Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
When Sally and John Robinson were looking for new ways to diversify on their farm near Helmsley, North Yorkshire, Sally came up with the idea of selling bras and lingerie on the internet and, in 1999, she launched the wonderfully-named ‘Ample Bosom’. It was certainly one of the more unusual farm diversification projects that we visited on this journey!
Initially, they tried to go down the more traditional B&B and holiday cottage route, but as her two sons got older she was looking for a new challenge. A local, technologically-minded friend was looking on the internet for a bra to get married in and when, as Sally puts it, all she could find was plastic or feathery ones with tassels on or holes in them, she turned to Sally knowing that she was looking for something new to do and suggested she started selling bras on the internet.
Having managed to get six suppliers on board, and with a loan from her local bank manager and an EEC diversification grant, she converted an old cow shed into an office, bought a mailing list and sent out her first paper catalogue in September 1999. A couple of months later and she was ready to launch her first website.
She had spotted a gap in the market for properly fitted, quality bras for normal women of all sizes and, recognising the importance of her repeat customers and how time-consuming bra shopping can be, she kept a history of people’s orders so they could reorder the same or similar items without any fuss.
As the popularity of her service has grown, so have her premises, the number of suppliers and staff, and the range of bras and accessories she stocks. She now uses about 30 suppliers, stocks more than 177 different bra sizes and employs around a dozen members of staff, all of whom have to muck in wherever they are needed, whether that is packing in the warehouse or cleaning the holiday cottages. People buy her bras from all over the world and she has attracted an incredible amount of media attention, not only because she is a success story, but also because she is a farmer’s wife who has thrived in an industry where many other more likely internet entrepreneurs have failed. This is testament to her hard work, determination and wonderful no-nonsense personality, and she is an inspiration to many.
Lucy, Sally and Emma
For more information, call 01439 798388 or visit the Ample Bosom website.