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She credits Women’s Economic Ventures’ Self-Employment Training program with setting her up for success

Angela Torin opened Hampstead Village, a British fine goods shop in La Arcada, after going through Women’s Economic Ventures’ Self-Employment Training program. She says the course helped her develop her niche, and that now, “If you’re looking for a wedding gift or a baby gift, I want people to think of Hampstead Village.” (Women’s Economic Ventures courtesy photo)

By Taylor Orr, Noozhawk Business Writer | @NoozhawkBiz | Published on 01.25.2011

For Angela Torin, owner of Hampstead Village, Women’s Economic Ventures has empowered her with the confidence, courage and knowledge to start her own business — a shop filled with British fine goods at 1114 State St., No. 10 in La Arcada.

“It says a lot (about Torin) to take a class in May and open a shop in La Arcada in December,” said Leah Gonzales, program manager for Women’s Economic Ventures.

Originally from Manchester and having lived for many years in London Torin moved to Santa Barbara in 1992, where her two daughters and younger son grew up. Torin spent several years in retail before moving to the United States, but she stopped working to raise her children.

“I thought if I was going to open up a business, I would need to learn some more up-to-date techniques,” Torin said. “I had never had a business in America before, and I wanted to know the details of doing business here.”

Torin turned to WEV’s Self-Employment Training (SET) program, which she said she “can’t recommend highly enough.”

“They have a different professional come every week to speak to you about a wide range of topics, everything from commercial leasing to insurance to advertising,” Torin said. “By the end of 14 weeks, you’ve really been exposed to what it takes to open up a business here.”

She said WEV’s instruction on business plan writing is vital to anyone planning to open a business.

“Even after being open for a whole of six weeks, I’m still referring to it,” Torin said. “Writing down your dream and vision on paper brings it to fruition.”

She said the courses she took at WEV were important for networking with guest teachers and other students. She even met her real estate broker through the class.

“(WEV) brings you together with like-minded people who want to find the courage to open up their own business,” Torin said. “People can be negative sometimes, but everyone there is thinking, ‘I can do this after all if I learn and concentrate and gain the confidence and courage it takes.’”

Torin said she saw a need for a shop selling British goods in Santa Barbara. She remembers a shop that went out of business about 15 years ago, but until recently, the city’s boutique market lacks a shop selling British things.

“I wanted to bring in not just Cadbury chocolates, which I do have plenty of, but I wanted it to be a really different gift store,” she said. “If you’re looking for a wedding gift or a baby gift, I want people to think of Hampstead Village.”

The shop is named for an area in northwest London where both of her daughters were born. Hampstead Village sells Irish crystal, unique-looking teapots, Beatles and other pop memorabilia, Penhaligon’s of London perfumes and a wide variety of candies and other food.

“I want the experience (in the shop) to be wholly nostalgic,” Torin said.

She added that the response to her shop has been more positive than she expected, and that she feels fortunate to have found a beautiful spot in La Arcada to open her business.

Some people may doubt the viability of opening a business during an economic recession, but Torin said “there’s a time and place for everything, and this is the right time for me, personally. You do think about (the economy), and it’s a major consideration, and that is why your business plan is absolutely vital. WEV teaches you a three-year cash flow projection. It’s ever so useful.”

Networking also has been crucial for Torin’s early success. She is in her fourth year as board president for the Breast Cancer Research Center, and she sits on the board of the Anti-Defamation League.

“Networking is crucial for opening up your own business. Go to NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners),” she said. “I think to get into your own business here in Santa Barbara, you have to have a good and concise business plan. Know what you want to do, but don’t waiver from the concept.”

Torin also credits her “wonderful” QuickBooks adviser from Dynamic Business Solutions, Lynette Hanson, for teaching Torin the business accounting software and helping her move forward in her business.

Hampstead Village’s goods soon will include more books and DVDs, as well as a weekly session of reading to children by the fireplace beginning in February.

“I think it’s important to specialize,” Torin said. “I’m finding a niche in the market where it’s been done before, but not for 15 years. I wanted to bring not just the usual British things but fine British goods to Santa Barbara.”

WEV’s Self-Employment Training course is offered twice each year, with classes starting in February and in September. The next course will begin Feb. 8. The class runs for 14 consecutive weeks, one night a week for three hours, and includes two full Saturdays. Classes are taught in Santa Maria, Buellton, Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks and Ventura.

Participants considering the course are required to attend a free one-hour orientation workshop. The next two orientations in Santa Barbara are scheduled for 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26 and noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2.

Click here or call 805.965.6073 to register or for more information.

Noozhawk business writer Taylor Orr can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook

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