A DERRY boutique owner has set up a networking group to share what she had learnt with other business people.

Mary Burke established her children’s and baby wear shop a year and a half ago and since then she has discovered a lot about what it takes to run a business both in the city and online.

In particular, she has become well versed at marketing ‘Bluebird and Me’ on social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.

“I always do my best to promote other local businesses, so if I buy something from I will do a ‘show and tell’ on social media because I know what a difference it makes when people do that for me,” she explained.

Eager to network with other local businesses Mary has now established ‘Derry Connections’ which aims to put local traders in touch with each other and share skills and knowledge.

“Everything that I have done in my business I have done it myself,” said Mary.

“I trained as a teacher originally and knew that I wanted a change for several years.

“I took a long time to consider what I wanted to achieve and what I was suited to before deciding in what type of shop I would open.

“Once I had decided I was open within two weeks.

“I set up the website myself in one weekend and I had my husband in painting the shop.”

The former maths teacher quickly realised that social media was a vital tool for any modern business.

“I thought a lot of people would buy online, but it’s not really like that,” she said.

“I call the site ‘modern day window shopping’ because people will look at the stuff online and then they will come in to the shop to buy it.

“Or people might contact me about size and I can send them a link to the site and put the item in their basket which is very handy.”

Benefit

The mum of three believes if businesses in the city can come together it will benefit them all.

“I would really like to help other people and I suppose from my own point of view it’s no good for my business if other businesses in the city are closing down,” explained Mary.

“On opening, I thought the biggest struggle would be setting up my own website and learning the digital side of things.

“However, it has been letting people know of my business and service and then getting them over the door of the boutique.

“I had no idea how difficult this was. Once people come in to us they generally end up customers so I know I am on the right track.”

She also believes it is important to be flexible about what you are offering.

“I would say consider your market - understand the need you are trying to meet and adjust your idea accordingly.

“I am still adjusting the offer in the boutique. Do not rush into anything- write things down on paper - this is a great way of getting clarity.

“Ask everyone for advice-  don’t be afraid of this - it pays to talk. Finally trust your gut - it will always know if you are right - listen to it carefully.”

Mums at work

Mary has recently been featured on the popular blog ‘Mums at Work’ where she shared the journey of her first year and a half in business.

“I was very pleased to be featured,” she added.

“The site features lots of women that I can look up to and learn from, which is what networking is all about.”

Bluebird and Me is located at the top of Shipquay Street.

For more information about the shop and the ‘Derry Connection’ networking group search Facebook.

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