained. “To create a new business, and be a part of the high street and a growing economy that wasn’t there before is just something to be proud of.”
As with any high street business in recent years, it hasn’t all been plain sailing of course.
“Every day is a learning curve,” he explained. “It doesn’t matter what your specialism is or what your business is. You might be great at accounting or social media, but there is always something to learn or overcome every day. It’s how you overcome challenges, and how quickly, that matters.
“Things like having the right insurance is part of that. It’s a must have of course, but business insurance for me is about peace of mind – just knowing someone has your back if something goes wrong. This means I don’t have to worry and I can focus on delivering great customer service so people keep coming back”.
Despite his unquestionable success to date, Ashley is not resting on his laurels, and always has one eye on the future: “The first priority is to carry on growing as we have to date – slowly and steadily. But one day my dream is to stock our own branded product ranges. It’s a long-term goal, but without something to aim for, you end up going backwards.”
You can follow Live Like The Boy in the following ways:
Facebook - @liveliketheboy
Twitter - @liveliketheboy
Instagram – @Live Like The Boy