I’m rolling out a new series of interviews with brilliant people who have embraced their wings in life and business and are flying high.
First up is Lyndsey Goodger, Founder of (drool) Rose & Grey – the inspirational homeware boutique that specialises in vintage / industrial and Scandi style.
The brand celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and I caught up with Lyndsey to talk about the journey so far.
Where did the idea for Rose & Grey come from and what did you do before that?
Guy and I lived and worked in London but then moved to Altrincham after the birth of our first son, Fin. We both worked in Media in London and wanted a fresh challenge. I worked at Channel 4 in the Acquisitions team for their DVD department. In my role I worked on marketing plans, press releases and photoshoots so lots of skills that I could bring to launching a business.
At the time it was really hard to find gorgeous things for your home away from the high street and we had discovered some really great products that weren’t available online. We wanted to launch a website with a curated collection of our favourite homewares bursting with personality but needed to create a website with all of the visual style and punch of the big brands on a small budget.
When and how did you start? And what made you take the leap?
Rose & Grey was launched in 2008 just after the birth of our second son, Ollie. I had left my job at this point and so it seemed like good timing and I fitted the planning around his nap times. The plan was that Guy would continue in his job to support us financially in our early days and then join the business later.
We had about £12,000 worth of savings about half of which went into stock. I worked from home and used a third party logistics to send out products. As the company grew, I moved into an office and started taking on staff but the biggest change for the business came in 2014 when Guy joined the company and we took on the warehouse.
The company has grown organically and quickly over the 10 years and there are now 10 of us meaning I now no longer have to wear lots of different hats and can focus on the bit I love the most.
Did you always know you made the right decision to start up?
I don’t think we’ve ever looked back to be honest. It always felt the right job for me. There have, of course, been challenges along the way. Being in the ever changing landscape of online retail can be tough at times and we are kept constantly on our toes.
In 2014 we saw a big drop off in traffic to the website from Google as Google had made a change in how people could find you online. It was a tough and challenging time but it prompted us to get a showroom and that was our best ever decision to date.
Given the timing of launch, did the recession play a part in going for online over a physical store or was the plan always to be online first?
In the early days we only ever imagined being online as we didn’t want the overheads of a physical shop. The plan was to eventually get a mail order catalogue which were really popular at the time but when we were able to move into bigger premises we changed our strategy.
By opening a showroom in our warehouse space we were able to keep overheads low but offer customers another way to shop with us .
Did you ever experience self doubt and fear?
Yes I think everyone experiences self doubt from time to time. We have had to make some big financial decisions over the years and when taking the plunge to do something big and costly, such as when we decided to open the showroom, there were days when I really worried that we were doing the right thing.
Personally, if I have a strong gut feel that something will work out, and I’ve done my research to back it up, then I believe it’s worth giving it a go. I don’t believe in failure as when things don’t go to plan, we come up with another plan and go with that instead. I love the saying ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ and remember that If it was easy then everybody would be doing it.
How do you stay motivated and keep things fresh?
It’s easy to stay motivated as we’re discovering such beautiful products all the time. We do a photoshoot every month and in each we add around 40-60 new products to the website. It keeps us all interested in the office as there is always lots of new eye candy to look at. The showroom gets a refresh regularly too so we never keep still.
In my spare time I get lots of inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest. I love redecorating at home so I’m lucky to do what I do. I never get bored.
What’s your plan for 2018?
We’re expanding the warehouse, office and showroom this year which is really exciting! We are also going to travel more for inspiration and to find more unique products. We are always working on getting the right work life balance for ourselves and our staff and have added a puppy into the mix now who is very cute and loves wandering around the showroom greeting customers.
What would be your best piece of advice for anyone just starting out or thinking about starting a business?
I would definitely say do your research, know your market and bring something new to the table. Trust your instinct and believe in yourself.
All images credits Rose & Grey