Goodbye Dreamgirl Shopping

Friday, 30 August 2019  |  Admin

Goodbye Dreamgirl Shopping

Everything is on sale at ridiculously low prices, nothing is being re-stocked, and everything must go. Stock levels are probably wrong here and there and this website will probably be gone in a few months.

If you had told me 18 years ago when my e-commerce journey began that I'd be writing a farewell address on an adult website you would have been presented with my “What the hell?” face.

However, that day has come. I'm really hoping that this will be the very last time I ever type the words "nylon", "stretch" and "sexy" in the same sentence ever again. That is something to celebrate. This experience has been totally laborious. If you're thinking of taking it on I sincerely advise you not to.

In your late 20's, you know you're not invincible but you could have potential, and you have energy and ambition, that's a fabulous time. I could just say it didn't work out but I feel I owe it to all of you, and to myself to say a meaningful good bye, and explain some things and pass on some information that I feel should be known. So many of my suppliers and other retailers have gone, vanished with no or very few words, but to me the truth is more important than a hushed departure.

This business is very very hard to maintain. Sure there are ways to make it easy, you can drop ship stock and download a data feed from your supplier and import it straight in to a readymade shopping website, could probably set something like this shop up in a few hours. Many have tried, most have failed. This site is different. This site has actual stock. I know the products, they are right here; I have them to hand and can send you additional pictures and information about them. I can feel how stretchy or see-through they are or how close the colour is to the picture and give you an informed description of quality and value. Integrity is important to me.

This website did much better than I thought it would in the beginning and it quickly developed into a thriving business. While it was developing I had a number of life experiences, as we all do.

In its first year, this website started selling costumes. Pulling trolleys full of parcels to the post office, queueing for over an hour to post them and sometimes breast feeding in that queue, unpacking boxes full of costumes while my post-natal stitches were healing was a difficult thing to do and I'm very proud of myself for doing it.

One year in. As the business grew, being continuously phoned and emailed about orders while also being screamed at by a restless baby and snarled at by a teenager was a difficult thing to do and I'm proud of myself for doing it. Sterling crashes. A major supplier goes bust; another supplier limits their distribution chain, disrupting my access to important stock. Things feel very up in the air. Cataloguing thousands upon thousands of products long into the night; typing the same compositions over and over again. Close view editing several sickeningly perfectly airbrushed photos for each product while I visually resemble a six month old potato.

Two years in. As the business continues to grow, online price comparison becomes a thing and VAT registration becomes a necessity. Another beautiful boy is born. The business kept me so busy I didn't even know he was hiding in there for the first 4 months of the pregnancy. Being surprisingly pregnant, responsible for managing, buying and accounting for 3k-10k worth of stock a week, approx. 30-50 sales a day, returns and enquiries while also managing the family finances and finding a new home when the rent went up by 50% was a difficult thing to do and I'm proud of myself for doing it. Reading streams of angry messages for not answering an email within an hour because I fell asleep feeding the baby, who was also screaming at me and trying to stop my toddler jumping on the wooden floor because the neighbours downstairs are going mental. Meanwhile my teenage daughter comes close to getting in with the wrong crowd, everything is full-on.

Three years in, I’m just about keeping up with the business. Getting Valentine's Day orders out just in time one hour after having a colposcopy was a very difficult thing to do, and I did it, although I probably shouldn't have. Even though there were people who could have helped me, they chose to be consumed by their own lives and live off the profits instead. Advising a transvestite customer on the best stockings to wear while the father of my sons is busy scouring dating sites in his neon pink tights, wig and mini skirt preparing to meet men and leave me to start his new life as a woman was an immensely massively difficult thing to do and although I did manage it for some time, after a while, I couldn't do it anymore. At this point, the business phone goes to voicemail only and emails are rarely answered unless they are very important. The currency exchange does not recover from the financial crash, suppliers and manufacturers raise their prices and shipping companies impose tariffs, everything gets more expensive and here I am blogging about how best to look irresistible in skimpy outfits while my eyes haven’t rested for so long they've stopped processing the colour yellow.

