Meet Alison Goode founder of new online gift company A Present Affair. Not content with running a business on her own, Alison continues to work as a wardrobe mistress and as a PA to a music promoter. Her enthusiasm, determination and desire to embrace the digital world will hopefully inspire other women to follow their business ambitions. Alison shares her story and imparts some great advice for anyone thinking about working for themselves.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in Liverpool,the youngest of three children. I now have two children of my own aged 11 and 22. We live in Buckinghamshire with my husband who works in the music industry as a lighting technician.
After leaving school aged 16 I was very lucky to get a job in the theatre working in the wardrobe department. I loved every minute of it. I have been doing the same job ever since, I’m now 47! I left Liverpool to go on tour with Postman Pat, yep you read that right! Don’t be fooled, that tour was wild.
That job was followed by working on various shows in the West End, before moving into the music industry where I have worked ever since. Before the children were born I toured full-time with many pop bands but have now cut it right back to one tour a year, but I still work on lots of concerts throughout the year. As well as my wardrobe and styling work I am a PA to a music promoter and book artists for big events.
I recently launched a new online gift box company, A Present Affair. This venture began almost three years ago with my friend and business partner but after she went through a life changing health issue we put everything on hold. Although fully recovered she felt she had to step away. I had two choices, close it down or take a deep breath and go for it. I chose to go for it.
How has digital technology and social media changed the way you work?
My work as a wardrobe mistress never involved using any sort of digital technology, it didn’t even exist when I started out! Since working as a PA and launching A Present Affair I have had to learn a whole new set of skills. It has been extremely hard as it isn’t something I grew up with like todays young women. I booked a 1-2-1 session with Hayley owner of Southwood Social Hub and she talked me through lots of ideas and how to raise awareness for my brand etc.
I have learnt so much and continue learning everyday with regards to technology. I love the way you can connect with people across the globe and get your ideas and products out there for all to see. My gift box company is a visual product, so social media is a very important tool now days for reaching potential customers and finding great new products. Also through social media (particularly Instagram) I have met some amazing women who have supported me through the tough days.
Technology is moving so fast that it does feel overwhelming sometimes trying to keep up, find out what works for you because it’s almost impossible if you are working alone to keep up with everything!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a business?
- When I found out I would no longer have a business partner it completely stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t talk to anyone or do anything for a couple of weeks. I spent days just crying and saying to myself I could not do it alone. I slowly picked myself up, thought of the time and money already spent and decided to try.
- For anyone thinking of starting something I would say talk to people. Ask for advice and maybe a few hours help. Most people don’t have the budget to employ someone in the beginning so take one step at a time and you will be surprised at what you can do.
- The most important thing for me was having that one person in my life that puts everything into perspective when you are having a wobble. I have an old friend who is never fazed whatever life throws at him. As soon as I tell him what I am worried about he takes the fear away. Some days that quality has saved my sanity. There are some fantastic groups online you can join to meet people who can understand and relate to what you are going through.
- Remember, when the days seem overwhelming and you feel as if you can’t carry on just stop. Go for a walk, get a coffee or call a trusted friend and talk it out. Things will always look better if you just step away for a moment and just breath.
Alison is following
We toured together over many years, she was the hot dancer and I was the wardrobe mistress telling her to “just put the bloody costume on, you look gorgeous!”. This amazing lady has been so supportive to me as we launched our new ventures at the same time.
For her total lack of pretension, her intelligence not forgetting to mention her very wicked sense of humour.