The Style Attic: Meet the Leeds woman who turned a shop in her attic into a thriving business
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The idea of owning her own shop had appealed to the now mum-of-two for a number of reasons, including her love for fashion, and Leigh made her dreams a reality within her own home in 2015.
She turned to Facebook to grow her shop, The Style Attic, as customers came through her house to purchase a range of clothes.
The 36-year-old told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “People used to come, and then come again, and come again with a friend and then it started to slowly, but surely, snowball.
“It probably took about a year for it to really gain momentum.
"Thinking back now, it was really quite random – but I think the randomness of it all is what kept people coming.
"If I had got a loan and a shop, I don’t think it would have worked.”
The Style Attic’s presence on Facebook grew and Leigh slowly established a loyal customer base.
Her Facebook page has now more than 34,000 followers.
During the early stages of her business, Leigh was caring for her newborn, Edie, who was born prematurely at 25 weeks and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
Owning her own shop allowed Leigh to set the opening hours around Edie’s hospital appointments.
“I just felt like I was losing myself a little bit,” Leigh said.
“Becoming a new mum and it was all very Edie-focussed which it needed to be but I just felt like I was losing who I was.
"I really wanted to work. I don't want to sacrifice one for the other.”
Leigh had asked her previous employer, a major fashion retailer, if she could work reduced hours to take care of Edie’s needs but every request was denied.
Leigh added: “If I hadn’t have had such a crappy time at work, I wouldn’t have had the drive to open my own shop.
“Up until being pregnant, I had a great time, I was progressing, the numbers were up, everything was great.
"Then, I found out I was pregnant and I was like public enemy number one.
"Work got really hard. They were making my life really hard.
“I felt a little bit backed into a corner, my current job are not being helpful and I don’t want to not do it so you know what?
"I’ll just do it and if it doesn’t work, that’s fine. Luckily for us, it worked."
In 2017, Leigh found out she was pregnant with her second child – which she said had “forced her hand a little bit” and pushed her to rent a shop.
The women who run the shop are family and friends, most of whom have children themselves and cannot commit to full-time hours but take on shifts when they can.
“We know family comes first and we work around family,” Leigh said.
"I am so grateful that we are family run.
"If something had happened with Edie, I know that in those times, I could spend all my time with Edie and all that needs to be done will be done by them.
"It’s just a given and if it were to ever happen to them, we would all do the same.”
The greatest challenges for the company came during Covid, which had a significant emotional toll on Leigh.
She said: “There were times where i was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore, we will just shut the shop and have a break’.”
Leigh knew that wasn’t an option and changed her strategy – by launching a website – which she said was “a million percent the best thing I have done”.
Leigh added: "We rode the wave of Covid.
"If we didn’t have the website, that would have been it.
“Something forces your hand, and you either give up or you change. You have to constantly pivot.”
Leigh had moved from working in retail during her earlier years to becoming a buyer to owning her successful business.
She said: "You can always change and adapt.
"You will face challenges and bad things will happen.
"All of our wins come from the back of a really hard time.
"If I had Edie at full-term, I know I would still be working full-time for someone else.
"Having Edie changed everything – my personality, my outlook in life, my tolerance to things – it changed everything.”