Camilla's Startup Story

This is Camilla, Escape School Alum and Founder of Lilla Rugs. Here she share’s her startup story…

1. What business have you started and why?

Lilla Rugs. An online boutique that sells beautiful handmade rugs, handpicked from their country of origin. Each rug is one of a kind. They are all fair trade, locally produced and are made using eco-conscious materials. It initially started as a creative outlet, where I compiled interior inspiration and photos of a lot of handmade rugs. I soon realised that my followers wanted to get their hands on the rugs I was posting, so I launched my Etsy shop in February 2017.

2. What were you doing before and why did you want to be an entrepreneur?

I’ve been working full time in Advertising until the end of 2017. I always viewed it as my ‘young’ career and knew that it wasn’t my forever job. I’ve always known that I’d never be fully content whilst working for someone else, and in order to feel the value & purpose of my every day, it would need to be something of my own.

My mum and dad set up an oriental rug wholesale company when we moved to London a couple months after I was born, so rugs have been in my life for as long as I can remember. My older brother and I were lucky enough to travel around Iran as children, visiting all the weavers in villages across the country. From a young age, I learnt about the incredible stories behind each and every rug, direct from the families that weaved them.

Being brought up by two entrepreneurs, I’ve always known I would also be one. It just took me a little while to realise that what I should be doing was to take all of this passion and knowledge and put my own spin on how the rugs were presented: redressing tradition for a new generation.

3. How did you begin your entrepreneurial journey?

As I mentioned, it all began on Instagram, and then on to my Etsy shop. For months I didn’t really view it as anything more than a side hobby. The journey truly began when I joined the Escape Startup Accelerator in September. Through everything I learnt, the support of all the other entrepreneurs, and the commitment to doing work that matters, I was given the confidence to take the plunge and really start life as an entrepreneur.

4. What have been some key milestones since then?

Gosh, there have been so many! A couple of the big ones:

April 2017: First bit of press coverage in Country & Town House.

May 2017: First buying trip to Fez, Morocco.

July 2017: First month that my Lilla Rugs earnings were equal to my Advertising job.

October 2017: I quit my job.

5. What was the best advice you received/most helpful thing you did?

By far the best thing I did was join the Escape the City Startup Accelerator. My two biggest challenges were time and tools. Working full time in Advertising wasn’t exactly a 9-5 career, but the escape programme helped me carve out the time to truly commit to Lilla Rugs. The other challenge was that I didn’t know the best tools to build everything: the website, fulfilment, SEO etc. Turns out there are so many, and I wouldn’t have known where to start had Escape not told me! Top three: Canva, Typeform, and Drift.

6. What was the hardest part and how to did you overcome it?

The hardest part was that I was pretty scared working on my own would be really lonely. I’ve realised that being around people is super important to my well being, and so the thought of sitting in my kitchen alone all day wasn’t a good one! Through meeting everyone on the Escape course and generally being exposed to the huge community of entrepreneurs in London, I realised that there is no need to be afraid of being alone. There are such great co-working spaces, like Work.Life, and so many events to attend, you’re more likely to struggle for alone time!

7. How do you feel you’ve changed during the process of launching and running your own business?

I now have much more confidence and believe I can do it. I don’t feel like I’m alone, and have so much more support than I ever could have imagined.

8. What are you focusing on now?

I’m officially going to be full-time Lilla Rugs founder as of January 2018, hurray! The next step is to really clarify what the first three months need to achieve. I have so many ideas in my head, I’ll need to prioritise.

9. How’s it all feeling?

Incredibly exciting! Slightly terrifying, but in a good way.

In comparison with my full-time job in Advertising, I feel a big sense of relief and freedom. I can’t wait to dictate the way my days will go and for the only pressure to come from myself.

10. What key advice would you want to share with someone wanting to start their own business?

If you’re passionate about something, you can learn all of the ways to run it as a business. You can’t teach passion. So just go for it! Don’t over think things, just make baby steps and get things out there day by day.

11. How can we help you?

I’d love to build good relationships with some interior designers. If you know any, please do send them my way! I’m also looking for interesting content around interiors and entrepreneurship so please do get in touch if you’re interested in writing something for Lilla Rugs.

Camilla completed Escape’s Startup Accelerator course in November 2017. If you’re interested in launching your own business and being part of an inspiring and unique entrepreneurial community, learn more here.

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