Self-Starter Stories: From founding a dating website to launching an online marketplace for homewares and lifestyle products.
By: Nadine Burzler
This week's self-starter story features Rachael Wardle, founder of 'Oh What's This', -an Interiors and Lifestyle marketplace.
When Rachael moved in with her boyfriend 2 years ago, she couldn't find any homewares that she loved, so Rachael started searching elsewhere and blogging about her finds.
The blog grew into the OWT marketplace which is now packed with over 30 independent brands to shop from.
PickYourselfUK caught up with Rachael to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey.
Looking back, what lead you to be where you are today?: A lot of things! I lost my mum at an early age which for anyone who's been through loss you'll know the fire it puts in your belly (eventually) and the constant reminder of the impermanence of life.
From a young age I knew I wanted to start my own business, I just wasn't too sure what. Being an employee didn't feel right and I was restless to do my own thing. OWT is actually my second business, my first is still out there (datemy.co.uk)..
OWT started as a sort of passion outlet and accidentally turned into a business. It's still very much in the beginning stages, there's lots of work to be done and I need investment to improve it (I built the website myself) and put some solid marketing in place.
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: You can feel quite alone, no one gets the pressure and stress unless they've done the same. Money is a constant worry.
What did you want to be when you were a child?: It varied from an interior designer, to a weather woman, to a band manager, to owning a shop.
Thankfully my hero of a dad told me that to be a weather woman you need to be good at science, and I was in foundation, so that idea fizzled out. I think I just wanted to be on TV. I was obsessed with fashion, cutting up clothes (still do) and collecting Style magazine. I used to read about all the creative directors of fashion houses and decided that was the job for me. You could say that I am the creative director of my own brand now. I think we are lucky to live in a time now where if you can't find your dream job, you can create it.
What was your last job?: My last job was my first ever proper job. I was a product developer at a brand licensing agency. That was also a start up so I got to experience starting with 2 directors to watching the team grow to 10+.
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: You can't wait for things to come to you in life!!
What is your favourite business book and why?: I like reading autographies of successful woman. Jo Malone's book is inspiring and full of business tips. Also #girlboss obviously another inspiring business read. I also read the Lean Start Up and that was incredibly enriching.
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: I do everything. Although recently I've made the decision to maybe outsource some social, I love doing this but it's time consuming and I need to focus on other areas of the business.
What is your productivity secret?: Endless lists and stick to strict time limits.
How do you market your business?: All organically at the moment and all social media marketing (£0 budget) Instagram is the focus, with Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook not far behind. I also have a large spreadsheet of press contacts I've built up and work hard at getting press features.
When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: It started as family and friends. I think my boyfriend's mum was the very first paying customer. It then takes time to build engagement and trust for someone to make a purchase. I try to do a mix of promotion and interesting content - no one likes to see constant selling.
How did you get your first traffic to your website?: Through social media.
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: Are you crazy? Just kidding. Make sure you have the right amount of funding first and a solid marketing strategy.
Before you even think about starting a business make sure you're in it for passion not money. Success doesn't happen overnight and there will be times when you can't afford to eat anything other than beans, or you have to miss a friends birthday because you've got to work (been there done that). It's the passion that will drive you through moments like this & people who aren't willing to make sacrifices aren't entrepreneurs, so figuring this out first is key! Phew... I'll stop on my passion rant now...
If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: Sophia Amoruso - she's my absolute idol and spirit animal.
To follow Rachael's journey, you can do so via her social media channels and website linked below
Rachael Wardle has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.
Voting for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017 will take place in November 2017 so make sure you get your entry submitted to qualify.