Name: Helen Salmon
This week we speak to Helen Salmon, co-owner of www.justchaps.com. She bought her business with her husband Mike 20 months ago, and has overseen its continued growth from the spare room of a house as she puts it, " covered in chaps.". . The horse riding kind, ladies.
The business was set up in 2003 by a rider who was always out on her horse on the moors where it was freezing, so she decided to make herself a pair of full chaps. Then a friend asked if she could make her a pair, then another friend and it grew from there. We were looking for a business to buy and Just Chaps made sense. We have two ponies and I like working from home and the freedom that brings. Now we design and manufacture probably the widest range of full and half chaps around.
We haven't had to borrow or get outside investment. We bought the business with hard-earned cash and we've managed to further it by increasing our range and making sure we're at all the main equestrian events. We're also redesigning our website at the minute too, which will benefit the business too.
I'm based at home. I work round the corner in the family room and we have a big store room which is at home too. My house is covered in chaps. They are in the kitchen, in the hall, in the office and on the ironing board.
I was at home before we bought the business, as I'm with the children, the dog and the two ponies. I find working at home just makes the rest of life easier.
There are lots of interuptions throughout the day but you just have to focus. It's not something I have to try hard to do, you just get used to being distracted and then switching back to work. You just get on with it, you know?
Just Chaps is always on my mind and I'm always trying to do a bit. The difficulty is I never really have a day off. Even when I'm on holiday I still get emails and I think, "I'll just spend 10 minutes doing this or that." It's far too easy to check things when you have a Blackberry and don't even have to turn on a computer to read an email. But I love what I do. It's just one of those things and I'm not worried about it, as it doesn't spoil my holiday, I'm interested in everything that's going on in the business.
I'm always talking to someone, whether it's on the school run, on the phone to a client or delivering the parcels full of chaps. It's never lonely, it's too busy to be lonely.
We have a designer who creates the chaps and we source the materials abroad. We inherited the two factories we use. They are based in Pakistan, but we've met the owners a few times and we talk on the phone a lot. I think it's important to have a good relationship with your suppliers.
I think as long as you want to succeed you will and if it's your business then you'll be motivated to succeed. It's all down to you, if you don't work hard then your business will fail.
The flexibility of it and the fact family life can continue. If there's a problem at home, then I'm here. Plus I'm very lucky as I find the industry I work in so exciting.
Having to tidy up all the time as the chaps are all over my house. But really, it's no problem. Working from home is fantastic.
For more information on Just Chaps, visit: www.justchaps.com
Photography by Caitlin Salmon
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