Discover the story of Caroline and the Gina Concept Store in 10 questions.
Meet Caroline, owner of Gina Concept Store! Last week we had the chance to speak to Caroline about her concept store in Aix-En-Provence, southern France. Caroline puts together the entire range herself and regularly adapts it to the wishes of her customers. Caroline mainly sells interior decoration, but you will also find jewelry, dried flowers, accessories and local delicacies. We asked her why she started Gina Concept Store, what her goals are for 2020, and what the biggest challenges are that she faces. Read on to learn more about Caroline's story and her store!
The creation of the Gina Concept Store
1. How did you come up with this idea? What does your store name mean?
- At the end of my studies in 2019, after a bac + 5 in communication and marketing, I looked for work for a long time. I quickly realized that the companies I applied for did not match my vision of business and my values. I have always loved interior design and have always wanted to create a place where all the desires and atmospheres you could wish for are present. After months of looking for a position that didn't suit me, I decided to follow my instincts and become my own boss, with the help of my mom who has been a retailer for over 40 years and always wanted to open an interior design store. The name of my shop is a tribute to my mother, Régine, whose nickname is Gina, given by her Italian great-grandmother.
2. What is your goal and what resources have you deployed to achieve this?
- My goal is to be able to continue building my shop that I consider my cocoon, to design it in such a way that a place of life and conviviality merge. Anyone who walks in should feel at home and have fun. I try to take risks and offer other products so that the atmosphere changes regularly, which is why I am constantly looking for new producers. I also want to focus on local and handmade products.
3. In which product categories do you fall?
- I offer interior decoration; from a small decorative object to a large piece of furniture. I also offer a range of accessible jewelry, as well as bunches of dried flowers or bouquets that we have made ourselves. Also organic groceries; soft drinks and fresh juices made in France, as well as shortbread, meringues and canistrelli made in France and produced by artisans. I have also selected a range of teas by a professional Marseillaise, these teas have been selected with great care and each has its own history.
A moving story
4. What has been your greatest professional achievement since you started Gina Concept Store?
- Very simple, being able to open my own shop at my age, especially in these difficult times because of COVID-19. My greatest achievement is that I have been able to bring to life the dream of my own mother, who today is involved in the design of the store and the selection of products. The store has only been around for a few months, but I've already learned a lot about myself. I am naturally shy, but I feel comfortable in front of customers.
5. What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
- As a young entrepreneur, there are many! Starting with the investment required for this, both financially and physically. The fact that you are settling in a city that has had similar stores for many years is also a problem, you need to know how to be accepted, make yourself known to customers and be appreciated. Relationships between shops are often ambiguous, newcomers are often seen as a threat.
- The most difficult aspect is still the financial aspect, if you don't start with a lot of input, you have to make choices. You can't have all the products you want from the start, so I had to make choices. This aspect motivates us to broaden your horizons, look for other products and other brands that are within our budget, while keeping our medium-term goal in mind.
6. What would you say to other retailers facing the same challenges as you?
- I would tell them to follow their hearts and their desires. Opening a business is of course complicated, especially nowadays. But I've always wanted to follow the principle that we only have one life and that a life is made for us to enjoy and do what we are passionate about. Today my thinking is that at a young age I am lucky enough to be able to do something that I am passionate about, and that I can be my own boss; if it works i would be happiest! If that doesn't work I wouldn't be sorry like I would have tried.
Orderchamp the practical solution
“The platform has made my job easier because nowadays I have the opportunity to juggle a large number of products, and especially to consistently offer new products. ”
7. Why did you choose Orderchamp?
- I initially chose Orderchamp for its easy access to brands. The minimum order amount also appealed to me because I can test a large number of products without investing very large amounts.
8. How has our B2B marketplace helped your business so far?
- The platform has made my job easier because nowadays I have the opportunity to juggle a large number of products, and most importantly, to consistently offer new products. I can now buy different products and brands in the same place, which saves a lot of time. I would definitely recommend Orderchamp to everyone.
The main advantages of the platform are: The minimum order amount, the possibility to pay later and the variety of products. Direct interaction with brands is also an essential asset.
9. What are your favorite products on Orderchamp? And which brands do you often view?
- You probably already knew our brand Yoshiko is my favorite brand on Orderchamp! The products are very beautiful, original, of extraordinary quality and at very affordable prices. Communication with the brand is also excellent. They are very responsive and thoughtful which is a huge plus.
10. How did you deal with the Covid-19 situation?
- I opened my shop in the middle of the COVID-19 epidemic. Unfortunately, like my colleagues, I had to go into lockdown quite quickly. It's been an uncertain period to date, but again, it allows you to broaden your horizons. Nowadays it is very difficult to secure a place among the immense number of companies present on the market, where many major players are active. I am now trying to save my young company through the website, and especially by communicating a lot through social networks. I think people these days want to get to know their traders and learn more behind the scenes. Human relationships are at the heart of companies' priorities, and my priority too. Nowadays I try to communicate as much as possible with my (potential) customers to build a relationship of trust with them.
If Caroline's story has moved you and you love the products from the Gina Concept store, please continue to her site clicking here to discover them.