10 minutes with Mandy Brown
Getting to know our Independent Businesses in Sunderland
Owner - Mandy Brown
Business - Harrison and Brown Furniture
Description - An Independent Furniture Store; selling sofas, beds, dining furniture bedroom furniture pictures mirrors and much more. Based across 5 floors.
What inspired you to start your business?
I don't know if I would have ever started my own business, but circumstances changed. I worked for the original company for around 13 years, and one of the owners decided to move to America to start a furniture business over there. As there were no plans for the store when he left, I decided to start Harrison & Brown Furniture.
Do you still feel the same way?
I am nearly at the end of my 3rd year. There have been ups and downs, no one could have predicted when the beast from the east arrived or having to close due to the Coronavirus. But I have a good team around me and our customers regularly telling us how excellent our service has been, This it makes it all worthwhile, and I am very proud of our achievements.
How well did you manage your initial start-up?
I was fortunate! I got terrific support from manufacturers who I had known for a long, long time. It goes to show that relationships with your suppliers are crucial, as they helped with stock and payment plans etc.
How do you personally define business success?
For me, business success is the satisfaction I get from providing brilliant service to our customers.
What marketing tools do you use?
We use the local press, local radio and social media to reach our customers. Plus you can't beat meaningful customer engagement - it's means everything to me. We like to make sure each customer's experience is a positive one.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change?
I honestly do not think I would change anything.
Which other 'insunderland' businesses do you admire?
Now that's a hard one, we are so lucky that there are some fabulous independent businesses in Sunderland. I do enjoy seeing what offers they are bringing to the city.
What quick piece of advice would you offer to someone starting out?
Believe in yourself, don't be afraid to ask for help or advice and don't put it off.