Many start-up business owners have to combine the pressures of setting up with part-time or full time work due to financial reasons. A successful start-up business will start to take up more and more of your time and you have to choose wisely when you sever ties with your day job in order to focus full time on your own company, and the balancing act in the meantime is a crucial one to both the health of your start-up business and your personal health.

Catherine Coast has managed to build a successful start-up company, online lingerie retailer Violet’s Knickers, whilst also working in her day job. In December 2012 she decided to move full time into working on her start-up company and so far she has continued to successfully grow and find new ways with which to market her company.

Why Lingerie?

Catherine previously worked part-time for a bespoke kitchen design company whilst developing her ideas for an independent store of her own.

She had always wanted to run her own shop and decided to focus on lingerie after seeing first-hand how dwindling sales had affected the high street. Aside from the larger chains such as Marks and Spencer there were very few options for women to buy high quality lingerie. Catherine saw the opportunity for a niche product that could form the basis of a start-up company.

At first Catherine admits she was possibly a little naive about what was possible straight away and after realising that a physical shop was not a realistic prospect decided to focus on developing a business plan that could work, and staying in part-time employment elsewhere would financially be the best option in order to maintain a liveable income and naturally grow the company without overstretching budgets.

A period of transition is always necessary to allow your new business the time to grow naturally, to iron out any problems and to give you the chance to gain a stronger financial footing in order to eventually move into a full-time position, and this is exactly what has happened with Catherine. Although she did move back into full-time employment for a short period, it was a lifestyle that could only last so long if Violet’s Knickers was going to be a long term success and after readying herself financially for the move, Catherine has now thrown herself into working full time on her project.

How to Market a Start-up Business?

Catherine made the decision very early on that she wanted to be an integral part of the whole company, be a hands on owner, and this came down to the marketing side as well as the administrative.

She has focused on digital marketing rather than traditional offline advertising and in particular has thrown herself into social media in a way that has seen a growth of followers on a number of different platforms.

As a start-up business owner, Catherine made the choice to hire specialist help in areas of marketing that she was unfamiliar with while always keeping a keen eye on how things worked. She has worked with website designers and developers, a PR professional and had help with social media management, all with a long term view of building up her brand in the public eye and having an online presence that looks as glossy and high quality as the lingerie she is selling.

The focus with social media has been on a number of different platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest, each with its own unique way of showcasing Violet’s Knickers. Pinterest especially is a great way for an online retailer to grow a following as it is all about imagery and style, something that lends itself to lingerie. Customers old and new can almost feel the material when lapping up the many images that adorn this social media platform.

Aside from the imagery, Catherine has also invested time and energy into blog posts and also hired the help of a professional videographer who has produced a stunning video for the website’s home page. It has been a great way to pique the interest of visitors to the website and to generate discussion through the various social media platforms being utilised.

Catherine has always seen the benefit of outsourcing specialist services that can help her grow her start-up online business naturally. She wants to learn as much as she can so that she doesn’t have to waste large swathes of her budget on marketing skills that she might be able to complete herself, but equally realises that you can’t do it all on your own.

She is currently learning basic PPC and SEO in order to know more about online marketing and with the help of a PR company is continuing to grow brand awareness for Violet’s Knickers in a managed and financially healthy way.

How to Emulate Violet’s Knickers?

Catherine’s is a success story. She saw a niche market and has developed her ideas and business plan over time to suit her own financial needs. Sometimes the best way to grow from scratch is to continue working part or full time in another job, until you have the breathing space to put your whole life into the business.

What Catherine has achieved could only be done with hard work, an eye for detail and the realisation that although you should try and learn as much as possible about the mechanisms behind good marketing, you can’t do it all alone. So what would her advice be to others looking to branch out with their own start-up business?

“My advice would be to read everything you possibly can on setting up a business and your line of work, use all the free resources that are available but also put plenty of budget aside for marketing.

Working for yourself during the day can be quite challenging which is why it’s fun to get a really good relationship going with your followers on twitter, they keep you going!”


In the future she would like to own a physical independent store but not until the company is ready to do so. Until then you can find Violet’s Knickers in the following places online:


Twitter:  @VioletsKnickers 

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