Spotlight on Emma Allman-Shuttleworth
Today's spotlight is Emma Allman Shuttleworth of Decor etc, interior designer and now seller of homewares through her website here. Like many female, small creative business owners, Emma took time out to look after her 4 children, but always enjoyed interiors as a hobby. It was only when moving house that her hobby became her business. Read on to hear more.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
When I left university I worked in fashion design until I started my family and then all my energies went into bringing up my four children. I am an aestetic person and have always enjoyed interiors and fortunately I was able to transform former houses and put my stamp on them.
I realised at this point that interiors could be more than a hobby. .
When I put my house on the market the Estate Agents at the time introduced me to a business man who wanted an Interior Designer to design one of their show flats in Shrewsbury. This gave me the confidence to take the plunge and set up Decor etc as an interior designer
3 years later I changed the website to sell homeware . The business started when one day I found myself looking for a lampshade and realised that I couldn’t find what I really wanted and I knew that with my artistic background I could create my own.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I started the business from a little studio at the bottom of my garden and used the cellar for storage.
3. How did you fund your business?
The interior design business didn’t need any funds with the exception of a new Mac but when I started the homeware side it was funded by the profits from my interior design business.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
I found that it was very time consuming building my web page and the time spent choosing the best products. Also the time invested in making sure that my new business was marketed correctly to maximise custom.
5. What help was missing for you?
I feel that I could have had more knowledge about computers as this was the sole way of trading. Trial and error in my case.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
On the whole it has been a relatively good start to the business. However, I underestimated my understanding of SEO and how much computer time was needed to keep customers engaged.
7. What have you learnt?
People underestimate the hours you put into your own business. When I am sorting out the house and my family I am still in a way thinking about the business, if orders need to be posted, updating social media, ensuring that I am responding to questions. But through all this I have learnt that it is a very rewarding running your own business and that a hobby can turn into a business.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
I would say that you really have to research your product and plan carefully running up to the opening of your business. Give yourself six months at least for it to start and don’t give up if you don’t see great returns instantly.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy the home work balance, I can still give my full attention to my family and have the business running by the side.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
I am lucky that I am an optimistic person and have taken most of this in my stride but have always been prepared to accept that it will only be as good as the effort you put in.
Nicola Says "I think for anyone starting their own business, you always underestimate how much time things will take you, how long it takes to get off the ground and start earning money and how all consuming it can be, so Emma's advice is spot on in this case. Regardless of all of the above, nothing beats being your own boss, especially if you have children. It gives you a huge amount of freedom even if you struggle to switch off"
The Girl with The Green Sofa