SHOP THE SQUARES MEETS THE BRANDS
Welcome to our meet the brands series of blog posts, where we take you behind the scenes to meet the makers and small brand owners that make Shop The Squares possible.
This week we’re chatting with Helen owner of Blue Ticking, a children’s interiors brand that specialises in heritage pieces combined with contemporary prints and room paraphernalia. Helen lives with her husband John and two daughters in the Surrey Hills. Blue Ticking’s Spring Sale starts today, March 26th, so visit their web site (link at the bottom of this blog) and grab yourself a bargain!
1. What made you decide to set up your own business?
It was a combination of a number of things which all came together after moving out of London to Surrey and having our two daughters. I really didn’t want to do the commute anymore and I was struggling to find work which was flexible enough. We also struggled to find pieces of furniture for our children, that were not only fit for purpose, but we liked and wanted in our home. I also knew I wanted to do something more creative and had a desire to turn my passion of interiors into a business. So with our joint love of interiors and a love for both vintage and contemporary design my husband and I set about changing this.
2. What was the hardest thing about getting Blue Ticking up and running?
Finding the time to really focus on it whilst looking after two small children and also having confidence in what I was doing. I doubted myself a lot at the beginning and deliberated over everything. Now four years in I have real confidence in what we are doing, the products we sell and the future of Blue Ticking.
3. Describe a typical day
Up at 7am, then it’s a major rush to get both kids fed, watered and dressed for school. After dropping them off, I either go for a run or head straight to the studio. One day I could be taking photos of new goods and uploading them on the website and another day I could be out and about sourcing new goods or renovating them. I also need to make time daily for all the admin tasks as well as the upload of social media posts. No day is ever the same, which make it fun and interesting.
4. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about setting up their own small business?
Don’t be afraid to give things a go. Have no regrets and don’t worry if you make mistakes, this is how we learn and do things better next time. Seek advice and support from people in the know, never be afraid to ask for help. You also don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but it is key to have a point of difference. Passion for what you do is everything. If you love it, then others will too.
5. How important is social media to your business?
Really important and I wish I had more time to focus on it. Instagram is a real driver for us because it’s so visually impactful and can really show of our goods to a wide and far-reaching audience. So many of our goods sell even before they make it onto the website. I don’t think you can underestimate the power of social media, but I’m conscious that I can’t rely too heavily on it either. It can’t be the sole focus though it has allowed me to reach out to many more people.
6. What’s your biggest business challenge?
Ensuring that our goods our fresh, different and unique. A lot of our goods are vintage, one off items and so managing our stock is always a challenge. Another major challenge is the fact that it’s just John and I at the moment and mainly me. I don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything I want or should be doing.
7. How is your work/life balance?
It’s much better now we have moved to a new studio where I have my office. Before it was at home so I found it very hard to separate work from home life. I’m still pretty bad at looking at my phone when I should be switching off or concentrating on the children but I definitely feel I have a better balance. John my husband is a technophobe and hates how intrusive it can be so he’s a very good influence and tells me off when I am in too deep!
8. Describe your personal style
It’s a real mix of heritage and contemporary. I like ‘stuff’ so our house is far from minimalist. We have prints, pictures and plates all over our walls and colour features heavily. We have just converted our loft and redecorated the whole of the upstairs so I have been able to go mad with new paint colours and re designing of the children’s bedrooms, heaven!
9. Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration very much comes from my children and our surroundings. We are lucky to live in the glorious Surrey Hills so we spend a lot of time outdoors exploring. You can’t fail to be inspired by the ever changing and dramatic scenery. I’m a sucker for a good interiors magazine too and find Pinterest a constant source of inspiration, I just need a bigger house!!!
10. If you weren’t running Blue Ticking, what would you be doing?
I like the idea of doing something outside, though what that would be I don’t know! I grew up on a farm so have always craved the outdoor life! If that failed then I would probably still be in the charity sector though working for a local charity and not having to do the daily commute into London!