Happy Birthday to Us! Our first year of trading.
Today, West Yorkshire Cameras is 1 year old, and we are reminiscing about our first year of trading…
It was mid-august 2012 when Nick approached me about starting up a business, at the time I was just preparing to go back to my third year at uni. At this time I was thinking of a subject I could do for my final major project. Nick at the time had been thinking of what he wanted to do come the end of uni. With both of us sharing a passion for photography, my creative brain and Nick’s business brain, going in to business together made a lot of sense, and West Yorkshire Cameras was born.
So we got cracking on our website, original branding, and sourcing our initial stock ready to start trading. We got in touch with Huddersfield University Enterprise Team (where we both studied at the time) and sought advice about starting up. Through this we managed to book a stall (a week a month) on Queensgate Market, starting October 2012. Later on in the academic year we got accepted on to their Activ8 scheme for graduates.
At the end of September, we created our own branded film – which we still have to this day, proving to be a big hit with our customers.
We have a framed collage of our pre-trading period in our shop to view, which we feel is an important part of our past.
October soon came around and with it the first week at Queensgate Market. We had been relentlessly flyering for the last couple of weeks in September to let people know we were there. We planned to use it as a buying in station. On our first week we had to fill our displays out with our own personal cameras – to show how much we have grown we now have 20 boxes of stock stored away on top of what’s on our shelves!
Although we had bought in stock from camera fairs previous to this, out first official buy in from a customer was made on the 2nd – a Pentax ME Super kit with a 50mm & 28mm, not bad for our first buy! The week brought in much more stock than this too, including items such as a couple of Mamiya 645 1000s kits, a Yashicamat, a Canon AE-1 and various Zenits & Prakticas.
Our first month was surprisingly good for sales, with most of what we bought on the stall, selling by the end of the month – this ended up being the pattern of how our months continued; buy in on the first week at the stall, spend three weeks uploading & selling online.
All in all October was a great first month for West Yorkshire Cameras, which set us up nicely for the rest of our the time on the stall.
The New Year
Once Christmas & New Year came around, sales had picked up, our stock was rising faster than we ever thought it would and google had started to notice us in searches. Every month we were beating the previous month in terms of revenue and it was looking up. So far up in fact, we started to look at a more permanent home.
We initially asked the Enterprise Team at Uni to see what they thought and what they had to offer. They put us in touch with the Packhorse Centre, Huddersfield, who we were conversing with for quite some time about a trial period in the centre when we graduated. We also looked at a permanent stall in Queensgate Market, a stall in Kirkgate Markets, and of course The Corn Exchange.
Looking at it in the long run we both felt that we would always end up at The Corn Exchange, the building was magnificent, the community was brilliant, and it is the perfect place for independent businesses. So we jumped right in at the deep end.
How could we say no to this beautiful place?
The End of an Era: Queensgate Market
May came around very quickly, which marked the end of an extremely important era for us; trading at Queensgate Market. People say this a lot but we genuinely wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that little stall at Queensgate Market, so on behalf of myself and Nick I’d like to say a massive thank you to the Enterprise team for allowing the opportunity and to the market for being so accommodating.
With the end of one era comes another, and the hard work started now – deciding on a shop theme, letting people know where we were moving to, buying the supplies for the shop fit… A lot of work was to be done now that our time at Queensgate had come to an end. First thing was first for me, I needed to finish my degree! This was my Final Major Project time and I was spending 10+ hours a day, 6 (sometimes 7) days a week working my butt off to do my FMP to my high standards. I took advantage of the creative freedom at uni, and decided to work on the rebrand, a series of designs & illustrations that are soon to appear on merchandise in our shop and to do a small advertising campaign.
We had a couple of major milestones in June.
The rebrand was launched, revamping everything making it look more professional, more up to date, and to fit in with the current trends but to keep it open to change in the future. To see more on our rebrand click here.
We picked up the keys to the shop on the 17th June! Which meant that we had a lot of work to do in terms of the all important shop fit: Repainting, sanding the floor, cutting and sanding down 50 lengths of scaffolding board, drilling the holes to put up the shelves, cutting down the studding used in the shelves… Alongside this we still had to run the business! This time for us was a bit crazy as you can imagine, and we are so grateful for the all the help that we got from family & friends.
We recently posted a gallery of images from the shop fitting which can be found here.
In July we continued with the shop fit, preparing for the launch event which was held on Saturday 13th and included live art, beer, champaign, music, and a big sale to celebrate the opening. The event went down very well, and was a great start to our new shop. We did a blog post on the launch event which can be found here.
During the course of the year, we have had some good exposure for West Yorkshire Cameras, including being in the Huddersfield Examiner, Photo Professional Magazine and even an interview on BBC Radio Leeds morning show with Liz Green.
Article on us in the Huddersfield Examiner back when we were on Queensgate Market.
An article on us and the new shop in Photo Professional.
A couple of shots of BBC Leeds when we were live on air on Liz Green’s morning show.
So what do we want the future to bring? We have already had a few enquiries about jobs, which means we’re doing something right! Hopefully in the future we will be able to take on some extra staff to help out with the workload.
We have even talked in our long term goals about opening a second shop… Anything could happen.
One thing we hope for the future though is that film photography continues to be on the rise, and photographers all over start to shoot film again.
Huddersfield University Enterprise Team
The enterprise team have been there from the start for us, supporting us and getting us the time on the market stall in Huddersfield for free, which really did make us who we are today. More recently we got accepted on to the Activ8 your business scheme they have in place too, entitling us to more 1 on 1 support, tuition and also a grant to help us in our shop.
Second on the thank you list is Tom’s Dad, Graham. He worked tirelessly in the evenings at home sorting out a lot of the wood and metal, and even came up and stopped in hotels numerous times to help fit out the shop – without Dad’s help we probably won’t even be open now! He makes a cheeky appearance on a few of the shop fit photos, being very hands on. All of this was done while having a bad hip (he recently had a hip replacement) and bad shoulder – what a guy.
When Dad comes up, so does Mum – keeping everything in check, cleaning, tidying up after us when we were too focused on other things, and also watching over the shop when me and Dad were off in another unit building things, chopping things up and hammering away – stuff that can’t be done in the shop.
Tom’s Grandad. Being a retired joiner, Grandad was a massive help in sourcing the wood, advising us on what wood to use and how to go about it – not to mention letting us use a lot of his tools and making the visit up here a couple of times.
Tom worked alongside Lucas on the rebrand of the business, and without him we wouldn’t look as lovely as we do today. Lucas’ work can be found on his website at lucasjubb.co.uk
Crim, ran by one of Tom’s tutors at Uni, and consisting of a few of his Uni friends, did the wall art that can still be seen in the shop. They did a brilliant job and we would highly recommend them to anyone who requires any similar work doing. Crim’s work can be found on their website at crimcollective.com A special thanks goes out to Jonny Lindley, Adam Fraser and Josh Haywood who worked this.
Tom’s girlfriend – she was in and out of the shop all the time when the shop fit was going on (while living over in Manchester!), doing lots of odd jobs and bits of painting – very helpful during the busiest period of our shop so far.
One of Tom’s friends from Uni – Harry was another helper that came in to the shop a few times during the shop fit, and got lots of painting done for us.
Glenn helped us a few times during our first year of trading in terms of getting supplies for the shop, storage, and other bits and bobs with his contacts through owning his shop in Leeds, Homeconomy.