Home Business Heroes: Victoria Eggs

 

Two thirds of all businesses are started from home, so, together with Viking, we thought it was time we found out more about the people swapping a desk in someone else's office for one in their own spare room.

Every month Smarta, in association with Viking, will knock on the door of a home business hero and ask them about First up, we meet Victoria Eggs.

Name: Victoria Eggs

Location: North London

Business: www.victoriaeggs.com

Victoria Eggs designs contemporary clothing, interior and giftware products from her home in North London. What started as a 'side project' in March 2011 has evolved into a full-time business, with designs now stocked in John Lewis and plans to starting selling in Japan in 2012.

Why did you launch Victoria Eggs?

I used to work as a t-shirt designer for Ben Sherman in Australia. When I moved back to the UK, I had loads of designs they didn't use and lots of ideas for new designs. So I decided to print them on some of my own t-shirts and sell them. My sister is a screen printer so she helped me and I got myself a spot at Spitalfield Market a few times, then another friend of mine built the website for me.  It's just grown organically from there.

How easy was it to find suppliers of t-shirts, mugs and towels?

It was surprisingly difficult. You can find tons of promotional mugs and t-shirts everywhere, but these aren't suitable for business. So after a lot of searching online and people saying, 'we don't, but try these', and so on, I eventually found suppliers who are brilliant. Everything I use is British-made, which I think is great, as it means I can go visit the manufacturers to see how everything's done and chat face-to-face. It's so much better than speaking over the phone.

What's it like running your business from home?

The house isn't designed for running a business, that's for sure.  However, I really like having everything under one roof. I work from my laptop, which is on my dining room table.

HBH1

It's so important that I keep everything tidy and in order as I have all of the stock stored here too. Almost every cupboard, draw, nook or cranny is filled with stock. You can't see it when you walk in though; it's all expertly packed away.

I can fit 300 mugs under my bed. I like having everything in one place. It means I can walk into one room and design products and then walk into another and start packing them up to send. It's so important to keep it tidy otherwise it feels like you never left the office.

HBH2

I have a business account with Royal Mail so I just package everything and then drop it off at the Post Office. It's so worth having a business account as it means you don't need to queue when you go down there either.

Tell us about your average day

There isn't one. It really varies. I love managing the whole businesses myself, but it does mean that I don't get to design as much as I'd like because I have to package up orders and deal with marketing. At the moment I'm dong a lot of promoting products and trying to get the sales in before Christmas.

How do you manage to keep yourself focused?

I dress as I did when I got up and went to 'the office' everyday. I think that's important: I couldn't work in my pyjamas, I wouldn't be able to get in a work zone.

I'm massively self-motivated, which is something you need to be in order to run a business from home. I never watch TV, so I there's no chance of me getting addicted to Loose Women or daytime TV. I don't have time: I always have a 'to do' list of a million things.

Do you find running a home business lonely?

At the start I often used to spend the whole day without speaking to anyone. That never happens anymore. I always have to make business calls but there are some days when I think, 'Oh I actually haven't even left the house today', and then I make myself take the rubbish out or something.

I never get lonely, I go out a lot more in the evenings than I used to. A lot of people who work in offices just want to go home and collapse at the end of the day, but for me I've spent the whole day at home so I just want to go out.

How have you managed to get your products into John Lewis and exported to Japan?

I was really lucky. I have some of my products on a website called http://www.notonthehighstreet.com and John Lewis found my stuff on there and got in contact with me. When I started that was always the shop I really wanted to get into so I was really pleased.  My products will be in their stores by February.

I also have some products in a shop in Carnaby Street in London and a Japanese buyer saw them and got in contact with me.  I'm not sure how it's going to work yet. I need to work out whether it'll be on a royalty basis or whether I export into Japan

Any tips for other Home Business Heroes?

Network. I've met a few people from attending networking events, but I'm definitely going to start attending more. The guy who writes all of my press releases was someone I met at a networking event. Even if you're not looking for anything, you normally end up meeting someone who can help you.

Do you have an accountant?

Luckily my tenant is an accountant. He uses the Intuit QuickBooks software to do my accounts for me. It's quite handy but it also means I can never be late with a deadline.

What's the best thing running a business from home?

No commute: that's brilliant. I really like just walking into my lounge and I'm at work. Also, the flexible hours, even though I've only taken six days holiday this year, it's nice knowing I can take a day whenever I want.

And the worst?

The tidy up. You have to clean up. I still want to feel like I'm at home - not work - come the end of the day. Having every cupboard in you house taken up by stock can get a bit annoying, but I never just leave everything lying around.

What would make life eaiser as a Home Business Hero?

How about a Tardis? I could keep all of my stock in there! Or just another room, where I could have my office. That would mean I would have my business in a room, which I could close the door on at the end of the day.

Home Business Heroes,in association with Vikingnew

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