Spotlight on OWO Living
Welcome to OWO living on today’s spotlight, a step into the unknown by an ex lawyer who truly believed he has found a solution to a gap in the market, a set of problems he discovered when decorating his own home, and a frustration at the lack of knowledge and customer service, which plagues so many of us.
Using all of his savings and jumping into the unknown was brave, but actually that is exactly what a good entrepreneur often does, knowing in their gut that they have something special, and knowing that they just have to go for it, and build a business because once that itch is there you just have to scratch it. Drive, it is called drive to succeed, and it is something rare that as an investor I am always looking out for. Not just someone who can do a job, but someone who passionately believes in what they are doing.
Read on to find out more about the journey
On one of my trips abroad I noticed a distinct difference in the level of service received by the customers in different establishments and in different countries. The disparity fascinated me and I set about trying to understand and change that. We have as a nation become accustomed to a level of service we class the norm however I believe we can deliver better heartfelt personalised service to our customers and that’s what we do. All our staff are customer champions assigned with a mission to give you world class service.
OWO Living offers exclusively curated collections, we thoroughly vet each item for quality and beyond. OWO Living resonates with customers looking for something that speaks to them, which it does in diverse design languages - from classical pieces to the flamboyant, modern adventure of the noughties and beyond, to the emerging contours of contemporary, redefined with a unique blend of luxury and innovation. We are one stop shop for all your furniture and homeware. We have a beautiful range to choose from to suit any interior!
Our aim is to make shopping easy and convenient by pioneering everything customer orientated. We have to give our customers more as we value their choice in coming to us. From the first click on our website to the delivery call. We are hands on in ensuring we investigate and tailor each step to put the customer at the forefront of all our decisions.
The curtain rises on a whole new OWO Living experience as we embark on redefining the furniture shopping experience.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
Well, to be honest, the plan started forming when I was in the process of decorating my own home. It was a bit of a nightmarish experience trying to get what I wanted—I was running from one shop to another, dealing with pushy sales staff who really didn’t seem to know much about the products they were selling. All the joy of seeing our decorative vision come to life was undermined by the stressful and tiring process. I could have moaned and complained but I’m the type of person that would rather change things myself. I decided to turn this negative experience into a positive direction. Furniture shopping didn’t have to be like this. OWO Living is the embodiment of what furniture shopping should be: a one stop shop for all things furniture with a World Class customer service team handpicked for their passion and expertise. Simple as that.
2. How did you start up? kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I was lucky enough to have a successful law career prior to my business adventure. It was a comfortable job but not entirely fulfilling. After dreaming up OWO Living, I left everything behind and started from scratch. Initially, the entire business was run from my old Dell laptop. From there, we progressed to a tiny 100sqft office. Now, we have a 20,000sqft warehouse and 2 offices in the country and are looking to make a foothold in the European market (Brexit allowing!).
3. How did you fund your business?
All my savings. I also had to take out some loans and max out overdrafts along the way to get to where we are. Luckily, my wife could not have been more supportive and understanding.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
If you enjoy what you do and have love for your products and your customers everything else comes easy. The hardest part was selecting the right team which shared the same passion and enthusiasm to help the business grow. I’m a firm believer of empowering your team and helping everyone achieve and excel. People are at the forefront of every decision we make at OWO Living. Before looking at personal or financial gain, we look at how our decision affect the happiness and comfort of our staff and customers. Our success is measured in smiles.
5. What help was missing for you?
Not everyone was supportive. Some were even critical of my decision. I could see how they might not have understood leaving a comfortable position to explore the unknown. I had a vision though, and if others couldn’t see it back then… they can now.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
From start-ups to well-established companies, businesses will encounter problems every single day. For me, working through problems and finding solutions is the most exciting part of the work. That’s where the challenge lies. We’ve had big issues like an unexpected roof leak in the warehouse and smaller ones like not having time for a lunch break. It’s a different story each day really, from blocked toilets to personally making a 400-mile round trip to deliver a rattan set in time for a customer’s birthday. We never mind problems at OWO, rather than letting them bring us down, we rise above them.
7. What have you learnt?
The most important rule is look after your team and your customers like family and the rest will follow. If you have to choose between being kind and being right, choose being kind and you will always be right. Loyalty is everything in all aspects of life.
I have learnt time is precious and giving 110% to your work and respecting your craft is paramount. You have been blessed with a skill, you should respect that. Don’t ever look for shortcuts. It can be hard when you’ve had a long day at work and there is nothing left energy wise when you get home and to get the right balance without compromising on either is important.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Take the first step and go for it. It sounds easy but all the reasons to not do it will overpower your thoughts but remember everything will be okay. You will either be one lesson or one step closer to success.
And carry a portable charger! You will need it
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
I love speaking with customers that’s why I’m always active on ground level so I don’t lose touch with the core of the business and can add value from taking on feedback. I am hands on and no jobs too big or small.
I also love designing and seeing our items in our customer’s homes. We’ve recently made our own mark on contemporary furniture in the most fundamental and dramatic fashion, bringing our trademark blend of luxury and quirkiness with our newly launched Natura Range. It has been incredible in bringing to life a product from scratch to seeing it in shops, homes and industry leading interior magazines.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
10! If it were any less, I would start questioning whether I was pushing myself or the business hard enough. You have to make it happen and tie the camels knot!
The Girl with The Green Sofa