PickYourself UK
Pick Yourself UK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year awards and platform for self-starters in the UK


PickYourself UK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year entries

#SelfStarterStories: From being a professional buyer to creating her own millinery brand

This week's #selfstarterstory features Lisa Steane, Founder of 'The Bobby Pin'.

#PickYourselfUK caught up with Lisa to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey.

What was your last job?: Head Buyer for Toys and Children's Apparel

When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: Spring 2016 I decided to give up my corporate job and focus on something that I always wanted to do which was to set up and run my own business.

I had been a very successful Buyer working for some of the biggest companies abroad and in the UK over the years so I knew I wanted to ultimately do it for myself one day. I had the skills and knowledge but just didn't have a huge amount of funds to get started but in the end, I just had to have a leap of faith and jump in setting up on a shoestring.

The decision that drove me to being my own boss was when I returned to my full-time buying job after having a baby. I felt that the corporate world was very unkind and unsympathetic to my new circumstances and that I felt I was being treated differently now I was a Mother.

This made me more determined to get my business off the ground because ultimately if I did I could make my business fit my new life without feeling guilty. So I chose myself because the someone else didn't deserve my skills, commitment and loyalty anymore and it was the best decision I ever made.

What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: The most challenging part of starting a business is that you have to wear every hat. I used to concentrate on the Buying aspect of my job and had the relevant departments around me to help with all the other stuff.

When you are on your own you very much have to be all the hats and have to learn how to be an Accountant, Sales Person, Marketer, Secretary etc. This was a challenge but also the best part of starting up in a new business. You learn so much from putting all these hats on and gain some really valuable skills.

What is your favourite business book and why?: Business In Blue Jeans. This book is about how you can become a very successful entrepreneur without the corporate suit and tie. It's about being an individual and doing things that suit your life and how you want to grow your business.

I love this book as I am in a more creative environment now and I did find it strange at first that I didn't wear the power suits anymore. This book is a great read for anyone who has been in the corporate world and now faces a new chapter in a different environment.

Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: I do everything myself in the business apart from my Photography which is done by my closest friend who owns a Photography Business: FKB Photography.

What is your favourite marketing tool ?: My favourite marketing tool is Buffer I use it to plan all my social media each week. Social media is very important to my business but it is also very time-consuming. Having a schedule and buffer makes it so much easier to send out posts. Once they are set on the calendar I do not need to worry about that for the rest of the week which gives me more time to make my pieces and spend time with my customers.

How do you market your business?: 

  • I market my business through social media channels; Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.
  • I also appear in many bridal publications like Wedding Ideas Magazine, You & Your Wedding, Elle.
  • I do many staged wedding shoots that go in UK blogs and magazines throughout the year so this keeps my business brand out in the public eye.

When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: When I first launched I was really lucky to have been offered some very cheap advertising in the September issue of Wedding Ideas Magazine.

This was huge for me but the magazine really liked my pieces and they gave me a chance to be seen by a mass audience.

This was where my first customers came from as I hadn't really got to grips with my social media by then so it was where most if not all my customers came from.

How did you get your first traffic to your website?: Again, I think it was from the Wedding Ideas publication in the September 2016 edition. It was a full page spread and very eye-catching. My website details were in the publication so every customer came in from that.

The Bobby Pin Website January 2018

Nominate one person/friend who believed in you from the start, and what would you like to say to them today?: Faye Kenny, she is my best friend and also my business photographer.

She always believed in me and pushed me to be better and do more when I felt that it was too hard. I tell her all the time how much she has helped me on this journey and I couldn't have done it without her support.

What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: I would say it is a massive gamble to give up a monthly pay cheque but if you feel you have nothing to lose then I say go for it.

It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but the most rewarding too. I am so proud of my business and my life now. I think you work much harder but you can also make it fit your life and circumstances much more than a 9-5 job. I love that I get to see my 3-year-old more and can work in the day or at night and do whatever suits me.

I am glad I did it and I do miss the security of a salary some weeks but what you give up in money you sometimes gain a much better lifestyle and quality of life.

If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: I would go to dinner with Michelle Moan I think she is a great ambassador for women in business. She built Ultimo on her own and did such an amazing job from being made redundant from her job. It took her 3 long years to design and get her brand off the ground but her dedication and hard work got her it to the most respected high street store Selfridges for her launch.

To stay up to date with Lisa's entrepreneurial journey, please find her on Facebook below:

Lisa Steane has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2018. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.