The Penguin Patrol is ‘In the Spotlight’

After studying graphic design at university, Sophie Gibson went into Digital Marketing where she learnt all about running a website and promoting it and this is where she found her passion for the online world.
Today she is ‘In the Spotlight’ talking all things penguins!
Tell me about your business
I run The Penguin Patrol, a penguin themed gift store selling soft toys, stationary, prints, clothing, baby items and more! I run it alongside a full time job, which is quite a lot of work but I love it 🙂
Have you always loved penguins?
No-one can deny that they are a cute animal, but my passion for these feathered friends started when jokingly asked for a penguin as a present – I got a penguin toy instead, and my collection and love for them has grown from there really! I started an Instagram account for a soft toy that I was bought from The Deep which I called Pici (pea-key) and after a while someone I worked with said ‘you should sell penguins’ and I thought ‘why am I NOT selling penguins’ and started researching where I could source items and what I needed to start my own business.
Who is your target audience and how do you communication with them? 
My target audience is mostly parents and relative buying soft toys for children in their life, and hopefully lots of penguin lovers like myself
What are the main challenges you face?
My main challenge is juggling the business with full time work and life in general. You’ve got to do all the admin work, source and add new products to the site, photograph stuff when needed, go to the post office to dispatch everything, on top of everything else.
What is your USP?
Well, other than the penguin angle I think that supporting UK artists and makers makes my site unique – I’ve found some really amazing items from super talented makers and illustrators like Miss Marple Makes and Abby Cook. I I’ve just launched a penguin themed baby box from items I’ve curated  and these are really cute and a bit different.
Who would be your business mentor and why?
I would absolutely love to be mentored by Theo Pathitis – he’s really big on supporting small business, and his experience in the retail sector would be invaluable.
If you could appear in any publication, what would it be and why?
To be honest, any publication in a magazine right now would be amazing BUT I’d love to be featured in Forbes magazine! I’ve got just under three years to make the 30 under 30 list. Ok, this maybe is a bit of a stretch, but aim for the top right?!
What words of wisdom can you give anyone thinking about starting their own business?
Do your research into what you’re selling, your audience and how you are going to reach them – and make sure it’s all written down so you’ve got a plan! I’d also say make sure you’re aware of the realities of business – if you do something you really are passionate about it makes those late nights doing admin and other non related stuff more bareable, but it’s still a massive slog to get to the fun parts.
How do you keep a work life balance going? Or do you?
I’m really not sure that I do – I’ve started bringing in some outside help with tasks which has started making it a little easier to manage my task list. I would also say that planning your time and tasks really does make a world of difference, but it’s advice that I often forget to actually follow through on myself.
Who or what inspires you? 
The support of my friends and family really gives me strength in what I’m doing, and inspires me to keep on going.
What would be your perfect day off?
Spending a day in the sunshine, visiting a place with penguins (I’d love to go to Antartica or to Boulders Beach) taking pictures with penguins along with Pici Penguin.
 
For more details head over to The Penguin Patrol https://thepenguinpatrol.co.uk and you can follow the penguin adventures at – facebook.com/penguinpatroluk, twitter.com/penguinpatroluk & instagram.com/penguinpatrol

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