If you want to build an award winning business, attract free celebrity endorsements and meet Prince Charles, read Carly Thompsett’s story.
Meet Carly Thompsett
The founder of Anaphase Store, Carly has built an online clothing company based in Cardiff and what a journey she’s had to get here!
1. Why did you start Anaphase Store and what were you doing before?
I left school at 15 with some GCSEs but being dyslexic I was told I probably wouldn’t amount too much anyway so why bother. I wanted to become a fashion designer but bounced around every 6 months to a new job.
One day I woke up and realised it was now or never if I wanted to pursue my dream. I bit the bullet and quit my job, googled ‘how to start a business’, and one of the first results that popped up was The Princes Trust, so I called in and explained I wanted to start a business and asked if they could help me.
2. What were the biggest sources of inspiration and support when you were starting out?
The Princes Trust explained they had a course called the Enterprise programme that I could go on to get me started. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but was pleasantly surprised by how much information I needed to know to run a business; and the depth of the course was amazing. I came out with a new lease of life and excitement for my new journey.
They helped me with my business plan and I had weekly meet ups to go through all my information to make sure I had everything I needed for ‘launch group’ which is like dragons den and so scary. My adventure began and Anaphase Clothing was born.
I was given a mentor for 2 years to help me with any problems and advice and I have networked a lot doing their courses.
The trust were always there for me for what ever I needed – willing to put me in contact with other mentors who would help me if mine couldn’t.
3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting the business?
To not be so naive! When I first started my business I thought I knew everything, and I found out the hard way which I actually found helped me even more.
I have learnt to speak to people if I need help, ask questions if I’m stuck, reached out if I’m struggling; it doesn’t mean you can’t do it alone it just means you’re human. I get asked all the time ‘can you tell me everything you’ve learnt so I can start my business quicker’, the short answer is no. I had to learn the hard way and it made me understand things so much better and makes me work a lot better now. If I give all my secrets away I’d be selling myself out and it won’t help the person who I have told as they won’t find the valuable lessons in making mistakes.
4. What has been your proudest moment/biggest achievement so far?
I have collaborated with 4 other businesses that went through the enterprise programme and currently have a fully funded office in Caerphilly thanks to the welsh government. I have been growing my brand to attract all different types of customers so I can create a bigger collection.
I was a young ambassador for The Princes Trust, so I would attend events and do speeches on how the trust has helped me; I am now a volunteer and business mentor.
Along the way I have met lots of famous people. Kelly Hoppen loved my ‘Don’t touch my hair’ sweatshirts and posted it on her Instagram along with Giovanna Fletcher who posted one of my candles on her Instagram story, which in turn sent a lot of people my way.
I have done an interview on BBC radio wales along with Heat, Kiss, Kerrang, Planet Rock and Magic. I met Prince Charles who laughed at ‘Don’t touch my hair’ jumper and told me he loves eBay. A
My business has also been shortlisted for 5 different business awards, and we’ve won 3 of them.
I was also invited by Buckingham Palace to attend Prince Charles 70th Birthday Celebrations
I was listed as one of the 35 under 35 top business woman in wales 2018.
I have been mentioned in 63 new papers and magazines articles through my journey and it’s lovely to hear that people still find me just as inspiring.
I now also have 2 paid staff members, 2 interns and 5 reps around the country working for Anaphase Store – I feel extremely lucky to have achieved what I have in such a small time.
5. What piece of advice would you give to anyone starting out?
Don’t be afraid to take chances and ask for help. We all need to learn how to do things; that’s how we become experts. Also don’t live a ‘what if’ life, don’t look back and think what if I had done that, what if this and what if that – take the chance and give it a go. Even if you fail you can say you tried; but that doesn’t mean it’s the end. Simon Cowell and Peter Jones lost everything a few times before they became who they are too – don’t let other people’s fears stop you from living the life you want.
6. What piece of investment did you make in the business that was worth every penny?
I had funding from the Prince’s trust but I now see that I didn’t really need any of it. I’ve cut down holding stock as if it doesn’t sell or gets damaged it’s out of my pocket, so we print as ordered, make candles in small bulks so we keep everything to a minimum.
The website I feel is my company’s greatest assets. I am on my second website now because you grow as your business does. The first website I paid for, it was really good and functional but as the design got older it needed updates and I was not tech savvy so I would rely on the person who created it for me; but he only had a certain amount of time too. The website then became slower and slower, it wasn’t mobile responsive so I found a provider that was easier to use; which is my website now.
7. Which element of marketing has made the biggest impact on your business?
Social media is the only thing I have used as marketing. When I first started my business I knew nothing about social media. I had heard of hashtags but had no idea how use them. I only had a Facebook page because my college made me so we all could get used to using the internet. So when it came time to advertise my stock I was at a dead end. I signed up to my local university to do a 3 month course on digital marketing for business and I learnt how to do everything without paying. It was amazing. Since that course, my website visits have gone up by 200%. I grew my followers and get lots of interactions that people would start asking me for advice so on the side of Anaphase Store, I have a business called CJT Marketing and PR where I help people with the same struggles I had.
8. What do the next 12 months look like for you?
We are looking for more staff members and a bigger office at the moment. We might also open a shop – so fingers crossed for the next 12 months.
Have you had an incredible journey to get your business to where it is today? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.