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Small NI Businesses in Lockdown: The Boutique Edition with Be Unique By Emma

About Be Unique by Emma

Be Unique by Emma is an accessories boutique based in Ballymoney that's run by mum of two Emma McConaghie. Emma always had a love for fashion particularly accessories and how they can change, complete and enhance any outfit. After working as an Art teacher for a number of years she decided to follow her dream and focus on her small business in April 2011. This allowed her to use her creative and artistic skills to make bespoke jewellery and fascinators from a small studio in Bushmills.

Six years later following the birth of her two children, Emma's aspirations to grow the business saw her relocate to a slightly bigger premises. This enabled Emma to stock and sell a broader range of accessories including handbags, scarves and jewellery in addition to her lovely handmade headpieces.

"I am a strong believer that the right accessories can completely transform an outfit". - Emma McConaghie

Adapting to Lockdown

Selling Online

In March 2020, the UK Government introduced restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and like many retailers Emma was forced to shut up shop. During this time Emma continued to run her business as best she could from her home while also home-schooling her two daughters.

Social media was a great help during this time particularly because Emma had already built a strong following on her facebook and instagram accounts. She continued to show new products through her instagram stories and keep in touch with her customers through these channels.

One thing that Emma loves about working in a bricks and mortar shop is meeting and interacting with her customers. Lockdown put things into perspective and Emma knew that in order to successfully run her business at home she needed to enhance her online offering. In July 2020, Emma launched her new website and since then it has proved a great success with Emma now having more time to showcase her products.

New Premises

Early last year Emma had attended a number of trade fairs where she seen lots of lovely new brands and products that she wanted to sell as part of her business but unfortunately she was limited in terms of store space. In response to this, Emma put plans in place to relocate to larger premises, however the unprecedented pandemic threw a spanner in the works and she wasn't sure if she should go ahead with the move.

The continued support she received from her loyal followers over the lockdown period gave Emma the reassurance she needed to sign the contract. In September, she opened the new and larger premises just across the road from her previous store on Church Street, Ballymoney.

New Stock

A larger premises enabled Emma to extend her offering and provide her customers with all the accessories they could ever need for any occasion. Some of her new additions include beautiful jewellery and gift pieces from Estella Bartlett, stationary products by goodeehoo, coffee warmers and lunch bags by Beau & Elliot and a lovely selection of clothing items ranging from cardigans, jumpers, leather leggings and puffa gilets. In August, she collaborated with 'Little Eve Wedding Studio' who designed a range of beautiful handmade greeting cards that are exclusive to Be Unique By Emma.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, while Emma is not happy about closing her doors for the third time

she is determined to lift the spirits of her followers by showcasing lots of affordable fashion accessories and clothing from her store. She also promises to share lots of fashion tips including how to layer your winter wardrobe and revamp old clothes with the addition of a few accessories.

Emma is incredibly grateful to her family and her loyal followers who have supported her through these challenging and emotional times. While running a small business can mean working long hours, lockdown really highlighted the importance of spending time with family and this is something that Emma intends on dedicating more time to in the future. No doubt her small business and following will continue to grow over 2021 as more people hear of her great store and all the wonderful accessories it has to offer.

Below you can find a link to Emma's website and you can follow her on facebook and instagram using the handle @beuniquebyemma.

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