In The Beginning
In 2002 I combined two of my interests and set up a small business.
As one of my interests was computing I set up my business online at a time when the Internet was young. I designed my first web site and have continued to code my own sites ever since. I also wrote my own stock control database from scratch which is still in use today.
As my other interest was wargaming I set up a business selling miniatures for tabletop wargames or as they used to be called: toy soldiers. I'd spotted an opportunity to re-introduce Mirliton to the UK. The attraction was the high quality of the sculpting and casting which had earned them a strong reputation despite not having had UK distributor for many years.
This meant investment and importing stock from Italy but it guaranteed a unique selling point. Most importantly it provided a supply high quality miniatures. After some email discussions a deal was struck, which is still in place today, and Vexillia was born.
The Early Years
Online retailing was very new but also exciting, even trendy, and the business grew steadily thanks to word of mouth, the quality of the miniatures and judicious online advertising.
From the start I aimed to provide excellent customer service and prompt communication to match the premium products on offer. I was lucky to get a significant amount of repeat business.
In the first few years I was able to add strong sellers like Freezywater books and flag sheets as well as a number of wargames rules sold as ebooks. The experience gained in importing from Italy led to the introduction of other quality ranges from Italy like Venexia, Baueda and Acies Edizioni plus ranges from Spain like Corvus Belli.
The Golden Years
As the business developed it switched from a basic small business to a limited company. The latter was financially sensible but it was a world of administrative pain.
Not content with retailing imported ranges, by 2011 I had developed two small ranges of 15 mm miniatures and purchased a range of 18 mm Napoleonic Ottomans to build the business for the future. Sales grew steadily despite the effects of the global economic turmoil post 2008.
However, all was not well elsewhere. From 2012 on suppliers began to withdraw from the market. First Venexia was sold to America never to reappear. Then Acies Edizioni and Corvus Belli ceased production. For a short while sales were very strong as people rushed to buy the out of production ranges while they could.
Since 2012 replacing the lost ranges has proved increasingly problematical as margins tightened and many suppliers were content to sell direct in a mature global online marketplace.
In 2017 Vexillia reverted to its roots as a standard small business and the limited company became dormant. In the end the costs and paperwork associated with running a limited company far outweighed any benefit.
Reorganised as a small business Vexillia remains viable. In fifteen years change has been almost a monthly occurrence. As to what the future may bring: who knows?