Smart Girl Tribe: What was the catalyst for becoming a female founder?
Amy: I’ve always been inspired by my dad who was at the top of his game in the construction industry, then went on to have his own business. He’s an entrepreneur through and through, and I’ve always known that I ultimately wanted to be one too. My lightbulb moment was when I was struggling working full time in London and living out in Oxford, and I saw launching my business as a way of giving myself greater freedom, and to express my creativity. So I took the leap!
S: What was your journey before starting your own business?
A: I didn’t go to university, but started a job on reception at a local construction and logistics company. It felt like a natural fit having watched my dad over the years, plus I knew that I was organised. Within two and a half years, I was looking after the marketing for the company, and realised that I loved copywriting and working with teams of people to create a vision. After that, I went to work as a private PA for a family in Belgravia. It was one of the most challenging periods of my life, but it taught me how important it is to have grit and a thick skin, which has come in incredibly handy since starting my business! After that, I started at the studio and haven’t looked back. I’ve been there for 4 years (with a short break in the middle to work for a dating app that we don’t talk about!) and I launched my biz in November 2017.
S: Who has had the greatest influence on your work?
A: My mentor, Lucy Sheridan (@lucysheridan on Instagram) had a huge influence on my business in the beginning. She is a comparison coach, and encouraged me to push forward with my ideas even when I wasn’t convinced of them myself. I aspire to have the power and grace of Michelle Obama, with the resilience and determination of my Nana. She ran the women’s fashion floor at Harrods for years and is the feistiest, most elegant woman I have ever known.
S: That’s fascinating. How did you fund the business at the start and how did you secure
customers in the beginning?
A: My business has always been self funded through holding down a part time job working for a visualisation studio Monday-Wednesday. I LOVE the work that I do at the studio, so I currently get to have my cake and eat it too. I secured customers at the beginning by launching my business to my close network of people who I had worked with before in other contexts, friends and family. Through shares and recommendations- that was enough for the business to get its initial momentum.
S: What is a habit that contributes most to your success?
A: It’s a boring one – lists! I pride myself on very rarely dropping the ball on anything, and that is down to a curated series of lists that I can’t live without. Each of my clients has their own list pinned up on the wall, with absolutely every action point spelled out. It looks overwhelming, but it means I don’t get muddled and can systematically work through everything.
S: What do you do when lacking inspiration?
A: I reach out to my community. Whether that is going on a dog walk with my best friend Krista (who also runs her own biz, @zendenoxford) or organising a co-working morning with members of my business community, The Oxford Collective, I always find that spending time with others helps kickstart my inspiration again.
S: How important is social media for your business?
A: Social media is a great way to keep in touch with the communities that you have built, and to share information about what is coming up in your business but I do my best to keep the majority of my work away from social media. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel tied to posting everyday, and I realised a while ago that the time I was spending fretting about my instagram posts would be much better spent on client strategy planning, or reaching out directly to potential clients. It’s partly due to the nature of my business, I only want to attract around 10 clients a year, plus I am service based rather than product based, so working offline to build relationships is going to be much more useful than driving traffic to my website via social media. So social media isn’t hugely important to me, but I do it because it is fun, and a gateway to other people who share a vision.
S: Best career advice you would tell others?
A: Just. keep. going. At the beginning, there will be people, even those closest to you, who will question what you are doing. They are also the ones that will be riding on your coat tails when your business is a huge success. Don’t get distracted by them, find people around you who believe in what you are doing, and just. keep. going.
“I currently get to have my cake and eat it too.”
S: What is the challenge you face most regularly?
A: Finding the time to achieve everything that I want to do. I’m currently working to change this mindset, inspired by my client and friend Gail Love Schock (@gail_loveschock on Insta) to go from a mindset of ‘time insufficiency’ to ‘time abundance’. I don’t have to do everything today, this week, or this year, but when you are ambitious sometimes this is easier said than done!
S: What are the three traits every business owner needs then do you think?
A: Resilience, charisma, and a rock solid sense of humour.
S: I’ve definitely needed to see the funny side in certain situations. It’s one thing I can’t live without. What couldn’t you live without Amy?
A: My family – in particular my extraordinary boyfriend James who has to put up with me being a workaholic who is, as he would put it, ‘consistently inconsistent’. I’m so organised in my work life that he has to put up with what happens when I come home and things can get a little chaotic! Also my puppy, Earnest, who is the love of my life and gives me perspective.
S: The hardest part of your journey so far?
A: Realising that when you launch something that you are proud of, not everyone is going to come with you. Launching your own business can change your relationships with people in ways you aren’t expecting, sometimes it is to do with jealousy, and most of the time it has very little to do with you. The best thing you can do is use networking, locally and globally, to find people who are your cheerleaders. I did this by launching The Oxford Collective (@theoxfordcollective), and I’m also part of a global network called The Coven (@thecovengirlgang) that connects me with other female entrepreneurs all over the world.
S: You are doing such amazing things. What is next for you and the business?
A: More travel in 2019. Deeper, richer relationships with my clients. Business growth for them and for me. Abundance. Growing networks. Joy.
S: And lastly, what would you tell your younger self?
A: Babes, it is going to get SO MUCH BETTER. Just hang in there and keep working hard. When it seems that you are lost and everyone else is going to uni, that is when you are going to flourish. Don’t lose your warmth and sparkle, it’s going to be the making of you. Just keep going.
Fashion- As a freelancer what does your everyday outfit look like? My signature look: Lucy and Yak dungarees, long sleeved top, big glasses, slippers and a top knot!
Books- One entrepreneurial book you would recommend? ‘Little Black Book’ by Otegha Uwagba.
Event Etiquette- What is one rule guests should abide by? As soon as you arrive, introduce yourself to someone who seems interesting, and find a drink/something to eat. If you look comfortable and hold space in the room then others will do the same.
Travelling- When working is there a particular beauty product that you swear by? My ‘Saje’ essential oil roll on. I always have it on me, as it grounds me to home wherever I am in the world.
Author: Scarlett Victoria Clark
Scarlett Victoria Clark is Founder and Editor of SMART GIRL TRIBE and a multi-lingual journalist. She has also written for Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Women’s Health. When not writing she enjoys travelling and shopping for (more) heels.