A fashion entrepreneur from Swansea overcomes a plethora of challenges to open her dream designer dress shop in Gorseinon.
LouMor Gowns is an exclusive designer shop, supplying dresses and gowns for a variety of occasions, including proms, TV and red-carpet appearances. Managing Director Louise Morgan got in touch with the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service at the beginning of her business journey and has since successfully launched LouMor Gowns, creating 5 new jobs.
- start-up and sustainability advisory support
- £10,000 start-up loan secured
Introduction to business
With 25+ years’ experience working behind the scenes and teaching beauty, make-up, catwalk and fashion across the UK, Louise Morgan decided to set up her own business in Gorseinon, Swansea, stocking and selling high-quality dresses and gowns, hand-picked from designers across the world, including Pia Michi, Jasz Couture, Alyce Paris, Flair Prom and many more.
The business specialises in prom, pageant, cocktail, evening and bridal dresses, as well as TV and stage appearances.
Why did you decide to set up your own business?
With no job and a disabled son, I couldn’t claim anything or get any help, so I hit an all-time low. Despite being very ill, I got a part-time job at a card shop. The owner there had an available empty building, so I approached him and asked whether I could rent it. The answer was yes!
What challenges did you face?
The biggest challenge has been juggling the demands of single handedly running the business along with family commitments and having to struggle financially while I grew the business.
I drew up a business plan and found out what support I could get. However, I couldn’t apply for a start-up grant because I had started working for 16 hours a week. A bond agreement was set up where I got 3 months rent-free to fully decorate the building. This meant that all my money went into renovation costs. I worked 7 days a week, 16 hours a day on my own with no help.
I was able to borrow £2,000 from a friend for the initial purchase of dresses. I was exhausted and mentally drained at times, especially when I had pushed myself too hard to get everything up and running. I missed my 1st season of proms, which resulted in very few sales in the 1st year of trading.
Another challenge was working on a small budget and getting my name known within Swansea. I encountered obstacles preventing me from advertising the business on social media.
Business Wales support
Louise got in touch with Business Wales as she had a business idea to open a designer dress shop in the Swansea area and needed help turning it into a reality.
She attended a start-up workshop and was subsequently supported by a Business Wales Relationship Manager, Angela Williams, who helped with a wide range of start-up issues including sourcing finance, marketing and recruiting for the first time.
- successfully launched
- start-up support
- sustainability support with the layout of the shop
- £10,000 start-up loan secured
- 5 new jobs created
My Business Wales Relationship Manager Angela put me in touch with other people within Business Wales to help me secure a loan and get the business fully off the ground. She provided emotional support when I felt like giving up and gave me positive words of encouragement. She supported me with my marketing and I also attended a workshop on how to start a business.
Future plans and ambitions
In just 18 months, LouMor Gowns has become the largest prom shop in Wales with over 2,000 dresses. I’d projected for this to happen within 5 years and I achieved it in a year and a half.
I have already taken on 4 staff members, one of whom had previously been made redundant after 17 years working in a school, and now helps me run the business.
By 2021, I want to buy and move into my own building.
I am also working towards having my own TV programme as I now have a celebrity following who buy my dresses for stage appearances. I also help them with their hair and make-up, which was part of my previous, 27-year career in Make-up and beauty.
I also strive to provide a happy working environment for my employees, where they all work full time and look forward to coming to work every day. I want to create an environment that is stress free for my employees and customers.
If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.