Spotlight on Rockett St George
This Company needs no introduction, as I know we all love the things they sell online. I have several items in my home that I have bought from here, from lighting to art, to textiles, and you can always find something on which to spend your hard-earned cash.
But did you know, that Jane Rockett and Lucy St George are big supporters of small businesses, starting out their journey? or that they are always on the lookout for unique, creative businesses so that they can sell their products through their site?
Well, I'm delighted to welcome them to the blog and to hear all about their story in growing Rockett StGeorge to the global brand it is today.
Company founders Jane Rockett and Lucy St George set up well renowned online interiors emporium www.rockettstgeorge.co.uk in 2007 with a small offering of home-ware and gifts. Ten years later (and still best friends!) Rockett St George has revitalised the interiors market by enabling customers to break free from chain store offerings and help stamp personality into their homes. The online store is a treasure trove of oddities and curiosities collected from designers and manufacturers from around the world. Their cleverly curated collections are a firm favourite of the press and interior designers, as well as their loyal customer base.
Paint charts, home magazines, material swatches and the latest car boot finds would be spread all over the sitting room where Lucy and Jane would be drinking wine and planning their latest re-design. Hours were spent browsing antique shops, flea markets and car boot sales looking for unique finds until they both hit on the same idea – to start an online shop! Today there is a team of over 30 people, 5 warehouses, a collection of over 3500 products and 10 successful catalogues.
In recent years, Jane and Lucy have launched pop-up collections within the most prestigious London department stores - they dominated the Fourth Floor at the famous Liberty London and more recently a concession at Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge.
Now in their tenth year, Jane and Lucy have put their creativity and interiors wisdom onto paper to write their debut book 'EXTRAORDINARY INTERIORS Show-stopping Looks for Beautiful Homes'. Designed to empower and motivate readers to be adventurous with their interiors and create the interiors of their dreams, the book will feature specially commissioned photography by talented photographer Debi Treloar, showcasing twelve extraordinary and inspirational homes owned by friends, colleagues and the co-founders themselves.
Over eight chapters Jane Rockett and Lucy St George share their decorating mistakes along with their triumphs and guide the reader through making tricky interior design decisions, along with top tips on how to achieve magical, surprising and inviting homes.
The Book will be published in October by Ryland, Peters and Small.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
When we started Rockett St George we had young children and could not commit to retail hours. We worked at night and in the early mornings but were still able to do the school pickup which was important. The beauty of having an online store is that it doesn't offer the boundaries a physical store, so we can appeal worldwide. We were both as equally passionate about creating extraordinary, glamorous, eclectic and witty living spaces and often picked up items from carboot sales and flea markets which our friends and family would love and would ask us to source them items. It made sense to turn it into a business!
2. How did you start up? kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
It all started from my living room! We would store items under the bed, in the garage and in the loft until we ran out of space and rented a beautiful barn in Sussex which we also outgrew fairly quickly! Taking on the warehouse space was a real moment for us both – it was scary but also amazing as we knew we were growing.
3. How did you fund your business?
We started with just 3k of savings and have always reinvested our profits back into the business without ever seeking outside investment.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
It was a very steep technical learning curve, to say the least! My experience in PR, Marketing and Photography and Lucy’s experience in Retail meant that we knew the basics, but setting up a website and implementing SEO was something we knew nothing about! We were very lucky that our first piece of press coverage was in Vogue magazine which really put us on the map.
5. What help was missing for you?
We just needed to gain experience. The best way to learn is by just going for it, making mistakes and then getting it right.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
When we first launched the website, we received an email from a successful online retailer saying ‘Gorgeous site but terrible navigation’. I immediately rang her up and spent ages gaining lots of knowledge of where we were going wrong. That help was invaluable and we will always be very grateful for it.
7. What have you learnt?
Not to worry and that everything will work out in the end!
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Be smart, don’t throw money at something to try and make it work – be resourceful and get help from as many people you know and trust as possible!
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
The beauty of having an online store is that it doesn't offer the boundaries a physical store, so we can appeal worldwide and have so much freedom in what we can offer. As the business has grown we’ve been able to spend more time exploring for inspiration and discovering new artists, designers & products – something we are passionate about and love doing.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
Most of the time 4 but sometimes higher. We have a wonderful team who are brilliant at what they do.
Nicola Says: To all small creative businesses, joining me on the blog to learn and gain business insights, this is a fabulous example of what success can look like. Jane and Lucy have grown organically, taking no external investment, but ploughing back their profits into the business to continue to grow. It's a fascinating story, which will resonate with a lot of you, starting out with a great idea, working from your living room or bedroom, making mistakes but taking as much advice as you possibly can to learn from it. I love the story from Jane, about calling someone up to discuss how to better your website navigation. You should never be afraid of asking for help, most people will readily give their time to help you out in the early days.
Thanks, so much Lucy and Jane, for sharing this story with me.
The Girl with The Green Sofa