This week we caught up with Natalie, founder of
Natalie Holden Interiors, who says that the help of Enterprise Hub gave her the
support she needed to grow her interior design business.
Hi – we are Natalie Holden Interiors, and we are an interior design company, working on both residential and commercial projects including, show homes, full house renovations, house extensions, holiday homes and Airbnb's, boutique hotels, retail, cafés and restaurants. Our mission is to help our clients create authentic spaces that they feel proud of, enjoy spending time in and reflect their personality or brand.
What did you do prior to setting up your own business?
I worked for a couple of other companies for a number of years gaining varied experience on both commercial and high-end residential projects. It was invaluable and allowed me to develop a wider skillset that is essential to be both a great designer and business owner.
What made you decide to set up in business and choose the type of business you run?
I wanted to make a change in the industry and to be able to showcase how interior design can benefit people’s lives on a deeper level. I believe interior design should not just be about creating a fancy space to impress others. A well-designed space can be of real value to our lives; to inspire us, reduce stress, increase sales, increase ROI, improve our health and wellbeing, create community, keep us motivated and productive and it can even save us money amongst many other things.
Where is your business based?
We work on projects across the entire North West; mainly on the Wirral, Manchester and Cheshire. It’s great because it keeps the job interesting!
Once you had decided you wanted to set up a business, what steps did you take to get the ball rolling and how did you feel?
I started my business on the side of my full-time job working on a few show home design and styling projects. After gaining lots of contacts in the property industry I decided to take the plunge as I thought it was either now or never. I felt a complete mixture of emotions when I first handed in my notice; I felt completely empowered and excited to be able to fully focus on my dream, but I was also slightly terrified of not knowing where my money was going to come from each month!
What is unique about your business?
We’re making a conscious effort to source more sustainably, and we have a design approach that prioritises wellbeing just as much as form and function. The pandemic and what we have gone through over the past 12 months has only amplified this.
Did you face any barriers to starting up, or did you find any aspects of it particularly daunting?
The hardest thing about setting up my own business was the loneliness of running something by myself initially and the pressure of having to spin so many plates. Luckily, I was very organised and had a strong business development plan which helped me transition into getting regular work quite quickly.
What different roles do you juggle around running your business, and how do you manage that?
I currently don’t have any children which makes things so much easier, but I do have a fur baby (a chocolate cockapoo called Theo who turned 5 this year). He is the best dog ever and keeps my spirits high. He helps me to maintain more of a work life balance by reminding me when it’s time for walkies!
Did you train at any local colleges or Universities?
I studied at Liverpool John Moore’s University and graduated in 2010 with a First Class Honours Degree in Interior Design. We are currently now on their internship programme hosting an intern for a month!
What support did you receive from Enterprise Hub programme?
I attended the start-up business workshops on offer and had one on one appointments with a business mentor. It was absolutely brilliant and helped me to stay informed and on track.
How are things going so far with your business, and how has it grown since you worked with Enterprise Hub?
I launched the business three years ago and things have gone from strength to strength. We now have a small team and are undergoing an exciting re-brand and website update which will be launching very soon.
What is the best thing about running your own business?
I love that I have full control over my day and have the flexibility to adapt to client’s needs without having to get approval from anyone else. My business doesn’t feel like work to me – it's more of a passion project and my aim is for that feeling to shine through to the client’s we work with, so that they get just as excited as us on the projects we work on together.
If a friend of yours was looking to set up their own business, based on your experiences and the things you have learned, what advice would you give them?
I would say be prepared to work hard as you have to invest a lot of time and energy at first, so it’s really important to look after yourself. Running a business is exciting but it doesn’t come easy, and it can often feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster day in day out for a period of time. It’s so important to have a good support network around you during this process.
What advice would you give someone looking to grow their business from your experience?
I’d definitely recommend finding a business coach or mentor! Having someone to give me business advice, encouragement, and to act as a sounding board to bounce ideas off has been the most helpful thing for me to push my business forward.
How do you feel about what you have achieved so far?
I feel really proud of myself because I didn’t much confidence when I was younger. As a young woman, I didn’t think I’d be capable of running my own business or think I'd be taken seriously. I actually believed that everyone I knew would just laugh the moment I told them. Luckily times are changing and women have just as must encouragement and support to start their own business’ as men.
How many people do you employ?
I now have 1 employee working 3 days a week and a couple of freelancers that work ad hoc.
What lessons have you learned or interesting highlights have there been in your journey.
I've learnt that listening is one of the most important skills to have when creating a design for a client. You can be a great designer, but if you don’t listen and understand the brief, it’ll get you nowhere!
Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself, your journey, your business and your future plans?
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