Every family business starts out with a plan and it is always great to find new family firms with an entrepreneurial story that has grown into something special. Paul Andrews spoke to Deepesh Vishaldeep, the second generation now working in this retail family business to find out more.
When was the business founded?
The business began in the 1970’s in the garment manufacturing trade. My parents used to make clothes for larger retailers such as BHS and C&A.
What does it do?
We started off in women’s fashion clothes and to this day we still have a retail shop in East London which we opened in the early 90’s. This was started by both of my parents and my brother and I joined in and around 2004. since joining the business has expanded into different sectors although the business remains family owned. Today we operate from 4 different retail shops (all on the same road and few doors apart).
Each shop has a different purpose – a Womens Fashion Store, a Gift Shop, a Cookware Shop and a shop specialising in Indian spices. We also operate an ecommerce business selling cookware items and a newly established digital marketing business too.
What generation are you and what are your first memories of the family business?
I am one of the second generation, and the first memories of the family business would be helping my parents at our garment factory in Whitechapel when I was around 10 years old – I remember watching my parents work hard, seven days a week.
Are there any other family members working in the business?
Yes, there are four of us – my Mum, Dad, brother and myself.
How important was the business in your life as you grew up?
Growing up the family business was our life, and it still is, although we as a family have been able to take time away from the business as we’ve grown. However, the importance of working around the business has always been there, it’s like our forever little baby and because it is family owned, we are in charge of the day to day operations.
We do have staff too but the business isn’t ever left only to our staff as we have been serving the community for many years and our customers have been a major part of our history and it is the personalised service from us as a family that has made, and continues to make a difference.
What was your journey into the family business and what do you do now?
I graduated in 2004 with a 1st class BA Honours degree and whilst I was studying at university I also worked at Currys (Dixons group). I worked there for almost 7 years, started working in the warehouse, taking deliveries in etc, then worked my way up to a salesman on the shop floor. I did really well selling and was quickly promoted to senior sales, then department manager and then became a trainee store manager.
When I graduated from university I wanted to join the family business with plans to help it to expand. There was a shop vacant a few doors away from my parents, and with the help of mum and dad we acquired a 40-year-old running gift shop. I started my own business from there. 7 years into the business we needed more space, so we bought retail space down the road totalling approx. 4000spft whilst the other two shops continued trading.
As a second generation business, what has helped your firm stand the test of time?
I think it is definitely down to financial and moral support from our parents, their experience and guidance that has been the backbone of our business. We are all in it together, be it in our own departments but we are able to support each other when needed.
What values are important to the family and the business?
Honesty in dealing with suppliers and customers, hard work and no ‘get rich quick’ tactics! My parents still add value, be it old school values but these are important and probably will be passed on to the next generation.
Do you build the family ownership into the marketing and brand narrative and if so, how?
Not intentionally but being around for decades and dealing with the same customers and their next generations, the family ownership is definitely why people come to us, they’ve known us and come back for that reason.
What do you think makes working in a family business special?
It can be special but it doesn’t work for everyone. Luckily it has been special for us, we have grown and continue to grow the family business and are fortunate to have parents that are on the same wavelength. Thankfully disagreements are very rare, and it gives us time together as a family during the day.
Are there any disadvantages associated with working in a family business?
As mentioned above, disagreements can be a disadvantage and work pressure can be taken home but luckily our disagreements are minimal, and we try not to discuss work at home.
Have you taken any particular steps in terms of governance to help protect the business for the future?
We have been moving with the times and have had a web presence for the last 12 years. We were one of the first businesses to supply Ebay and Amazon with daily deals. We have our own brand of cookware products under Ignite Cookware so we have taken steps to make sure the business will still be standing for the next generation – if they choose to continue it.
Our focus remains on the online side and during the lockdown’s growth was 12 fold on the online side and it was exciting to see the potential – I even completed my professional diploma in digital marketing to help me understand the marketing side of the online business. I continue to implement this and have seen some great results. I have also set up my own digital marketing business to help others grow online. I am also a part of Digital Boost (a charity) where I help people with a 1hr free consultation on the areas they need help in within digital marketing.
Is there a next generation in the wings?
There is but my son is only 4 so who nots what the future will bring!
What advice would you give to anyone in the next generation considering joining their family firm?
Be in it for the long run, keep work life and family life separate and most importantly listen to the more senior members – it doesn’t mean they are always right but there is always an in-between!
If you could talk to your younger self before you joined the business, what would you say?
Should have gone on a world tour before or taken a year out after graduating! I am happy with every aspect of my life within the family business, we can say it was destiny and it was always going to be different to working for someone. My younger self saw the family business as routine, saw my parents work long hours and long days without a break, that was the norm then but luckily today we are able to spend time away from the business.
If you could sum up the family business in three words, what would they be?
Vibrant, Futureproof, Hard work.
Find out more by visiting www.ignitecookware.com