Bricks & Mortar RetailersCase Studies

Verabella Boutique

A children’s fashion retailer in Liverpool was near to giving up until she received the support of a business mentor funded through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Although she had been trading online for several years, Sarah Gashi had only been trading from her store on Norton Street in Liverpool for a year when Mark O’Dolan stepped in to support her.

Mark has been able to mentor Sarah via funding secured by the National Skills Academy for Retail (NSAR) specifically to assist small retail businesses and it has made an immediate impact.

When Mark first came to see me I was close to giving it all up as I just couldn’t see a way forward anymore. But now I am feeling much more positive as I can see the difference his support has made and I am really confident about the future.


A business mentor would normally have been too expensive for Sarah to have considered, however the funding that was available significantly reduced this cost and has already re-paid itself many times over.

Mark responded as soon as I contacted him to ask for support and that really impressed me. I had an immediate issue to sort out around the finances of the business that he was able to resolve for me but more importantly he brought new ideas and approaches to how to set up my store which had an immediate impact on sales and things have progressed from there.


Sarah’s mentor, Mark O’Dolan, a vastly experienced retailer who is part of the Grey4Gold network of business executives, gave Sarah the confidence to change the windows and the layout of her store but also challenged Sarah to do things differently.

Mark told me the store was too clinical. I am a nurse by profession so my approach was to make things as organised and neat as possible so everything was on the wall, but Mark encouraged me to use the floor space as well and I can see how it has really helped to show off both the ranges and product groups better.


It is great to have the additional support of someone I can trust and who understands my business and really hope the funding will be made available so we can continue to work together in the future


The relationship has encouraged Sarah to look at other areas of her businesses where she would like to develop her skills. The new Digital High Street Skills programme that has been developed by the NSAR is something which interests Sarah as she is keen to develop her online business further.

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