SW Londoner: ‘A perfect fit’: How a Balham franchisee became an independent business owner

A Balham businesswoman is celebrating one year of going it alone after she took a leap of faith when her franchiser went into voluntary liquidation.

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Elizabeth Jones, 38, was the first London franchisee of the organic nursery collection Natures Purest, and opened up her store on Balham High Road in June 2014.

Three years into trading, she said the company ceased communication.

Miss Jones said: “I went to place an order and there was simply no staff. No one in their offices to answer their phones.”

With two years left on her shop lease, she knew it was fight or flight when it came to keeping her store open and that is when she decided to become an independent business owner.

She spent hours researching brands and products that still matched the store’s ethos and that would still appeal to her loyal customers, and opened her new store, Natural For Baby, in September 2017.

Miss Jones said: “It’s been a big learning curve, as a franchisee I wasn’t able to have my own website so some of my customers thought that I closed down when Natures Purest closed.

“When their website went down it took my online presence with it.

“This time last year I was so stressed but now I feel the relief the comes with not having to do things in a certain way or to be restricted by what stock you have to get in.

“It’s nice to know that it’s my business, not having to report back to someone – regardless if you have had a good or bad day it’s just your friends and family you have to celebrate or commiserate with instead of feeding it back to headquarters.”

Having gone from one main supplier to 18, Miss Jones aim is to increase the shops online awareness and build on her customer base.

Using feedback from her current clientele, friends, and family, the independent businesswoman has made it through a second difficult career transition to have her own shop on Balham High Road, which has been running now successfully for a full year.