Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Mentoring support from Enterprise Hub 'absolutely brilliant' for Natalie Holden Interiors.



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 Natalie – what is your business all about?

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, caf├ęs 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?

 I’m mixed race; half Chinese and half English and it was quite a challenge growing up being in a minority group that didn’t really fit into any boxes. I always felt like the odd one out and embarrassed about my heritage, so I never wanted to draw attention to myself in case I was teased. I also used to be really shy and quiet in school and struggled with social anxiety! Starting my own business was quite a big achievement for me because of this, as I had no role models in similar circumstances. I hope that I can be a role model for any women who feel out of place or not confident enough to achieve their goals and show that it is possible!

 How can someone find out more about your business or get in touch?

Our website is www.natalieholden.com and my email is info@natalieholden.com - we offer a free initial consultation to find out how we can help with a project.

Follow us on Instagram for behind the scenes @n_h_interiors


Wednesday, 12 May 2021

The Sicilian Way Is On The Way Up for Daniel!

 When you have the Sicilian family heritage and connections that Daniel D’Ambrogio has, then it’s no surprise that the food products he will be importing through his new company, The Sicilian Way, are of the highest quality.  But where did it all start?

As one of The Wirral Enterprise Hub’s youngest clients, 21 year-old Daniel has had an entrepreneurial flair from a young age. Taking inspiration from his dad, who runs his own law firm, Daniel acquired the taste to ‘be his own boss’ whilst working for the family firm, gaining some invaluable business skills such as website design, sourcing of products and customer service. Despite having the opportunity to continue within the family business, Daniel was determined to hone his skills and energy into something he had a passion for – and which person with Sicilian blood doesn’t have a passion for Mediterranean food?  It was a no- brainer, it had to be done ‘The Sicilian Way’.

So, what products does The Sicilian Way import?  Initially, these will be extra virgin olive oil, garlic, anchovies, salami and cheese!!  Now this is where the family connections come in, Daniel says, “A lot of our products come surrounding towns where my family come from, this means that we have local suppliers that we have known for years and have complete trust and faith they make truly incredible product”. Having the inside track on local Sicilian suppliers and an in-depth knowledge of Sicilian produce, the business will ensure that the products are not only of the highest quality, but taste fantastic too!  As the company motto states: “The Sicilian Way – All About The Taste!” Daniel continues, “We import handpicked, taste tested products to make sure they are second to none. We quality control our Olive Oil to make sure it is true authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We want to make sure we are sourcing and offering only the best to ensure we give our customers the true Sicilian experience”.

Daniel has big plans for the future too.  As well as collaborating with other businesses and looking to become a regular at local farmers’ markets, he eventually wants to have his own premises.  He would also like to expand his product range to include quality wines, the perfect accompaniment to all those fine cheeses! 

So, what advice does Daniel wish to share with us?  “Focus on believing,” he says.  “I’ve always had big dreams and when I’ve been unsure, I’ve thought ‘just try it!’  If it works, great, but if not, at least I’ve given it a shot.”

And how did Enterprise Hub help?  Daniel responds by saying: “The Enterprise Hub has helped me incredibly and Heidi’s huge knowledge in business has supported me throughout.  They offered me amazing free courses and one-to-ones where I gained so much valuable information.  Also, Wirral Chamber have been very supportive through Louis in the International Trade Team helping me with my commodity codes and not to mention Independent Wirral, a great marketing platform for local businesses like myself.

If you would like to get in touch with Daniel at The Sicilian Way, you can e-mail him at info@thesicilianway.co.uk, visit the website at www.thesicilianway.co.uk  or contact via  social media at Instagram – www.instagram.com/thesicilianwayltd or Facebook (www.facebook.com/The-Sicilian-Way-104094818411225)