A Southport woman launched her own sweet shop business in lockdown and now has 10,000 followers on Instagram.
Victoria Goulbourne, 27, decided to create her own pick and mix boxes after being forced to change up her career in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to lockdown, Victoria was based in the Middle East while flying for Emirates but returned home to Birkdale, Southport when she was no longer able to work.
After looking for a decent pick and mix similar to those available when she was a child and struggling to find one, Victoria decided to create her own with the help of her boyfriend.
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Speaking to the ECHO, Victoria said: “During lockdown, me and my boyfriend were trying to find somewhere that did good pick and mixes. I remember being a kid and being spoilt for choice but we couldn’t find any in our local area that did what we were after.
“I love Instagram and I love things looking good on social media and we noticed no one was really doing that – we saw sweet shops and businesses but none of them were sharing really aesthetically pleasing photos of their sweets.”
Victoria’s business – The Sweet Life UK – offers a range of pick and mix sweet boxes. The company also has vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and halal boxes available and orders can be customised and personalised.
She added: “People love posting food on Instagram and we wanted to go down that avenue of getting something that was really Insta-worthy. We wanted it to be something people wanted to take a photo of and share them with their friends and family.
“We started posting Instagram reels and we’ve got one that’s up to 1.7million views – it’s put our brand into a different market now, we’ve got international customers now who want to get their hands on our pick and mixes and I do think that’s down to our social media and how we present things in that aesthetically pleasing way.”
Victoria is responsible for managing @thesweetlife_uk’s Instagram page and has focused on building the brand and ensuring it reaches a wider audience, with the page recently hitting 10,000 followers.
She said: “People love seeing behind the scenes and how a product comes together, so the Reels of us making the boxes show that and give people insight into the behind the scenes.”
Of her hopes for the future of the business, Victoria said: “We’ve got so many plans for the future now and we’ve just taken on a warehouse, we’ve got a studio now where we’re taking all the pictures and shooting the Reels.
“We’re doing a lot of behind the scenes videos and we’re hoping at the end of lockdown that we’ll be to do events because we’ve had a lot people contacting us about parties and weddings.
“We want to make sure everything looks ‘wow’ and we can do party favours and wedding favours. It’s really taken off and it’s definitely full time, 24/7.
“It’s so much fun, I love creating the content, that’s what I’m really passionate about and to get the good traction from Instagram has been a big help in growing the business.
“When we first started, we never ever thought it would be the way it is – we’ve grown so quickly.
“There was obviously a huge gap in the market and we’ve given people what they want to see on Instagram. A lot of bigger companies have been tagging us and that’s been a huge help, too.
“At the start, there were teething issues with packaging while we figured stuff out but we’ve sorted that and we were definitely taken aback by how quick the success came.”
The business marks a change from Victoria’s pre-lockdown job with Emirates, but her family and friends have been fully supportive of the career switch up.
Victoria added: “It’s a massive career change, but my family have been so supportive – they love being creative so they’ve been supporting us and helping us out. We had a busy week on Valentine’s week which we didn’t expect at all and weren’t really prepared to deal with, it was a massive shock so they jumped on board and helped us get all our orders out on time.”
The response from social media users has left Victoria stunned. She said: “We’ve been blown away by the response – it’s literally been three and a half months and it’s just grown so fast.”
Of her hopes for the future, Victoria said: “We would love to open up shops and keep everything aesthetic and not be like your average pick and mix, we want to keep the presentation there and have it be somewhere people want to be and with products they want to look at.
“The dream would be to open up shops around the UK.”