London fashion designer Coral Turner takes on the world on the web

Coral Turner is a London-based designer who has been creating couture dresses since 2000. She only ever creates one of a kind, bespoke items for women who want to stand out and wear something completely unique.

Her dresses are produced with care to features such as quality, fit, craftsmanship, fabric and attention to detail in mind, and once they’re gone they’re gone, meaning no two of Coral’s garments will ever be the same.

Coral has designed stunning pieces for clients in Canada and France through personal contacts and saw the opportunity to expand her reach to more overseas clients. She spotted the international e-commerce masterclass in London run by Grow Global’s Sarah Carroll for the Make It Global programme and signed up immediately.

Coral liked the fact that the masterclass was all about how to make a small business international and said: “I wanted to be more engaging with clients from the first time they visited my site.”

Mastering international selling online

Coral attended the Make It Global e-commerce masterclass in London to find out how to prepare her e-commerce website for global markets and how to attract clients from around the world. These masterclasses have been designed especially for business owners who trade online and would like to open up their products and services to audiences in other countries. Coral said: “You can be international from wherever you are, but it’s about knowing how to do it. It was explained to me simply step-by-step and that is what I liked about Sarah’s course.”

Thanks to what she learnt in this masterclass, Coral has started to optimise her website for overseas growth. From an SEO perspective, she has updated her website with more keywords to attract clients through both UK and overseas search engines, as advised by Sarah Carroll. Just four days later she got her first client from Dubai, who found her online by searching for ‘independent fashion designers’ and ‘London-based designers’ to design a one of a kind dress for her. Her client came over from Dubai to London for the design consultation and a subsequent fitting and Coral said that her client was very happy with her unique designer dress, as quality bespoke garments are very much part of the culture in Dubai.

After the e-commerce masterclass, Coral said: “The delivery was superb, in plain English and layman’s terms … I came away from that workshop so much more empowered and informed, with my list of things to do starting today, and things to work on such as country pages, which makes so much sense.”

Think global, act local

As well as this, Coral found Sarah’s tips about understanding the cultural elements of international markets useful. It prompted her to research and better understand the needs of her Dubai client to help her build a better professional relationship. Coral added: “I took the time to find out the terminology for the traditional Muslim dress and appropriate dress standards”.

It also made her think about the way she targets different international markets – for instance, she wouldn’t market the same products to the Australian market as the UK market now, owing to the different climates and fashions.

Social success

Sarah’s masterclass also included information about using your social media in other countries, such as finding out which social networking sites are used around the world and what sort of content business owners should use to appeal to different global audiences.

Coral has noticed that since attending the workshop, she has had a significant increase in the number of Facebook likes on her page from fans in the United Arab Emirates, indicating that she has successfully implemented more changes recommended by Sarah, such as using relevant keywords more frequently on her social media channels, as well as on her website.

One-to-one for one of a kind

Since attending the workshop, Coral has worked with Sarah further with a one-to-one session on the Make It Global programme. She is working on the changes Sarah recommended she implement on her website to better optimise it for global audiences, and has been delighted with the results of the changes she has already made.

One of the aspects of the consultation Coral found most useful was the help she received from Sarah about defining her product online. The womenswear and fashion market is very competitive, and since Sarah helped Coral identify her USP, that all of her items are one of a kind and completely unique, she has been able to incorporate this into her online marketing to promote the niche aspect of the dresses she designs. This has been beneficial in countries such as the United Arab Emirates where she learnt that many women like to have clothing made especially for them.

Coral said: “Since the consultation, I’ve learnt to think more like a client than like Coral Turner the businesswoman.” This has been crucial in the terminology she uses online, avoiding convoluted technical terms and selecting terms that real international clients would search for in the countries she felt she would most likely do business with in the future.

Taking on the world

Coral has since been put in touch with a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) International Trade Advisor, Toyin Laketu, with whom she will shortly be working to further improve her export strategy for the United Arab Emirates to secure yet more clients from Dubai and beyond.

Even though it is early days and there is plenty more to implement, Coral’s success following the masterclass and one-to-one consultation demonstrates that companies of any size should be encouraged to take the first steps towards global growth using the web to sell online. She is delighted with the results so far, saying: “Needless to say I thoroughly recommend any small business that is online and wants to expand internationally to go on Sarah’s workshops. I also loved the way that Sarah reviews your website in minute detail to help you get the best from the search engines and improve the traffic to your website.”

Coral sums up her new global mindset: “Coral Turner, international designer, taking on the world one couture dress at a time!”

Take a look at Coral Turner Couture’s website>>

Sectors: Art & Design and Fashion Design
Countries: United Arab Emirates
Topics: Advertising, Business Development, Direct Selling, Operations, Promotion, and Sales & Marketing
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