Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m 33 and living in Bath on my own in a little place on the outskirts of town. I enjoy longboarding, support Bath and England rugby and spend my free time, (I don’t see much!), gaming.
I’ve been self-employed for almost 7 years, providing digital consultancy services to the eCommerce and eTail tech industries. In that time I’ve worked with a wide variety of customers as well as launching my own fashion resale business - The Found Stylist
What did you do before you went into your business?
I’ve been selling online since 2002, so it’s something I’ve been doing pretty much since it became a thing. I taught myself to build HTML websites when I was at school, so it was a natural transition to use something like eBay to help bring in extra cash by selling the things I didn’t need.
I had to leave college and start full time work to keep a roof over my head, so I worked hard in my free time building websites, learning how search engines work and how to effectively sell on eCommerce platforms. It sounds boring but it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing and it really kept me afloat when I was earning an awful junior salary.
I also did modelling work, which I spent a lot of time promoting on social media, via email, in forums and by blogging. People think of it as a relatively modern concept but back in 2004, I managed to forge a career in modelling using Livejournal.
I worked full time during the days in an office (my last job was as a paralegal) and booked shoots during evenings, weekends and my holidays. Modelling means you need a lot of stuff - props, outfits, costumes and the like - so I used to resell the stuff I’d shot on ebay, which is what eventually moved me toward eCommerce as a career choice.
What made you choose to create your own business?
My solicitor’s firm closed down in 2009 and I was posted on a project for a year in lieu of redundancy. I decided to have a look at what was available and one of the companies I had modelled for was advertising for a customer service rep. I applied, interviewed and it was suggested that with my experience I could go into product merchandising and writing. I was also modelling, doing video work and other bits and pieces - so self-employment made the most sense. With the offer of a strong, regular client on the table - I took the plunge!
How long have you been running your business for?
I started The Found Stylist in April 2016 when work started to dry up. The June referendum really mushed up my consultancy business as potential clients stopped spending in anticipation of a big crash against the dollar. Because my manufacturers buy and sell in dollars, they took a massive financial hit on outstanding orders as well as recouping less following the devaluation. It left me with no other option - I had to make the money myself.
Have you come across any sexist issues in owning your business?
Inappropriate comments, flirting and the sort, yes. One time I was bent over a desk and someone simulated fucking me from behind. That was some grade-A bullshit.
In terms of whether I can do my job? Not so far as I know.
What are your 3 pros and 3 cons of owning your own business?
In charge of your own work schedule
Working with beautiful clothing & accessories
Doing something I love
Saying goodbye to paid holiday and sick pay
I have to do everything from admin to sourcing to shipping
No guarantee of a paycheck - you have to really work for it
What are the main things that drive your passion in relation to your business?
I strongly believe in helping yourself make the most of your life. I’ve chosen to forge a lucrative and stable career ahead of having a good social life or relationship because I want to enjoy those things when I have them instead of worrying about work. I could spend my life working really hard in competition with my colleagues and take forever to reach my full potential or I can work hard now, learn from a bigger variety of businesses and hopefully start something great myself.
What’s your proudest moment in your business ownership so far?
When my digital consultancy leads dried up and The Found Stylist became everything, it was really scary. I only had my own possessions as a starting point and no back-up collateral, so being able to say that I’m now in a good place is an achievement. I’m just wrapping up a few small projects which saw me working 7 days a week for most of this year, and I’ve managed to invest in enough stock to really give things a push. The next few weeks will tell me if I need to take another client contract or not - that’s pretty exciting.
Who inspires you in relation to your work?
My friend Sara Child. She’s founded and sold a few businesses in her time as well as running her own C-level recruitment business. She and I met by chance when I was viewing a potential flat and although we’re incredibly different as people, the way she thinks really inspires me to see beyond my own viewpoint. She is so astute when it comes to business and is a real inspiration to me.
What advice would you give anyone thinking of starting their own business?
Your work ethic will be everything. No matter how you feel or what you want to do, you need to prioritise making your business work. I recommend starting your business in your free time, dedicating evenings or weekends to building it and be prepared to keep working at it.
Only start promoting your business when it’s ready - first impressions count.
Work quietly on your business plan, set up the website in secret and make sure you read about SEO ( If you use Wordpress - use Yeost and learn to set it up.) If you’re launching a blog, get some content in the bank so you aren’t playing catch-up.
Finally, don’t invite everyone in the world to like your stuff on social. Keep your additions relevant, personal and include a special offer.
You can follow and support The Found Stylist at the following: