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.
1. What made you decide to start your business?
I’ve always loved interiors, even as a kid, without realising it was a “thing” and you could have a career in shifting furniture around a room. The big change in career happened when we had our third child and we moved into an old dilapidated house that needed renovating, this tipped me over the edge to change careers from graphic design to interior design.
2. What was the hardest thing about getting started?
For me, it was and still is the technical side of running an online business, I love faffing with home accessories, I’m pretty good at plumping cushions, but when it comes to SEO, analytics and conversion rates I’m all frowns and hate being stuck behind the screen.
3. Describe a typical day
My working day is pretty short all in all, so I spend the whole day in one big whirlwind, so after the school run and a quick class at the gym, I get straight onto packing orders, answering queries and then look at stock levels to see if I need to get anything re-ordered. The kettle is always on, is chain-tea drinking even a thing? If it isn’t then it should be. I always try and style and snap some products in situ every day if I have time, so that I build up a library of images of styled shots ready to post on instagram. Oh an not forgetting the daily trip to see the girls at the post office!
4. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about setting up his/her own small business?
I’m not a big risk taker, I wish I could be, but I’m really cautions, especially when I’m putting my money at risk. I’d start slow and build organically bit by bit, feeling your way into what works and what doesn’t and don’t be afraid of changing direction if things are not working out.
5. How important is social media to your business?
I’d say it’s pretty important and a great way to stay connected and also for inspiration on what’s trending in the interiors world. Sometimes I feel nobody’s listening when I’m posting things from my sofa, but they are and it’s such a great feeling when it’s validated.
I run a pop-up shop every now and again and always try and ask visitors if they have heard of it via social media or if they were just passing, a large proportion always say it was from instagram, which is lovely to think that people are listening, connecting and making the trip to see my collection in the “real” so yes I’d say it’s vital.
6. What’s your biggest challenge?
Probably selling and marketing, I come out in hives when I have to promote myself and in business you have to shout from the hilltops to let people know you exist to buy from you …… I need to work on this.
7. How is your work/life balance?
Pretty good I think, I work from home so I feel really lucky not to have to start my day in a traffic jam. I’ve never employed child care on a regular basis, our youngest is now ten and with all three children, I’ve always preferred to be there at school pick up. My working day is pretty tight, this way I can make sure I’m all wrapped up for when they come home for the evening.
8. Describe your style
My interiors style is very much inspired by natural materials, rustic wood, greenery, botanicals,linens and cotton. It’s a very relaxed bohemian style, I think, without being too eclectic. An easy, comforting style ….. It’s hard to put into words your own style, I’ve always been more of a visual person hence my love of interiors and styling.
9. Where do you find your inspiration?
I love to visit new cities and little independent shops and cafes, before I go on a trip, I always try and search out the cool places to hang out, places with concrete walls and lots of plants and little things to buy for the house. I find other peoples shops a huge inspiration and dream about having my own bricks and mortar in some form or another one day.
10. If you weren’t running this business, what would you be doing?
Something to do with plants and flowers or running a coffee shop on the coast is a bit of a dream…… ooooh maybe both, I’d love that ….. a botanical coffee shop by the sea. I can just imagine it.