The 2018 British Small Business Awards (BSBAs), held at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel on October 31st, will bring together the brightest stars of the small business economy with the vendors, advisers and financiers that help them start, run, grow and succeed.
Here, we catch up with last year’s winner of the Retail Business of the Year Award, Raishma Islam, managing director of premium occasionwear brand Raishma.
What are the details of the company?
We are a premium ‘occasionwear’ brand that supplies customers with premium products at a mid-level price point. Since starting our Ready To Wear line in 2013, we fundraised online to move away from the bridal side of the business to become more affordable for customers. Initially, our business targeted the British Asian audience but now we cater to a more mainstream audience.
How has the business grown since it began?
Since we started the brand in 1998, we’ve grown to cater for an international audience, and we now have concessions in 12 Debenhams stores in the Middle East. As a result we get a lot of Middle Eastern customers to our store in Baker Street. We see ourselves as an international brand with customers in Dubai, Europe and the UK; we also now have an online concession on the John Lewis website.
After we won the Retail Business of the Year award, we recruited a new wholesale account manager and we’ve also taken on part-time social media staff. We’ve found that social media works well for us; we post three times a day and one of our Instagram videos hit 30,000 views this year mainly because of some good PR we got around the royal wedding.
How did you find out about the BSBAs last year and how did you find the nomination process?
I simply googled ‘awards for small businesses’ online and found about the competition that way. We applied because the awards seemed credible, however, we didn’t expect to win so it was a nice surprise to get the award! Applying for the awards was a really straightforward process and since winning we’ve more than doubled our revenue year-on-year.
How has the business performed since the win?
Winning Retail Business of the Year worked well for us on social media as we received lots of congratulations online and we posted it on our website. This has helped us to gain more recognition and awareness in our industry.
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