Natasha Clarke - Buffalo Boutique
Cardiff University Psychology graduate Natasha Clarke’s business career began by identifying a niche in the Cardiff vintage market. “There weren’t many really good shops in Cardiff for vintage, and they didn’t offer much variety in terms of new stock”, she explains. Whilst studying, Natasha decided to take advantage of this need and create a vintage boutique market with a difference. “The idea was to create a vintage boutique clothing event for guys and girls, selling vintage and handmade clothing and accessories, but combined with a great night out, with dj’s, cocktail offers and cupcakes”, she explains.
Buffalo Boutique is a successful event held throughout the year at Buffalo Bar in Cardiff, self-funded by Natasha and her student loan. “Once my first event kicked off, I used the profits to fund the next event”, she explains. Natasha knew the first event would need extensive marketing, flyers and posters to attract customers. “A lot went into the first one, but luckily it paid off and I was able to put that into the others”, she says.
Buffalo Bar, with its quirky décor and style, has always been an inspiration to Natasha. “I sent them an email with my idea and they were really positive about it, and even helped me find the right DJ’s for the event”, she explains. Natasha then contacted shops and stalls, and after the first event, they began to contact her. Social media was a great help for Natasha, and she soon discovered that Facebook was the perfect tool for targeting the student market. “I created a group, and myself and Buffalo invited thousands of friends”, she explains. This, alongside posters, leaflets and marketing, gained her the customers she needed for a successful event.
It wasn’t until the third event that Natasha took a step back and realised her achievements. “The place was heaving”, she says. “Everyone was having a really good night out and it was amazing – it was exactly what I wanted.”
Natasha had already established the business when she sought help from Student Enterprise. “They were so helpful, it was great to have that business knowledge on hand and I wish I’d known about it sooner!” she says.
As with any business, there were hurdles along the way, and Natasha found that negotiating drinks prices was an issue. Knowing that enticing drinks offers would attract more students, Natasha had to convince Buffalo Bar to drop their prices for the events. “Buffalo loved the idea of the Boutique, but weren’t moving their drinks offers”, Natasha explains. “I just had to really sell it; I had to be confident on numbers and the popularity.” Having established a relationship of trust, Buffalo agreed on the prices Natasha wanted. “We did a Christmas special once and we had the whole bar, upstairs and down”, she says. “That was great, as it was clear by then I had earned their trust and was able to expand the business.”
Unfortunately for Natasha, third year commitments forced her to pass the business on. “It would have been a shame to lose such a successful event, so I passed it on to one of the stall owners”, she explains. Buffalo Boutique is still a success today, and although at first Natasha was apprehensive about the changes made, she is proud that her idea is still going strong. “Now there are so many similar events happening in Cardiff, that I think the changes that have been made will make it really successful”, she says. “It’s great to see it carrying on.”
Dates of upcoming Buffalo Boutique events can be found at: www.buffalocardiff.com