Case Study – Vanilla Spice

Vanilla Spice

Vanilla Spice, located in Kesgrave (Suffolk), is the perfect reflection of what retail needs to be in 2024. It offers boutique shopping for clothing, accessories and gifts, alongside a beauty and holistic therapy clinic.  With easy access from Ipswich, the A12 and A14, and free parking directly outside, it allows people to enjoy the experience of shopping with no hassle. What could be better than enjoying a facial and boutique shopping?

Clinical Background

Owner, Lynn Bolton, spent over 20 years working as a senior radiotherapist in the NHS.  After several years of running a part-time at-home beauty business providing facial peels, microneedling and microdermabrasion, Lynn decided it was time to take the plunge and take her business to the next level.

“I planned to use my beauty therapy room at home to start a full-time business. I was hoping to continue to work part-time for the NHS but to ramp up my part-time therapy business to grow and develop it.  Just as I dared to take the plunge, covid hit,” explains Lynn. “But ironically, having to wait a couple of years has worked out for the best.”

Lynn spent the pandemic working on the front line for the NHS, and after a tough couple of years, Lynn was ready to leave the NHS and concentrate fully on her therapy business.

Opportunistic Shopper

After doing a few Christmas fairs, and events, Lynn could see the demand and benefit of offering a hybrid salon. “I’ve always been an opportunistic shopper, picking up bits and pieces when I could rather than planning big shopping days out. And I realised I am not the only one”, laughs Lynn. “When people are really busy juggling home, work, and family, time is precious and that is really where the idea for Vanilla Spice was born”.

Retail and Clinic Space

Lynn secured a new unit in a retail development in Kesgrave. With free car parking directly outside, and in the middle of a busy community with a library, sports club, supermarket and other retailers close by, it is an ideal location.

Vanilla Spice was born –  a women’s boutique offering clothing, accessories, jewellery and gifts with a welcoming and calm treatment room.

Working with BGCN

Lynn recalls meeting Andy Skinner, from BGCN, at a local networking event.  After chatting, Andy recommended Lynn join the Start, Build, Grow programme.  She describes working with Andy as “amazing” – can’t hope for a better recommendation than that! 😉

“Andy has been there every step of the way. From helping me understand the financial software I need to use, to answering the most random questions to help me navigate running a business for the first time, Andy is there.  If he doesn’t know the answer, he goes and finds out who can help me,” explains Lynn. 

Vanilla Spice is a finalist in the Innovation Award for The Suffolk Small Businesses Awards 2024 which is a great achievement in the first year of trading – something that Lynn says she could not have achieved without the support of Andy.

Start, Build, Grow

Start, Build, Grow Business programme has been developed in partnership with Ipswich Borough Council, AMS Business Consultants, University of Suffolk and BGCN.  A free programme to support start-up businesses in the Ipswich area.

“I keep asking what the catch is, but there is no catch,” laughs Lynn. “It is genuinely at no cost to myself but is giving me access to amazing support and knowledge.”

“I particularly enjoy the Peer Support Group. After working in a team for my whole career, the most daunting thing about starting Vanilla Spice was doing it alone. I now feel part of a team, and it’s great to share ideas, support each other and know that I am not alone with challenges and struggles.”

As well as the Peer group, Lynn is benefiting from 1-2-1 coaching with Andy, specific training sessions, such as business planning and marketing strategy, and access to templates to use for business processes.

Future Plans

“I’d like to develop Vanilla Spice into a Women Wellness Centre offering treatments, advice and support on a range of issues such as menopause, nutrition, and treatments, as well as what colours to wear, how to dress for your shape and feel more body confident,” explains Lynn. “My first step will be to grow the business to allow me to bring someone in to run the boutique, while I can be in the treatment room.”

Whether you are looking for reflexology, deep tissue massage, microneedling, aesthetics or more, have a look at Vanilla Spice. And when you go for your therapy consultation, you can enjoy some retail therapy at the same time 😍