Fall In Love With Ideas on Paper

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Located on the cobbled side street of Cobden Chambers, Ideas on Paper is providing the local community with high quality and unique books, magazines and stationary items. In an intimate room on the first floor you will find Alex Smith perched on his stool ready to greet any customer coming in to browse or chat.

After growing up in Nottingham, Alex moved to London to study business with retail marketing and  to pursue a career in management for the likes of Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, where he worked on both the shop floor and in the head offices. With the dream of always wanting to open his own store selling magazines, Alex began to sell them from the drawer of his counter in Hugo Boss - but don't tell anyone!

The experience he has gained over the years led him back to Nottingham with hopes of beginning his new adventure, after working for his brother and selling shares on the stock market there was time for change on the horizon. His great love for books and materials led Alex to become passionate about the love of writing and interesting articles that are not found in the average chain bookstore. By combining his luxury retail and marketing knowledge with his knowledge of independent publishers Alex was able to produce a plan for a local book store specialising in the bold and beautiful world of art and text combined.

In 2013, Alex entered in the Nottingham City Council Inspiring Retail competition but sadly did not win. This spurred on his ambition to open the store even more to create a space for the local community to enjoy and benefit from. His experience in retail gave him the knowledge to know that a retail store in Nottingham would not be a wise decision; he also knew this would be an unappealing  project to stay focused on. The book store is a way for him to be unique and take the opportunity to be located in a growing area full of small businesses, bring ideas back to Nottingham and to also be a catalyst for change and positive experiences in the city.

As all start up entrepreneurs are aware it is not easy to find funding and progress into the market at the right time for you. Alex was able to stay confident and positive in order to set his mind to achieving his goals and was lucky enough to be introduced to Cobden Chambers who have been able to provide further support. Social media has proven really useful to the business and has been a great tool to promote the company in a cost effective manner as the only cost is the time taken to continuously produce material. With a lot of students living in Nottingham Alex's target market are the younger generations and therefore he can use Instagram in a successful way to target these customers.

When asked about the world of blogging Alex commented that he believes the community to be a phenomenon in the twenty first century of marketing and content generation. There is no longer a requirement to gain permission before writing a post and therefore everyone is able to voice their opinion on any topic they feel passionate about. This doesn't mean all blogs are good but the concept of blogging is useful and benefits businesses greatly.

I spoke more with Alex about the environment of social media and blogging where he began to discuss his views of using the platforms as a way to communicate and build a conversation rather than having a one sided advertisement in the forms of traditional marketing. All businesses and individuals can see the opinions of customers and can interact with them whilst indirectly pushing advertising messages in a more discreet way. Brands and individuals have to be ready to communicate with each other and build a genuine conversation in order to make social media effective. 

In order to generate inspiration Alex looks at his day to day deliveries of new products he can Tweet about or post on Instagram for customers to see what is new in stock and request a copy to be held for them. He is also able to take requests and recommendations through his platforms and build a more personal relationship with his returning customers. Alex likes to stimulate conversations with individuals and local businesses to generate more sales but to also generate more interest in the city of Nottingham and for surrounding businesses. 

So what are the plans for Ideas on Paper in 2015? 

Alex is a very committed citizen to Nottingham and advocates the growth and need of small businesses. His aims are to open a larger store in the city where he can provide a coffee shop service alongside his bookstore to create a more comfortable environment for all of his customers. If he had the time he would also write a blog himself however, working 7 days a week as the only employee, it can be difficult to find the time. Local universities, such as Nottingham Trent University, are also looking to Alex for work placements in the business which will benefit his awareness in the city as more students will become aware of the store and also prospective customers linked with the university.

For bloggers, entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners Alex's top recommendations are to do more of what you love because you will be more effective if you love doing it; do what you believe in and care about because people will know if you are not genuine and to start now and grow organically.

Ideas on Paper, Cobden Chambers, Pelham Street, NG1 2ED

Twitter and Instagram: Ideas_on_Paper 

Please let me know if you enjoyed this interview, comment and share! Thank you to Alex for your time during the interview!

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