A former Midlands Today weather presenter has launched an online fashion boutique after seeking financial backing on social networking site Twitter.
Genelle Aldred boldly tweeted that she was looking for investment – and was delighted when a private investor gave her the thumbs up.
As a result, she launched SadeRose, a website selling exclusive fashion items and accessories last month.
“I just posted on Twitter ‘anyone interesting in investing in a fashion business?” said Ms Aldred, who was born in Handsworth, Birmingham.
“I put myself out there to see if someone would come back to me – sometimes in business you have to put yourself out there.
“I’m really grateful to my backer for coming back to me and saying yes.”
She also received funding with the help of the Start-Up Loan programme, an £82.5 million government backed scheme led by Lord Young and former Dragons’ Den investor James Caan aimed at young entrepreneurs who are looking to finance a business.
Through this programme, she was put in touch with Fashion Angel, which offers mentoring, networking and business funding for fashion entrepreneurs.
“The people at Fashion Angel really helped me to hone my ideas,” she explained.
“I asked them what they thought about an online boutique only selling exclusive items and they said they thought it was going to be hard but that I could do it.
“And because they had the belief in me, I’ve managed to do it.”
All the items are European, mostly made in the UK.
“I’ve really tried to think about how I can support British business,” says Ms Aldred, who now lives in London.
“All the items are British apart from two which are French. I think we’re one happy EU family now in any case.”
The SadeRose boutique has an online collection of just nine items at a time. They are exclusive items that are not available to buy anywhere else in the UK.
She said: “I approached fashion brands and up-and-coming designers and asked if they could give me exclusive item. That way it gets to be something special, more one-off.
“There are never more than 200 of the pieces available. Some are exclusively in one colour in our boutique.
“When I go shopping I think what I want before I go, I go online and see all the choices of that particular item, say a green dress for a party, then go onto the high street to look at the garments.
“I love high street shops like Zara, Topshop and even Primark but you know if you buy something there, you’re likely to see someone else wearing it.
“My boutique sells things I love but that are not already out there. That makes a big difference.
“Shopping online can be a massive fishing experience to find one thing.”
She has also come up with her own designs which she sells online.
“I designed a bow belt a while ago and looked into having it manufactured in China but decided against it,” she said.
“I’ve now had it manufactured in London not far from where I live. It really is a dream fulfilled, quite a surreal experience really.
“When you want something so bad, you strive for it and go for it and when you finally see it, it’s a great feeling.
“Plus manufacturing in the UK is great, you don’t have to do massive orders and it’s good for the economy as well.”
She is now working with a pattern cutter to design a dress for her collection, which is regularly updated and changed as items are sold.
“I would never sell anything I don’t like. I wouldn’t wear all of the items I sell because they wouldn’t all suit me but I do love them all. They are such quality items, I know people won’t be disappointed.”
There is another reason why Genelle wants the boutique to be a success. She has launched it in her daughter’s name – SadeRose, who was stillborn when she was just 19.
“I’ve finally decided now is a good time to launch my boutique.
“I’ve wanted to do it for such a long time, and it’s evolved a lot along the way.”
Ms Aldred, who studied at the London College of Fashion before going into journalism, also runs a company called Strut To Success, where she offers motivational workshops in schools and support centres.
She hopes the money she makes from the boutique will help her to offer her mentoring services for free in the future.
“The fact is a lot of young people don’t have good role models,” she said.
“And it’s often the case that the people who need help the most are the ones who cannot afford to pay.”