Brave Angel builds her brand
‘Why not make a living out of things you like?’
If dogs interest you more than clothes, retailer Angel Burgess can help with them too.
Puppy Love is the name of her business. The animal lover began delivering dogs from the UK to Bermuda shortly after she moved to Leicester in 2016.
“My passions are animals and fashion and so I thought, ‘why not make a living out of things you like?’,” she said.
She was “schooled” by an animal courier who knew the industry well.
“Someone asked me to help with a Yorkie and so I did my research online, called Bermuda and got the information I needed for importing.
“I found a lady out here and she kind of schooled me through it. She knew [the business] inside out and Bermuda inside out, because she’s been doing it for 30 years. Once you tell me what you want I can send pictures of what I can find,” Mrs Burgess said. “If [the dog is] near to me, I will go and visit.
“And if not, I’ll do it by video. You pick the puppy, I go get it and send it back to Bermuda, for you.”
The puppies can cost upwards of $3,000. Demand has been high. Mrs Burgess added: “It takes a lot of paperwork and a lot of patience.”
For information on Puppy Love contact Angel Burgess: Puppylovebda@yahoo.com; on Instagram @puppylovebda and on Facebook, Puppylove Bda
England was meant to be a three-year stint for retailer Angel Burgess. However, when it came to crunch time, she found she couldn’t leave her new home. In April she shut the doors to A2Z Fashions, the boutique she ran on Queen Street, and started selling its popular brands online.
She also began offering a line of Bermuda-themed clothing she designed to “keep Bermuda close”.
“It was a three-year plan,” laughed Mrs Burgess, who moved to Leicester just after Cup Match in 2016 to put her daughter Zoya in university. “I was going to support her and to put my youngest [Ziye] in secondary school and supposed to go back to Bermuda, however, I love it out here and don’t want to come back.”
It wasn’t an easy decision for the entrepreneur. She’d promised her customers she’d return and her husband Jason, a Belco linesman for 27 years, had stayed in Bermuda to work.
“It’s not always easy living apart, but we have a solid plan and it keeps us motived,” the 43-year-old said. “I love the openness of England; I have always been adventurous. Last year, I had a job as a merchandiser with a company, and my team travelled five days a week to set up new stores.
“I absolutely loved it. I saw so much of England. Each place is so different from the next, although I will admit, I miss the blue skies and seas of Bermuda. But I’m home during the summer, so I enjoy it then.”
Although it made sense to close A2Z, she initially felt “a bit of a failure” for doing so.
“The business in Bermuda was declining. I had good staff and my best friend managing it for me, but [when I was in Bermuda] I was there every day, the customers knew my routine. People got to know me and I got to know them and what they liked.”
She’d opened the store in St George’s in 2012, having worked at Butterfield Bank for almost a decade. Two years later, she moved the store to Hamilton and her customer base grew.
Help came from her patented Bermuda flag swimsuits, which were a hit a few years ago.
Mrs Burgess looked around at buildings in Leicester’s city centre, but didn’t get as excited as she did when searching here.
“I didn’t get that same feeling. In Bermuda, I knew my customers, I knew the area I was in. It wasn’t feeling the same.
“I prayed about it and did a bit of soul searching and realised it’s just a building; it’s not A2Z. It’s a brand and I can do it anywhere. I just had to revamp how I was working.”
An idea for the way forward came from a “disorganised” attempt as a personal shopper for Bermuda customers, whose requests were made on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
“I found it was taking so much of my time. One customer could take me all day, so I started to wonder, what I could do to still have A2Z and my Bermuda designs, and make a living.”
She realised a website was the answer, but decided it was “too expensive” to build the way she wanted.
Then, her daughter Ziye created one for her. A2Z offers free shipping worldwide.
“It allowed me to reach a broader audience. Basically, it’s the best decision I ever made for business,” she said.
Her Bermuda designs, roughly 45 items, are her pride and joy. Inspiration often comes from her customers.
“Each item is made to order,” Mrs Burgess said. “You can put your name on it or your own logo; you can customise it however you want it.
“I knew tracksuits would do well, because who doesn’t love a track suit? But it started from the Bermuda sneaker.
“People loved it and I kept building from there. I have swimsuits, hoodies, slides ... It’s a lot of work, but definitely worth it and I love it.”
• Visit A2Z Fashions here: a2zfashionsuk.com
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