Beyond Highstreets

We love chatting on and on about unique home businesses and Beyond Brooke is one we love to see flourish.

Jan Hewitt is the owner of Beyond Brooke, an online plus size fashion boutique based on the Isle of Man.  Jan opened the independent women’s wear boutique in early 2012 to fill a gap in the market for quality plus size fashion for err... ‘grown-up’ women.  

Jan’s creativity and eye for detail has given rise to a beautiful collection of plus size dresses and separates.  Her passion for all things pretty is so evident throughout the website - just take a look for yourself.

Jan Hewitt is the owner of Beyond Brooke, an online plus size fashion boutique based on the Isle of Man.

Read how this fashionista become an island hopping international techie nerd in our Members PR!

Starting Up

Jan started the business in March 2012. She tells us ‘Originally, we opened as a retail unit with a website as a kind of ‘side line’ but, it very soon became clear that the online business was by far the strongest.  At the start of 2013 I closed the retail unit and I am now working exclusively on the brands online presence.

Beyond Brooke was opened as a traditional shop to begin with to fill a gap in the market for an independent boutique aimed at women of my own age.  During the quiet times my husband persuaded me to try building a little website and maybe dipping my toe in the world of Facebook - I had very little knowledge of either, but reluctantly gave it a go!

The website was a complete pain and I complained about it to anyone who would listen, never thinking it would come to anything. I only ever saw it as a shop window for my boutique.’

Gaining Momentum

So what changed your mind? Jan continues .... ‘After a couple of months, web orders started to trickle in. I was shocked at first; I didn't really know how to process, package or send them. Customers seemed to really like the website so I decided to get a bit more knowledgeable about online marketing, web design etc.

Reading books, e-books, blogs and articles on the subject really inspired me to push this side of the business. It started to pay-off, online sales started to increase, an online presence started to build and I started to get a bit excited! 

By the end of 2012 I realised that the online side of the business was supporting the shop! This realisation, together with my 5 year old son’s health worries has led me to the difficult decision to relinquish the shop lease and move my business exclusively online.  I must admit, I have never been happier!  I now have time to be a mum and wife, while doing a job I love. ‘ 

The Biggest Challenge 

Jan knows what this was without having to think about it! ‘Without any shadow of a doubt the biggest challenge has been teaching myself the skills to develop and promote my website.  I have gone from Fashionista to Techie Nerd in six months.

I am now far more interested in having the latest widget on my blog than the latest handbag on my arm!  I feel very fortunate to have a job in fashion, and I can now indulge my new found obsession for all things ‘techie’ too.’

Best Part Of The Job

‘I love my collection, whether it’s a £150 satin gown or a £12 scarf, each piece has been handpicked by me because it is very special.  So, each piece reflects my own taste and personality.  When someone else gets excited about my dresses or accessories it is such a great feeling.  When you have put so much of yourself into something it feels amazing when it pays off.’

Inspiration

Jan has a very definite role model. ‘Brooke Elliot is a very glamorous and successful American Jan Hewitt is the owner of Beyond Brooke, an online plus size fashion boutique based on the Isle of Man.actress.  What makes her special is that she is a size 18.  It is amazing to see such a beautiful and self-assured plus size woman in the limelight.  During a magazine interview Brooke was asked how she felt about being a sex symbol and she answered “Oh gosh, I always thought that would be beyond me!”  

So, the name ‘Beyond Brooke’ was born.  Her style and confidence is the inspiration behind our collection; every single item has been individually selected with this in mind.

On a more personal level, I was inspired to fulfil my lifelong dream of opening a boutique by a simple little letter from my stepdad just before he lost his fight with cancer. In it he said ‘You have far more talent than you think…use it to make yourself happy.’

Very wise words which I took to my heart and will never forget.’

All The Good Things 

My husband has been a great support with the business and we discuss most things.  We soon found our roles - John is the money-man, I deal with the pretty stuff!  It works well.

I love the flexibility of homeworking, and take advantage of this by meeting friends or my husband for lunch at least once a week.  This is both a treat, and stops me from becoming a recluse!’

Moving Forward

Where do you see your business going in the future Jan? ‘I am determined to drive my business on and keep pushing Beyond Brooke’s online presence.  I have sourced some really beautiful plus size clothes from a designer in LA, and I will continue to find gorgeous bags, scarves and jewellery to make my online store unique and exciting.  

 

The future looks very bright for us and I can’t wait to embrace it.

 

Advice To Others

Jan laughs: ‘Always keep in mind that nothing ever goes to plan!’

 

 

 

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