I first discovered Finale Shoes (and became a fan instantly!) when I launched a small experiment into social media engagement. Faye reached and was interested, from there we got chatting and gave Faye some tips including the use of video, I then saw Faye using video in Instagram stories and it was amazing! You instantly got to know her and her Mam who owns the shop and how their family business was a buzz of community spirit in Corbridge through various events. Her interactive Instagram Stories not only allowed you to see an insight into their business but understand more of their products on for sale, how to style the shoes, what accessories to use and how to purchase. From viewing their videos you felt like you were talking to a friend and getting a fashion consultation, and that's the beauty of video on Instagram. The platform allows you to go the extra mile easily and give the overall customer experience you'd have offline, online.
It was Faye that inspired me to start making videos and give me confidence myself to feature more BTS of my business and make my IG fun instead of the corporate approach I had been taking.
Here is my interview with Faye, to help you get to know Finale Shoes and Accessories, the business she runs with her Mam and how she swapped her career in criminal law to become a businesswoman. If you'd like to visit the shop in person you can view more of their opening times here When your shop is open in Corbridge, what can people expect when they walk in?
Firstly everyone is met with a smile and a hello when they walk in, it's a smallish shop and we want everyone to feel comfortable and welcome from the moment they come through our door (which weather permitting is often open too!) we very much believe shopping should be a fun experience, I mean who doesn't love buying shoes or handbags!
Our style of customer service is a bit different from what we may have become used to on the high street or in large stores, we aim to offer a personal shopper experience and we always speak to everyone in the shop.
People often have an idea of what they might be looking for and we can show them possible styles they might like to try or they may have an outfit that needs a perfect pair of shoes for it.
Others might just want to have a wander and that's fine too, we make sure they know we are there when they want any sizes or if they have any questions. Can people still buy online?
Yes they can, our website is fully operational and we have been doing a variety of things to make sure our customers get their shoe fix.
We are posting things out to people using our local post office where we have a drop and go facility, dropping local pairs off when we are out walking or even cycling and operating a click and collect service from the doorstep of the shop.
People have been chatting to us on the phone, email, and on our social media if they need any help or sizing advice and it has worked well while we have had to be closed. How did you come about owning a footwear store?
My mum (the boss) has always worked in fashion, originally party plan (way back when it was the done thing!), then for clothing companies both mail order and in stores. When the shop came up for sale in Corbridge she spotted it and decided to give it a go as it was always her dream to have her own shop.
Initially, she thought it would be clothing but the shoe shop opportunity presented itself at the right time, that was 15 years ago and she loves her job so much, she wouldn't swap it for anything in the world!
I joined the business about 6 years ago as it had continued to grow and mum and the part-time staff we had just didn't have enough hours in the day to do everything, she also wanted to take it from pen and paper to an electronic stock system etc as it was becoming difficult to manage the volume of stock.
I wanted to take a break from my career in the criminal justice system and this seemed like a great chance to work with mum and do something I loved, her love of fashion has always been part of my life and I grew up around it so it became a real shared passion we had. We thought it may be temporary at first as I had loved my career and planned to return to it, some people also worried we might get on each other's nerves but we loved it from day one and have never looked back, I cannot imagine doing anything else now! We never argue (She is still the boss!) and seem to really compliment each other with our skill sets so it really is a dream team and our dream job! I know how lucky I am and never take this for granted, I am forever thanking my lucky stars! What is your favourite thing about having a store in Corbridge?
The community and the location. We work together as a community and have done for many years now, this is extra work on top of running a business but is crucial for the village to continue to be one of the best places to shop and visit.
We are fortunate to have some very talented people in the village, many wonderful shops and of course the Northumberland countryside around us, we work together to promote this and keep Corrbdge firmly on the map. It is also fabulous to have a shop in this type of place where you can chat with customers when they come in, offer great service and get to know people - I guess it is how we used to shop in days gone by and I really believe it is what people want from their shopping experience again even if they order online they want it to be a personalised service and to feel important and valued. For those that haven't visited Corbridge yet, what are your top three places to visit/do in the town?
Well, firstly I know this very good shoe shop... No, seriously you are spoilt for choice in Corbridge, there is nowhere you would be disappointed. If you forced me to choose I would say pop to the cookshop - I defy anyone to go in there and come out without something they never even realised they needed, I also love Kirsty Taylor Jewellery, her shop is super stylish and I always see something I like - she has a huge variety of price points so it has got something for every budget.
Lastly, rest your tired shopping legs and have tea at Il Piccolo, I would recommend one of Emanuele's Sicilian specials, ask Pam for a glass of something wonderful to drink and of course a delicious dessert for afterwards. You're active on social media especially Instagram, as a small business how do you use the platform to achieve your online goals?
My goal with our social media is to engage with people; my customers, potential new customers, and to spread the Finale shoe love around. I use it to keep people posted about what is happening in the shop, chat to them like I would if they were in Finale and also show some behind the scenes stuff, I am really nosy so figure others might be too! I really like the fact we have social media I think it is a great opportunity to expand on the customer experience and keep in touch with people, I definitely don't view it as just a sales channel. I want people to get to know me if they go on my social media and to know what they see on there is just an extension of what Finale is, we are all chatterboxes in Finale, Instagram is another way to chat with people so we embrace it and enjoy it. What's your favourite Instagram feature?
Stories, these let me show lots more than I would be able to if I had to create posts for everything as I just don't have the time for that. They are short and easy to do and can capture a moment, they are really human and bring a bit of fun and real-life to the relationship you have with your followers. I think they will always be my favourite feature. A note from Faye in terms of the re-opening and how the store is keeping safe " We re-opened on 15th June and we were so pleased to have the windows full of gorgeous shoes and handbags and the door wide open to welcome customers in. In fact, we try to keep the door as much as we can which makes it easier for customers to see how many people are already in the shop and lets lots of fresh air in too. The maximum number of people we are allowing in at the moment is 2 but we have two lovely window displays for people to admire if they have to wait outside. Once inside we have hand sanitiser to use at the entrance and also disposable gloves available if people would like to use these while shopping. If someone would like to try anything on we have disposable socks and seating set up that allows 2m between customers.
Once you have decided on your shoes or handbag we have a screen at the till and sanitiser for staff to use while we pack up your purchases. Staff have visors and masks to wear if and when needed and we can offer appointments outside of our current opening hours if someone would prefer to shop alone or needs extra support.
The first few days have gone really well, everyone is being really sensible, very understanding and patient with the changes we have had to make and just glad to be able to safely shop and enjoy our products I think. We have reduced our opening hours to 10am-3pm to allow us to offer appointment after these hours and to allow extra cleaning time. The lovely comments in-store and on social media by customers have been amazing, I feel people really want to show their support to independents and this is so much appreciated. I have also been told many times this week that people are finding shopping local and in smaller shops a better and safer way to shop than in the larger shops and shopping centres. " Thank you so much to Faye and her mam for letting me feature their business story! If you haven't checked out Finale Shoes I highly suggest you do. You can view their website here and their Instagram here