Santamaria Shirt Makers, owned by Ana Rodriguez is an online business with a shop in Notting Hill, London. Daughter of the famous Spanish shirt tailor Ramon Santamaria, Ana grew up in the bespoke tailoring world of Madrid.
After studying at the London College of Fashion, Ana met husband Alex and decided to launch her business from London. Santamaria Shirt Makers offer high quality Italian shirts, made at the family’s workshop in Madrid. The designs take just four weeks to make, half the time of usual bespoke tailoring.
We spoke to Ana about the challenges that come with setting up a business across borders and any advice she has to offer those thinking about setting up their own company.
“I have realised it’s very difficult to set up an online business. I had to commit a lot of money to getting our website up to scratch and marketing costs were also adding up. It was tricky because being a family business meant that we didn’t have a massive budget.”
As the business was originally online only, the turning point came when Ana realised people didn’t trust themselves to give their correct shirt measurements via a website. This was despite having the world’s first 3D shirt designing app, allowing users to customise their shirt and input their size using the easy to follow measuring guidelines. They decided to open a boutique store in Notting Hill, where customers can now go and get measured by the team in person.
“My biggest piece of advice is to invest in a great website that reflects your brand, as a company’s website is often the first port of call for potential customers.”
Also encouraged if possible is to work part-time when the business is getting started, before committing full-time to the business, as this puts you under less financial pressure. Remember, all businesses take time to grow.
Ana also suggests using TransferWise to pay suppliers quickly and save money. She’s often sending payments to her family’s workshop in Spain and wants them to receive the money as soon as possible, so the service is particularly important.
“It’s really handy, I love that the money is paid straight away instead of having to wait a few days. It’s very easy to use and allows us to save a lot of of money.”
“Word of mouth has really helped our sales and this doesn’t happen straight away.”
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