When you run your own business, you set the rules. Always imagined customer service should be better? If it's your business, you can put that ideal into practice. Ever wished more products were designed with the user in mind? Own the designs and make it so. The beauty, and the challenge, of running a small business is all that everything is down to you - as long as you keep it under your control - as long as you keep it exclusive.
Friends ask "when are you going to sell in M&S?". "We won't" we reply. If another retailer asks if they can stock our product, we politely decline. Yes, the extra sales would be welcome, but we'd lose something more valuable. We'd lose contact with our customers. Surprisingly the most rewarding part of running Robert Owen isn't making sales - it's the contact with our customers. It shapes how we run our business.
It's why Robert Owen undershirts are only available to buy at our online store. It's not that we don't want our men's undershirts to be worn far and wide. We do. We'd love more men to experience the heavenly comfort of a Robert Owen undershirt - and besides it would be great for business. But, we are not willing to sacrifice quality to get there. When Yvonne and I grew started this business we decided, from the outset, this was our chance to shape our little part of the world.
Keeping the direct link to your customers is good for business too. Our customers get involved in product testing; we use their feedback to improve our undershirts designs. Sometimes our customers ask for our advice on fabrics or sweating or layering, and we're happy to help. For one customer, who was about to visit the UK, we've even recommended places to visit. But it's not just the positive stuff. The five-star reviews are, of course, welcome - they make our day - but we also don't mind fixing the problems. It's when things go wrong and how you address them that proves the type of business you are. In our experience, you can delight someone just as much by fixing their problem as you can by exceeding their expectations in undershirt design.
So when we say - all designs are exclusive and only sold here - we don't mean to sound high handed. We mean to say that we'd rather stay close to our customer to make sure they get the best undershirt for them. That's the kind of business we aim to be.