Sally Robinson in the UK
Name: Sally Robinson
Business Name: Ample Bosom. www.amplebosom.com
Ample Bosom is a mail order lingerie business, primarily for the larger women.
Sally started the business in 2002 when the dairy farm on which she lives with her family needed some extra income. Looking around for a gap in the market, Sally decided upon the idea of producing a range of lingerie which would cater to larger women usually ignored by standard retail. ‘There isn’t a particular interest in lingerie’ says Sally, ‘we just thought it would work.’
Initially interested in the idea of lingerie from a business perspective, Sally has become increasingly absorbed by her product and is delighted by the fact that none of her customers is predictable. ‘Who knows what people wear under their clothes?’ laughs Sally, ‘we have young stuff, which we quite often sell to the over the seventies because they still want something pretty.’
With such a relaxed attitude, Sally has found the experience of running Ample Bosom very satisfying. ‘We’re always striving to be better’ says Sally, who recently moved offices and acquired a new warehouse. ‘We’ve got more products. We’re slicker than we used to be,’ she explains.
Based on a farm, Ample Bosom was originally a diversification project and Sally is realistic about the effort needed to run a successful business. ‘The minute I get any money I put it into the stock, or computers and the investment is beginning to show,’ Sally explains. ‘Diversification and starting your own business isn’t a quick fix answer.’
Ample Bosom now employs 20 people, some part-time, and these are valuable jobs in this very rural area. Sally has been a WiRE member for over 10 years.
However, as well as the challenges presented by running her own business, Sally never fails to be surprised by the experience, viewing Ample Bosom with a certain maternal pride. ‘Having a business is like having children. You think you know what you’re doing then they surprise you with something,’ she explains, ‘you can try to steer it but then it goes off in another direction.’
Selling underwear to all ages and all shapes, including a range of maternity wear, Sally enjoys feedback from the customers. ‘I like satisfied customers. You get emails that say this is the best bra I’ve had and this is wonderful’ she says, ‘the people you meet and the challenges it brings are all interesting.’