Interview with Miranda Cook of The Wootique London
Read our interview with Miranda Cook of The Wootique London. Miranda launched the store during the pandemic, and within a short space of time it has grown to become a popular destination and community for lovers of tarot, crystals and other magical supplies.
What’s your career background?
A bit of a mixed bag, I dropped out of school at 14 but at 21 did an NVQ in journalism and then worked at The Sunday Times as a non-graduate trainee reporter. After that, as it was the 90s and the height of superclubbing, I went on to be the Clubs Editor for Mixmag, a dance music magazine.
Much later, when I had my son in 2010, I decided to go to university as a mature student, and studied Social Work, which I still do a form of now, alongside running The Wootique London.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
During lockdown I started an Instagram account to share my daily tarot card readings, and I discovered a huge, worldwide community of people doing the same thing, alongside a whole gang of talented artists and creators who were making modern, original tarot and oracle decks. I was spending quite a lot of money buying these decks for my collection.
In 2021, after the Brexit customs and VAT regulations kicked in, it became prohibitively expensive as an individual to order tarot decks from abroad. So I thought I’d get into ‘community service’ by sourcing these tarot decks wholesale thereby providing a service to UK tarot collectors and readers who could receive their items in record time without the faff and expense of customs and VAT charges.
How did you come up with your business name?
My partner, Piers is a pun master. I was thinking along the lines of ‘woo woo’ (as many people refer to esoteric ideas) and he came up with The Wootique – I see it as a beautiful boutique filled with wonderful tarot art and magical accessories.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
Because I was indirectly connected to many tarot deck creators via my Instagram account, and already had 1000+ followers, it was easy to set up the business, order some stock, make a Shopify store (actually that was the hardest part) and open. I launched on the Leo new moon, because new moons are an auspicious time for launching projects.
Who’s your target audience?
Tarot reading used to be about visiting a back room in a shop filled with incense to have your ‘fortune told’ but many people these days consult tarot and oracle cards for daily inspiration and motivation, to explore their inner feelings on a subject or simply because they enjoy the art and ritual of doing a reading and maybe journaling about it.
So my audience encompasses people of all ages who read tarot for themselves, collect the artworks, read for others or who are simply just ‘woo curious’.
What’s your USP?
The Wootique London is where you’ll find beautiful and unique self-published tarot and oracle decks, and it won’t break the bank to purchase or take months for them to arrive from abroad.
Why is your business so relevant today?
Interest in metaphysical subjects increases when life is uncertain. People are looking for reassurance from other sources, so tarot, astrology and alternative healing practices have become increasingly popular in recent years.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
It’s largely word of mouth through the Instagram community. I’m lucky to have very engaged followers who are more than happy to share their purchases with their own followers, I also have good friends in the Youtube community who review their purchases and help spread the word. I believe this kind of organic growth will sustain The Wootique’s reputation into the future.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
Honestly? Engaging with my audience regularly and sincerely. I’m totally interested in listening to my customers wants and needs (and having a good chat about tarot!)
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Being a very small business with small capital funding, so every new stock line could be a risk. Not being able to buy in large amounts to qualify for larger discounts (yet) means that margins can be very small. It’s a labour of love but I believe I can grow the business and make a profit.
And your proudest moment so far?
Probably being able to work with tarot artists and creators who I greatly admire, and having them choosing The Wootique as their exclusive UK stockist.
Why is work important to you?
I couldn’t not work. Even when I left school early I worked full time (as you could in those days), in an industrial laundrette, a record shop and cleaning offices. I did any work I could find – I need to keep my mind active or else I can be prone to low mood. That’s why I still have two jobs now!
Who inspires you?
All my single parent friends who have Big Jobs and children to worry about. I was a single parent for five years and that is the hardest job in the world, in my opinion.
How do you balance your work with your family?
I’m lucky that The Wootique can be run from my home office, which means that I can prioritise being around for my son, who is autistic.
I had to give up being a social worker for a local authority as the hours were crazy and my son wasn’t coping with wrap around care. Now I have a social work job in the third sector which is more flexible and I can work condensed hours.
What’s next for The Wootique London?
I have recently branched out with the Magic Collection, which also features items mostly not available in the UK, such as Crystal Bar Soaps and exclusive tarot candle ranges. I’m hoping to collaborate on more of these gift ideas as well as expanding the tarot offerings. Eventually I would love The Wootique to be a brick and mortar space with tarot readings available – but without the incense!
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
- Make sure that your business solves a problem.
- Ensure that you have impeccable customer service – always reply to queries and complaints – I was surprised how many small online shops either didn’t reply or weren’t helpful when I had emailed them.
- If it’s difficult, it’s not going to work. Go with the flow of the universe!
Find out more about The Wootique London.