Hi, I'm Louisa Blackmore and I'm the founder of West Egg Interiors, an award winning online interiors store. I set up the business in 2011 after escaping the City and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I'd love to help anyone else who is thinking of setting up a creative business, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Louisa escaped from the heart of the city... she used to work for a hedge fund and (before that) a magic circle law firm. She has recently launched her own company (selling furniture and home accessories). We'll let her tell her story herself...
Please email me at email@example.com if you have any questions or feedback.
In 2011 I set up a company called West Egg Interiors which is an online retailer of unique furniture and home accessories that are simple, charming and good quality. We source antique and vintage pieces from all over the UK and Europe, as well as selling a uniquely curated selection of beautiful homewares and soft furnishing products. I offer interior design and styling services on residential and commercial projects, as well as private shopping tours for clients looking for particular pieces. It's busy! On a monthly basis I teach furniture painting courses at our studio and workshop in Blunham, Bedfordshire and also in London at The Decor Cafe. At our studio we also offer courses in soft furnishings and interior design. I have recently started teaching a successful workshop called Start Up Your Creative Business which has been really popular with people looking to set up interiors-related businesses. I write all the content for the West Egg blog and feature on the expert panel for Period Homes & Interiors magazines as well as contributing regularly to national interiors magazines and newspaper supplements. I will be speaking at the Meet The Blogger conference in London in March 2013 as well as several other speaking engagements at interiors events throughout the year.
I worked in the legal team at a hedge fund in London for 3½ years, before that I worked at a magic circle law firm for 4 years.
I was on a flight to the States for my cousin’s wedding and when I turned my blackberry off I realised I was the happiest I’d been in months.
Although I originally had the idea for West Egg in late 2008 I never thought I would have the guts to actually quit my job and do it.
Then it suddenly dawned on me: if I didn’t do it now I probably never would and that terrified me more than the thought of faiing.
I made the decision to leave the hedge fund world in June 2010 and then worked my notice until October 2010 during which time I spent most evenings and weekends doing research on competitors, trends, online stores and pricing.
I spoke to virtually every person I’d ever met to get their opinion on it, wrote a very basic business plan and did as much financial forecasting as I could. I was very lucky in that I was able to set up the business from home which keeps the overheads as low as possible and I don’t carry enormous quantities of stock.
I used my savings to cover the start up costs and I did restoration work for clients which provided a useful revenue stream while I was setting up the website etc.
Calling in favours from friends and family to help with different aspects of the business has really helped keep costs down too.
The best thing is undoubtedly working for yourself! The more you put in, the more you get out. I love being able to choose my hours, travelling around the UK and Europe and meeting so many amazing and inspiring people. I also love being in control of my own life and doing what I want. I never thought I would be in this position and I feel incredibly lucky.
The worst thing is that doing everything yourself does stretch your time and keeping everything together is a bit of a juggling act but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The best advice has been to be flexible and open to new ideas and different ways of doing things. I hadn't even considered teaching workshops until I did a presentation at an interior design studio in Suffolk. A lady attending the talk asked afterwards if I did workshops because she wanted to do one with her friend. I went to the interior design studio with a proposal and they started booking me once a month to teach a basic one day course in furniture painting. It was their most popular course and I now teach at my own studio and in London. Similarly, I only started the blog because my website designer told me too, and that has opened up so many doors to interiors journalists and editors. The other valuable pieces of advice are to keep it simple and follow up on every lead - even a chance encounter can go somewhere.
Talking to friends, family, basically everyone and anyone I could get hold of and especially anyone who runs a business or has anything to do with the furniture industry.
In my experience, people are generally really enthusiastic and want to help in any way they can and if they can’t help, they have invariably put me in touch with people who can.
Also I used the business link website a lot when I was setting up the company and I got personal recommendations for everyone from the web designer to my accountant.