Based in Cardiff, Anaphase Store is an online shop that stocks clothing for newborns to size 5XL, homeware, cosmetics and accessories - all with unique designs and slogans. Carly Thompsett had been an entrepreneur for three years before she founded Anaphase Store in 2015.
Having battled with dyslexia and dyspraxia, Carly has become a successful business mentor and ambassador, giving back to people who have shared similar struggles within the workplace.
As part of our #WomenInSMEs campaign we chatted to founder Carly about her journey as a successful female entrepreneur.
1. Hi Carly, to start things off, could you tell us about your road to founding Anaphase Store?
I left school at 15 with some GCSE’s, but being dyslexic I was told I probably wouldn’t amount to much anyway - so why bother? I got a job and started at College for 3 years, doing both full-time. I did hair and beauty for the first year and art and design for the last two. I wanted to become a fashion designer - that was my calling in life, my room was always piled high with art books and designs, and I was always making things, I just never knew what to do with them. I did all of this while I became a manager at my job.
I continued working for a total of 6 years but I started to lose interest, so I left to change my career. From that moment on I never really stuck to a job, I bounced around every 6 months from job to job.
I eventually became a mobile carer for the elderly, which I did kind of enjoy because I was always on the move and not stuck in the same place. I then lost my grandad and felt I needed to live my life, so I quit my job, packed my things and I moved up here to Cardiff in 2013.
I met one of my friends soon after moving here and we did talk about my business ideas but I didn’t know where or how to go about it, we had completely different businesses so he could only help me so far. So, I carried on with my day job, until one day I woke up and really wanted to pursue my dream. I bit the bullet and quit my job, I thought if I don’t do it now I won’t ever do it, so I googled ‘how to start a business’, and one of the first results that popped up was The Princes Trust so I called in and explained I wanted to start a business and asked if they could help me.
They explained they had a course called the Enterprise Programme that I could go on and that’ll get me started. So, I accepted, what did I have to lose?
I wasn’t expecting much from the course, but was pleasantly taken back and surprised at how much information I didn’t know I needed to know to run a business; and the depth of the course was amazing. I came out with a new lease on life and excitement for my new journey. I worked with Gemma on my business plan and had weekly meet ups to go through all the information to make sure I had everything I needed before I went to launch group, I passed – it was like Dragons Den and so scary. My adventure began and Anaphase Clothing was born.
I was given a mentor for 2 years to help me all the way with any problems and advice, I have networked a lot doing their courses. For the last few years, The Princes Trust Cymru have held a pop-up shop in St David’s on Mother’s Day weekend, which I have attended for 3 years, speaking to people that have been through the same journey really helped me.
2.That’s amazing, huge congratulations on all you have achieved so far. Can you tell us about any challenges you’ve experienced along the way?
My business was slow to start off with which did dishearten me a little, especially as I thought I’d be a millionaire by the first month. But I wasn’t ready to give up – so I got a full-time job to help with the costs and kept my business going on the side; it has picked up a lot and has been a bumpy ride but I still see potential in it and in myself.
The Trust was always there for me for whatever I needed – willing to put me in contact with other mentors who would help me if mine couldn’t.
3.And any other successes?
Last year I changed the business name to Anaphase Store as I wasn’t just selling clothing now so it made sense to have store to cover the ranges I have. I have developed an online following on my social media accounts, my website gets a lot of attention and I am verified on Facebook. The Tomorrow Store is run by The Prince’s Trust and it also stocks my items on their online platform.
I have also collaborated with 4 other businesses that went through the Enterprise Programme and currently have a fully funded office in Caerphilly thanks to the Welsh government. I have been growing my brand to attract all different types of customers so I can create a bigger collection.
I was a Young Ambassador for The Princes Trust, so I would attend events and do speeches on how the trust has helped me; I am now a volunteer and Business Mentor.
Along the way I have met Paul Mercer - he used to play for Portsmouth Football team, which my dad is a huge fan of. I asked him for an autograph which he was okay with until the whole room saw, rushed over and formed a line. He was stuck there for about 30 minutes! I also met Dan Bigger and Kelly Hoppen. Kelly loved my ‘Don’t touch my hair’ sweatshirts and posted it on her Instagram along with Giovanna Fletcher who posted one of my candles on her Instagram story, which in turn sent a lot of people my way to my site.
I have done an interview on BBC radio Wales along with Radio Cardiff, Heat, Kiss, Kerrang, Planet Rock and Magic.
I met Prince Charles who laughed at my ‘don’t touch my hair’ jumper and told me he loves eBay. At the same event I met Luke Evans, who was really nice and was Tweeting about some ambassadors during the morning.
My business has also been shortlisted for 5 different business awards, we won 3 of them in one day, one of the awards being the Enterprise Award at the Princes Trust Awards.
I was also invited by Buckingham Palace to attend Prince Charles 70th Birthday Celebrations and was listed as one of the 35 Under 35 Top Businesswomen In Wales 2018.
As well as this, I have been mentioned in 63 new papers and magazines articles through my journey and its lovely to hear that people still find me just as inspiring. I now have 2 paid staff members, 3 interns and 8 reps around the country working for Anaphase Store - I feel extremely lucky to have achieved what I have in such a small time.
4.Wow! Those achievements are huge. What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs just starting out in business?
Most people ask me how was I so brave to start up, and leave work etc. but if I didn’t try, I wouldn’t have known that I could do it. I spent my life thinking I wasn’t going to accomplish anything so I didn’t think I’d lose anything if I failed. The advice I give people is don’t live a ‘what if?’ live, then even if you fail you can still know you tried.
5. Thanks Carly. Lastly, why were you drawn to the campaign, can you offer a comment on why you think it's important? A lot of people find my story and the way I started my business inspirational. Some people are in the same boat as I was and just needed the push or belief they could do it too; I feel getting my story out there more people will see it and feel the inspiration to start living their lives for themselves and do what they love.