As a self-employed business woman, I decided to surround myself with positive, motivational and inspiring people. So I started a monthly networking group called 'Wonderful Women: Minding Our Own Business'. As part of this, I try and interview inspiration business women, and so far I have picked the brains of Angelique Houtkamp, Michelle Ward, Maureen Jann and Hayley Southwood.
Rebecca McWattie owns Stop Traffic Clothing, which seems like the perfect career move for someone who loves retro and vintage clothing! Stop Traffic Clothing sources top quality reproduction and inspired vintage and rockabilly style clothes - all conveniently in one place. She stocks brands such as Bettie Page Clothing, Miss Fortune and Vintage Allure.
ReeRee Rockette: Tell us about your business - how long have you been running?
Rebecca McWattie: We launched in November 2010 so it’s all about networking and telling people who we are at the moment! We encourage our customers to interact with us through Twitter and Facebook by sharing vintage hairstyling or make-up tips or telling us about vintage style events which I review and post on my blog ‘Girl About Town’.
ReeRee Rockette:Have you always wanted to work for yourself?
Rebecca McWattie: As a writer I’m well used to working solo & not very good at being told what to do! I find it easier to take advice from friends and family.
Not many people know this but I suffer from a rare connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which means I’ve always needed to work from home. I was completely bed bound and unable to walk from the age of 12 until 17 so books and films became a huge part of my life and let my imagination take flight. The film ‘A Room with a View’ really struck a chord with me - my view was embracing knowledge. I studied everything from early Italian Art to Vogue magazine!
But films were my passion - they made me feel that anything was possible. When I started walking again - I knew it! Aged 19 I started writing screenplays - and I’m still hoping for a best screenplay Oscar one of these days! Films also inspired me to study period fashion - from 1700s-1960s, which is how Stop Traffic Clothing came about. Don’t all women want to dress like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn?
ReeRee Rockette:What were some of the challenges setting up a business? How did you overcome them?
Rebecca McWattie: As Stop Traffic Clothing is an online boutique I had to find a good web developer, which isn’t easy! So many e-commerce companies want to sign you up and then keep selling you add-ons! In the end the one I went for was the one that was happy to meet with me and I felt I could trust.
ReeRee Rockette: What have been your successes? Any moments that have you have been proud of?
Rebecca McWattie:I think launching in itself was a moment of pride. It took almost a year getting Stop Traffic Clothing off the ground. My first sale was probably the most exciting feeling, it was the day of our launch at 40 Winks Hotel - the lady loved her dress so much she wanted to wear it home!
ReeRee Rockette: Do you have three tips for women trying to start their own businesses?
Rebecca McWattie: Firstly, you have to love whatever field you choose, if you don’t it will drive you insane! You don’t realise how much it will get to you - you think about your business in the car, the bath, I even dream about things I have to do the next day! Secondly, you have to have perseverance & determination - things never happen as quickly as you expect. Thirdly, I think it’s good to have supportive friends and family, especially if you’re working on your own, you need a sounding board.
ReeRee Rockette: What do you love about working for yourself?
Rebecca McWattie: It’s entirely selfish I know, but it motivates me to know the rewards for doing well are all mine! I have more to prove having never had a formal education - to myself mainly. I think my life has given me good old fashioned strength of character, and I wouldn’t be without it - that’s what will hopefully help me succeed.
ReeRee Rockette: Who inspires you? What inspires you? What motivates you?
Rebecca McWattie: My mother for being the most patient person in the world and Winston Churchill (although they are in no way similar to look at!) Gazing into Bond Street shops always inspires me. Bills motivate me!
ReeRee Rockette: Where would you like to take the business?
Rebecca McWattie: I would like to have a Stop Traffic Clothing fashion line in a few years, and start sourcing great vintage inspired bridal wear, plus vintage inspired lingerie and make-up.
ReeRee Rockette: Do you find being a woman in business effects your business experiences?
Rebecca McWattie: Yes, you get to flirt with your bank manager... I’m joking! I think women are naturally better at networking and charming people - at least that’s my 1950s opinion and I’m sticking to it!