Welcome to the first in a series of profiles, featuring some of the most important people in my business – my clients! I’m really excited to share some more of the behind-the-scenes bits of the work I do. And, of course, to show off some of the brilliant small business owners I get to write for.
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably already seen my blog posts for Sebastian and Millicent. This boutique lingerie and erotic toy retailer launched online in October 2016, and I’m excited to watch it grow.
I’ve been working with founder Rachael Cunningham since she got in touch with me back in July. As soon as we had our initial consultation, over Skype, I knew she was exactly the kind of client I enjoy working with. I loved her punky, feminist spirit; her big passion for her small business; and her purple hair! When she later sent through the list of blog topics she wanted me to work on, they were right up my street – a combination of feminism, health, sex and relationships, wellbeing, and politics.
What I love about Rachael as a business woman is that she really knows her target audience, and she knows they want more from Seb & Millie than just a faceless shop. As a brand, Seb & Millie is gorgeous, stylish, and independently minded – and it speaks to its customers in a real, authentic way. The fact that the products and designers they stock are incredible is an added bonus! I genuinely adore the Ottoline sleepwear range by Hesper Fox – and they’re not even paying me to say that.
I sat down with Rachael for a chat about Sebastian & Millicent’s raison d’être, and how my writing services are helping her build a brand voice that her customers can relate to.
SG: What’s Sebastian and Millicent all about, and where did the idea come from?
RC: Sebastian and Millicent is about two things: discovering the vanguard of fashion and accepting yourself.
The idea was in my head for about 15 years before I finally did something with it in 2016. Most of my friends thought I was mad! The recession was still proving an issue for businesses, banks were reluctant to accept anyone who sold adult themed products, and I wanted to retain my full-time job.
However – spurred on by the trends for natural beauty and women’s empowerment, the fact that sex is now accepted in mainstream society thanks to the Fifty Shades trilogy, and a pinch of stubbornness – I ignored the naysayers and opened the business.
SG: Who and what are your personal inspirations and motivations?
RC: I’ve always been driven by success, experimentation and the desire to help people. In school, I was the quiet girl who listened and handed in homework on time, so that I could then help the kids who were struggling with abstract science concepts. The business provides a platform for me to help really talented individuals get their names out there and show others what they can do.
My love of fashion, by the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Iris Van Herpen, is a constant inspiration for shaping the direction of the business. They really push boundaries with their designs, and I want to emulate that confidence in Sebastian and Millicent. I’m extending this concept with the new demi-couture and haute couture sections of the business, coming in March 2017, whereby garments can be made to individual measurements, for specific clients, and they can book private trunkshows to view the collections.
SG: What do you look for in the designers you stock?
RC: The designers are the most important part of the business; their talent allows Sebastian and Millicent to continue growing. The key attributes I look for are:
- Impeccable construction and quality – lingerie and erotic toys are a very personal choice; they not only serve a practical purpose, but also improve self-confidence, mental and spiritual health
- A unique point of view or meeting a unique need – such as our specialist ostomy lingerie by Jasmine Stacey
- A collection that isn’t too widely available – many of our designers hand-make the items, so they aren’t available in vast quantities
- Innovative silhouettes and fabrics – such as leavers lace, charmeuse silk, and leather for lingerie; and steel, precious metals, and blown glass on the erotic toys
SG: You’re obviously passionate about more than just selling underwear and erotic toys. What do you hope your customers will get out of Seb & Millie?
RC: The one thing I would like clients to get is the desire to discover, both in terms of discovering new designers and a personal discovery within themselves. Opening your eyes to new things is exciting, and people can be so enriched if they let themselves go on that journey of discovery!
SG: Seb & Millie is currently a side project you’re running alongside full-time work. How do you find the time to fit it all in?
RC: It is difficult at times, particularly when I need to visit a designer to view their collection, or take a phone call during the day. (If you’ve ever tried talking quietly about adult toys, or a new type of bra that prevents ‘quad boob’, in the work toilet then you’ll know how difficult it is!)
I’m lucky to have collaborated with some wonderfully helpful people, who not only assist with the day-to-day jobs – like updating something on the website that I’m finding tricky to do myself – but also bounce ideas around with me to improve things, like you do with my blog.
SG: I love the range of topics you’ve commissioned me to write about for the blog. What do you feel that content adds to your brand?
RC: It is so easy to open a lingerie and sex toy store and leave it at that. But people don’t work in such a compartmentalised fashion. People now seek these personal items to help them with sexual dysfunction, to heal mental or spiritual wounds, and to increase confidence either in themselves or with a partner. The blog helps people talk about these wellness concepts, and works to link the products with the person. Ultimately, Sebastian and Millicent is about people and their experiences, and I want to showcase this in the blog.
You can view Sebastian & Millicent’s full range at: sebastianandmillicent.com.
Could my writing services also benefit your business? Click here for information about working with me, check out some examples of my work for Sebastian & Millicent, or click here to see what other clients have said about my writing.