Four years in. Separate plus size images become a thing, except the models are not really plus sized. The effect this might have on a customer's self-esteem is a concern for me and causes a personal moral imbalance but I do what needs to be done to provide for my family. I know that I could fix that imbalance by getting photos taken on proper plus sized models but the fee for it would be huge and would have to be added to product prices. The internet is price comparison driven, if the prices go up, the sales go down and if sales go down the rent doesn't get paid. I ask a photographer about it and talks begin but it turns out he’s just hitting on me. Business social media accounts become a thing but adult content is not welcomed, I have over 60k customers and how many of them want to talk about buying from here on their social media feeds or on ours? Yep, none of them and I don't blame them. Search engines begin to restrict visibility of adult websites and products (and rightly so). Quite a lot of similar websites disappear and so do some suppliers. I try to encourage customers to leave genuine reviews which proves almost impossible because the whole point of a discreet online purchase is discretion and very quickly find out that most online review opinions on similar websites are written by staff of the companies themselves or by customers and friends in exchange for free products (please don't tell me you think that lengthy blog post you read on another website about how much Maureen loved her backless knickers was a genuine article did you? Real customers only take the time to publish significant, keyword rich feedback about products like this and give away their identity when they're either a) thoroughly pissed off and want to vent and blame someone, or b) being paid or given an incentive to write an optimised review in a positive light).

Five years in. Continuously working when it was possible to do so despite now being a single parent of three and one of those children, who, even now, due to a neurological condition finds it difficult eat, sleep and stay in school was a very difficult thing to do and I will always hope I got the balance right. Brexit begins to be a thing. A well-known magazine contacts me to swap advertising for products, I send the products, quite a lot of them, and the advertising doesn’t happen, the magazine contact disappears.

Continue that for three more years. Continue that while the world of ecommerce changes at a lightning pace and I'm just barely holding on. Continue that and mix it with the wonderful heart-warming feeling when a long term customer returns, mix this with that moment one of my major suppliers contacts me to say that one of their other customers has complained about my prices being too low and they can't compete then finding out (thank you companies house) that the customer is in fact the supplier themselves and their shiny new retail website is being run by a director of theirs that I've worked with the entire time this business has been running. Mix that with trying to find family friendly ways to be an adult business on the fickle circus that is social media and not even get any backing from the manufacturers and suppliers I am effectively promoting, just a bunch of dummy accounts who want freebies. Mix that with making contacts with potential social media influencers, because that's the thing to do now, who I quickly realise are younger than my daughter and I'm just not comfortable with that even if they are. I know what life can throw at you and how these things can affect a person later on in life. Another moral imbalance, but this time I go with my gut and say no. My concern for the effect all this mass production and fast fashion has on the planet becomes a thing.

Eight years in. Consider not continuing it and start to sell everything off, which is also hard work, while being a parent and re-training towards a career that actually means something and will help people. Starting again while closing the business and personally going through what I can best describe as a full-on emotional breakdown that carries on for about eighteen months. Like I said, things come back and effect you.

Nine years in. It’s over. Decision made, I'm out of this business.

And here we are. I've had years of customers and critics telling me how this site should be run, what I'm doing wrong and how they would do it better so now I'm telling all of you without reproach that actually I did my best and if you don't like it, it’s tough. You got a good deal from me and you were served by someone who cared, probably a bit too much sometimes. I took a lot of the criticism you gave me personally because this business was me, and I put everything left of me that wasn't looking after someone else into it. Some of you were incredibly cruel to me. One of you thought that reducing me to shaking and tears on the phone three times in less than an hour over a dent in a box wasn’t enough so you chose to also be abusive by email in between phone calls. My son still remembers that, he saw what you did to me, he talks about it occasionally, and he worries about it, still, to this day. Well done for that, what a big man you are. I left friends behind (who I've now started reconnecting with) I left personal pleasures behind (which I'm now starting to enjoy again), I sacrificed every spare minute of my time for this business. It didn't work out and I'm glad it didn't.

As for me personally, someone came into my life. This person is really completely utterly amazing, we connect on every level and he just prefers me naked. There is no better compliment a woman can have and I am the proud owner of that compliment, that compliment makes me feel a million times better than any mass produced nylon garment ever will. Someone loves me despite all this, despite starting all over again at my age, this person is ok with just getting by because it is our happiness and our love that enriches us. It is the best happiness and most perfect love I have ever, ever had.

I leave you now with my head held high, knowing I did everything I could, everything I was prepared to do but not beyond a moral boundary. I did the responsible thing. How many business owners can honestly say that? I can and I’m proud of that.

To the customers who were with me from the start and are still here now, I wish you a very fond farewell, good health and happiness always. To Saeed and Sarah, outstanding contacts from my suppliers in the US, Roma and Elegant Moments, thank you so incredibly much from the bottom of my heart for your friendship and unfaltering service, it was a pleasure. I wish you every success and an abundance of joy in your lives.

Everything is on sale at ridiculously low prices, nothing is being re-stocked, and everything must go. Stock levels are probably wrong here and there and this website will probably be gone in a few months.

I leave with no debt, no doubt and no regret. Goodbye Dreamgirl shopping