In this feature meet the inspiring women who set up and run their dream businesses. See what makes these entrepreneurs tick, where they get their inspiration from, and how they manage work and home life.
PHILIPPA, from the homeware business The Maker Place
Philippa is a Mum of 3 and runs her own online business TheMakerPlace.co.uk which sells homeware with a design-led focus. Here she talks about setting up that dream business and how she manages it alongside her home life.
So Philippa, what is your background?
I started my career working in marketing for a large children’s book publisher, then moved over to marketing for a magazine publisher. I loved the creative aspects of my work and working with children’s books in particular was a lot of fun! I took voluntary redundancy when my second little one came along and took a ‘break’ for a few years (I love how we call bringing up children a break – ha ha!) to look after the kids and have another baby before I started working on my ideas for TheMakerPlace.co.uk
Why & when did you start your business?
In the back of my mind I always had a plan to work for others in my 20’s, then start a family, then start my own business. I’ve always had that interest in working for myself and a drive to launch a business. Whether waiting to have kids before starting something is the right way to do it or not, I don’t know! What I’ve found though is that having kids has given me a confidence that I don’t think I’d have had previously to just get out there and give it a go!
I’ve always had a great love of interior design and craftsmanship and was excited by growing the number of craftspeople making such beautiful, trend-led and stylish work. I’ve always liked the idea of buying through marketplaces where I know makers get a bigger cut of the retail price than when they sell through conventional retailers, but, although I really admire the bigger craft marketplaces that exist, I could see a gap for a curated, style-led marketplace that only showcased the very best quality, trend-led independent design.
I had the idea for TheMakerPlace.co.uk to act as a platform to showcase makers’ work in its best light and connect people with the very best in independent UK-based design and craftsmanship with a design-led focus. It took me a year from the initial idea through the research and development phase, website building and adding our first makers’ work on to the site, before we launched in March 2016.
Where do you work from?
I have a desk at home which is my hub, but I often grab time as and when I can on the go, to update social media and reply to emails via my smartphone!
How many people do you employ?
At the moment it’s just me!
Where do you get your inspiration/ideas for the business?
By reading lots of design magazines and blogs, from so many wonderful people I have connected with on social media, from getting out and meeting people at design and craft fairs and most importantly from our wonderful, talented makers. I am truly in awe of their skill and dedication to their own work; being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, whether it’s in retail or making and selling your own work so I am inspired and motivated by them to keep pushing the business forward.
How many children do you have?
I have a 6 year old boy, and 4 year old girl and a (nearly) 2 year old girl.
How do you balance work and your own family life?
Ah the million dollar question! It is a juggling act! I am lucky that my eldest is at school and my younger two love their fantastic pre-school and so I have some time during the week to get my head down, but I also work (most) evenings and whenever else I get a spare hour or so! Launching a new business is always a full-on experience so I’m still working hard to find that balance and as the kids grow-up and the youngest two go to school, that will continue to evolve, I think!
What does the future hold for your business?
I have so many plans and ideas for TheMakerPlace.co.uk! I’ve just launched our first New Talent Search to try and discover fresh talent to bring to the site and I hope to continue to grow our list of makers over the coming months. I’m also looking into ideas and possible locations for our first pop-up, which I hope to set-up sometime this autumn.
This is such an exciting time for craftsmanship in the UK and one thing I’ve been really keen to do from the early days, when TheMakerPlace.co.uk was still just an idea, is to collaborate with others within the crafts and design world to try and support makers and also get more people interested in buying handmade and trying making for themselves too – so that’s something I’ll be looking towards getting more involved with as the business moves forward as well!