Sarah Akwisombe, Blogger, Stylist, No Bull Blog School
Today on the Blog I'm featuring Sarah Akwisombe talking about her journey from office worker to interior stylist, award winning blogger, runner of "no bull blog school" and business advisor. Recently appearing on the giant screens at Piccadilly Circus, I think it is fair to say she has never looked back!
She's also pretty fearless when it comes to decorating something I admire given my recent dithering over living room colour.
Sarah has grown massively and regularly gives advice on all of these things, quadrupling her income in a few short years, this is one journey not to be missed.
Hey! I'm Sarah, and I'm a double award winning blogger and interior stylist. When we bought our first flat a couple of years ago my passion for interiors reached dizzy heights and I became obsessed. After getting fired from my boring office job I decided to follow my gut, take the plunge and try and get into interiors.
Since then I've been lucky enough to assist some of the best stylists in the industry and work for some of the UK's biggest homewards brands, like M&S, Dwell, BHS, Paint by Conran and DFS. I've also had huge brands find my blog and want to work with me. Which is pretty damn awesome when a few years ago I was working long hours in a pressured and stressful job. Sometimes I literally can't believe that this is what I do now. I also get to spend more time at home with my daughter who keeps me on my toes with constant demands and cuddles!
My love for interior design has always been strong, I just didn't really realise it. When I was about 5 I remember laying out my room in a different way after seeing a good layout in a kids book. At 12, I drew out what I wanted my new bedroom to look like and then 'pitched' it to my parents (they went for it).
When I was older I was desperate to have a space to call my own so that I could start making it into a beautiful and cool space. Around the same time, something switched on inside me and I became OBSESSED with antiques. Don't ask me where it came from - my parents were never into them, and as a kid I hated stuff like that, but I got bitten by the antiques bug. I think it's something to do with the nostalgia for a past time. Something about the past always seems so perfect...
Things got really good when my husband and I became first time buyers and bought our first family home shortly after having our daughter. That was about a year ago. It's a fabulous Art Deco flat, but it had been unloved and badly kept. It needed a total cosmetic makeover. We started renovating it and as each thing got finished I kept getting people tell me that I had a knack for great interior design and finding antique and vintage objects to style my home. I started getting people ask me to buy furniture for them. Then I realised that this was getting serious! So I left the day job, and I'm loving every day in my interior design journey!
1. You've had an amazing couple of years and your blog is now justifiably recognised in the top 50 blogs regularly, so I'm interested in what got you started with Blogging and on Social Media, which came first and why?
It was actually years ago when I made music, before social media existed. I had a MySpace account and on there you could have a blog section so I started writing updates of what I was doing and sharing images. That’s really where the idea of ‘blogging’ first came about for me. Over the years it progressed into my eventually having a design blog.
2. Do you blog full-time or mix it with other jobs?
I would say that my brand collaborations are the basic income of my business, but those are taking place more on social media or on video form these days. I also work as an interior designer on independent commercial projects and I have my own online business school where I teach courses in things like social media through to more personal development stuff.
3. How do you juggle it all, especially with a young family?
Ha ha isn’t that the million dollar question! I’m just determined. I know the life I want me and my family to have and I’m willing to make it happen. I love new opportunities and I constantly have ideas on how to grow my brand and business. I have to make sure that I allow myself some rest time and quality time with my daughter and husband (who is also my business partner). We’ve started to book more vacations in order to do that and just switch off.
4. Do you have any advice on growing a blog readership or Instagram following, what specifically should people look to do?
Forget any kind of bots. It’s really disgusting to me that people will manipulate the system like that. Create true, authentic content and don’t get so obsessed with the numbers - it’s more important that you build real, genuine connections with people.
5. What Brands have you worked with? Did you seek to monetise your blog or has it been serendipitous?
Oh man so many! Recently Airbnb, eBay, google, Samsung and then loads of amazing indies too. I didn’t at first but as soon as I realised it was a business I started taking it more seriously and looking at making sure it aligned with the kinds of brands that fitted my values and aesthetic.
6. If someone was looking to make money this way, without giving away all your trade secrets, do you have any advice for them?
You need to really have a niche, something that you do better than anyone else. For example, I’m the go to person for young vibrant interiors. I have an audience that is an older millennial. So they’re young and super clued up about culture but maybe have a young family and a decent amount disposable income. Being unique is really important to them. The key here is I know my audience inside out so therefore attract specific brands that want to reach that audience. Not any and everyone as that doesn’t work.
7. what do you find the hardest and the most rewarding?
Probably interior design. I didn’t train formally so I’m always learning on the job. Each project is a huge learning curve and a stretch for me - both creatively and logistically. Plus it always takes more time than has been budgeted for! But it’s so rewarding when it’s finished and you see people enjoying your space.
8. Have you done anything different or new in the last year to increase your social/blog following?
Nope! I just do me. Always have.
9. How do you grow your blog readership and most importantly keep people coming back?
I make sure to utilise social media to promote new content and I try and encourage people to sign up to my newsletter so that they hear as soon as I have new content available.
10. What has been your biggest or favourite milestone?
Seeing myself and my husband on a TV as for eBay on the giant screens at Piccadilly Circus was pretty surreal.
The Girl with The Green Sofa