Kylie Hearne set up Stardust Boutique Ltd when she was unable to get a full time job and began trading in May this year with just ten gowns bought with the help of an £800 investment from her partner.
Six months later – with support from the Welsh Government graduate bursary scheme – her turnover has topped £50,000, her stock is valued at £25,000, she’s selling all over the UK and overseas and plans to open a shop in the new year.
Kylie is now the official sponsor of the Welsh finals of Miss Universe; dress sponsor of Miss European which was won by Rachael Tate from Wales while Sara Manchipp Miss Wales 2011 wore three of her dresses during the preliminaries of Miss World – the largest beauty contest in the world.
Kylie also recently organised three regional Welsh heats for the Face of Europe competition when the finals took place in Disneyland Paris this month.
“When I started trading in May, I had no capital, no mannequins or even a steamer for the dresses – I bought ten gowns and hired them out and ploughed the money back into the business,” she explained.
“It was a high risk as I had no idea if it was going to work, whether it would be a success or a flop. I decided to start my own business because I couldn’t get a full time job after graduating from Swansea University – I’d get plenty of interviews but didn’t have the relevant experience.
“However, I did have experience of the pageant world, had sold on eBay in the past and decided I’d have a go selling glamorous gowns on-line. The skills gained from my degree in Classical civilization have actually proved extremely useful and I also benefited from a four day enterprise course through The Prince’s Trust.”
In September Kylie successfully applied for a £6000 Graduate Start-up bursary from the Welsh Government which is designed to support young graduate entrepreneurs and was, she says, a real turning point for her enterprise.
“This was a great opportunity and I am really so grateful for the help of the Welsh Government which enabled me to extend my range to include jewellery and shoes, take a lease on a shop and concentrate on marketing.
“This funding and support is amazing and has made a huge difference as I never thought I would be able to afford to rent a shop in my first year. It will help get the business known locally and expand my customer base.”
Although her main market are beauty pageants, Kylie plans to target the rapidly expanding school prom market and cater more for special occasions, stocking party dresses and ballgowns when she opens her own boutique.
Her long term plans involve launching her own label and moving into the wholesale market.