Spotlight on Oakwood Vintage
Today on the Blog Is Julie Stanton of Oakwood Vintage, who runs her own interior and design business from my hometown in Leeds; having already set up and sold a similar business in Spain, but wishing to return to the UK.
I’m Julie Stanton, a self-confessed Interiors/Styling obsessive! My working life has evolved around all things lifestyle, Fashion, Interiors, Food, Travel and Hospitality. Its where I feel I’m at my best, happiest and where I’ve carved out my own little niche. Right now, I’m drawing on all the experience I have gained and channelling it through my Vintage Interiors and design Business which is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Here, in the picturesque 18th century courtyard setting, you’ll find unique collections of Vintage furniture and home accessories.
Together with my partner Chris and miniature spaniel Charly, I live in the beautiful neighbourhood of Oakwood, just a five-minute stroll from our showrooms. We’re a mature pair of empty nesters with 2 grown up twenty something sons.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
Having ‘lived the dream’ in a mountain village near Ronda, Andalucía we headed back to Blighty armed with our plans to start afresh back in our home town. Having already tested the concept back in Spain, setting up business back in the UK felt like a breeze! Spanish business law is quite complex and not for the faint hearted. This time the ‘dream’ was going to be more straightforward. She said.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
Before the big move took place, I had spent an enormous amount of time online looking at the options available for us to develop the business. The simplest and fastest route to the market seemed to be renting space within a Vintage Emporium. Once that decision had been made, we paid our rent and set ourselves a deadline to get trading. We’d hit the ground running and we were still in Spain.
3. How did you fund your business?
Funding came from the proceeds of the sale of our business in Spain.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
Having just returned to the UK, the most difficult was curating a collection of stock within the timescales I had set for myself. That was pressure! Sourcing the stock, I would need to make my space in the Emporium stand out wasn’t going to be easy at all. Nothing like throwing yourself in at the deep end? There was also this big bug bear of mine which was Social Media, I was going to have to catch up fast. Life in a mountain village is probably a little too laid back!
5. What help was missing for you?
Support, on different levels. As an Independent, with a less than conventional business concept, it was quite a challenge trying to find the right people to bounce ideas off. It can feel quite lonely out there in the early days.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
I couldn’t honestly say that any one thing went wrong, it was certainly a learning curve, which I was expecting.
7. What have you learnt?
Time is money! When you have to wear so many different hats on a day to day basis, structuring your time is hugely important. When things go wrong, and they do, there's no-one to delegate to, it’s all about you. I’m looking forward to the day I can afford to employ someone.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Plan, plan and plan some more, right across the board and particularly the financials.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
Buying/Sourcing totally satisfies my creative side.
Those moments when I realise I've found something really exciting! Sourcing exactly the right piece for a client is very rewarding. Being my own boss and the advantages that brings to my working life.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
Oh No! That's a tricky one. I’m going right down the middle on 5, simply because some days it’s gloriously easy and others, let’s say, not so!
Nicola Says, ' as we often see through these spotlights, planning and good financial management is key to getting your business started successfully, at least Julie found the legal side easier in the UK. Social Media once again crops up because it is such a good platform on which to market your business and drive footfall and while Julie has a premise at present a move to online later in the year will see the need of online social marketing increase."
The Girl with The Green Sofa