Em Ledger on the “heartbreaking decision” to close streetwear and skate store Getbusy

In a world of big macho conglomerates, where profit is king and girls’ stuff is frequently relegated to the realm of after thought, the Getbusy store was a gust of fresh air. A small, indy online retailer that sold our favourite brands, shot on rad-looking girls, with not a faceless mannequin or skinny model in sight. A few weeks ago we heard the super sad news that it was closing down, so we asked founder/buyer/director/brand essence Emma Ledger to tell her side of the story. Here she is:

Back in 2011, after several years of being told womenswear ‘doesn’t work’ in our industry, I decided to set up Getbusy Store, a home for streetwear and skate lifestyle goods especially for women. I’d worked in managerial and buyer roles previously and constantly hit defeatist and negative attitudes and a major underrepresentation when it came to us girls.

Since leaving university back in 2007, I’d worked to create a positive space for female musicians and artists, showcasing inspiring art, music, craft and more and so to me, the risky step of setting up on my own to address the gender imbalance and cater for us all seemed like something that had to be done. There was a gap in the market and it was just screaming out for someone to take a chance to see if things really could be changed, I wanted that for the industry and I wanted it for women.

Something I always liked to tell people is that I didn’t come from privilege, I didn’t have any savings to put into starting the business, it came from passion, a tenacious attitude and a lot of planning and hard work. I was so proud to work alongside such inspiring women – friends, athletes, punks, mums, crafters, riders, writers, riot grrrls, artists, skaters (who all modelled for us too and helped showcase our own view of beauty) as part of Getbusy from day one and I will always stand by my view that anyone can get out there and do their thing, it’s just takes a positive attitude, being true to yourself and a fierce determination. We’re lucky to be supported here in the UK by major enterprise funding, free training and business courses, to which we owe a lot of thanks.

We created a one-stop shop for hard to get hold of women’s lines from around the world and we continued to grow, challenge opinion and make our mark on the industry. We knew as customers there was a desperate need for a women’s store and on the flip side, we also showed there is a market, it is worth the risk for brands to work with women and there is a major opportunity for retailers to jump in and cater for us. We worked closely with brands and distributors who shared our passion and thanks to them we were able to achieve way more than we ever thought.

Unfortunately though, just as we reached our third birthday, we had to make the heart-breaking decision to close the store. The struggle for small independent retailers in the current climate is very real and due to a recent audit by HMRC and the fight for bank support in these difficult financial times, we were unable to continue trading as a business. For us, it’s incredibly frustrating as everything was going in the right direction and Getbusy was going from strength to strength with a great year ahead of us.

Sadly without the much-needed financial support at a critical time post audit and with a lack of options, we had no choice but to close our doors. The fact it was external however, does show that what we set out to prove was valid and had we have been supported as a business, we could have continued on our mission and who knows what we could have achieved. This is why we’d love to see more women getting involved in the industry and not being put off by or feeling excluded by the perceived ‘boys club.’ We received so much support and backing by plenty of guys and the potential is there, we all just need to continue to represent, share, encourage, come together and get busy! There are so many inspiring women out there right now, in action sports, holding it down in the industry, building their profiles, making an impact and making a difference, let’s hope they continue and inspire many more to follow in their footsteps.

The support we’ve had from day one from our customers has meant everything to us and it’s thanks to you guys, we were all able to live our dream for as long as we did. It’s so important to support your local and shop independent, we need to support the people who live the lifestyle in this industry and those who are motivated by passion not profit. Real recognise real. Returning customers to us, were the ultimate compliment and I loved getting to know so many of you and being a part of this community together. Seeing every single order come in was so appreciated by the girls and myself, even in our last year it never got old. At this very difficult time, your messages of love and positivity have been greatly appreciated and quite overwhelming really. It makes it all worthwhile and much easier to deal with going forward.

While we wind down the company and begin our journeys into what comes next, we will all be forever grateful for everyone who helped us, shopped with us and believed in us. We hope we have in some way inspired fellow women out there that you too can achieve things and despite what happened in the end, we still believe in the power of DIY, positive thinking and believing in yourself. GIRL POWER!

Emma blogs at girl got busy & tweets at here


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