What if you’re more interested in starting your own business than working for someone else with a regular 9 till 5 job? Behold an exclusive interview with Isabelle founder of Beldora.co.uk – the luxury homewares online store. We get down to some burning questions on her career and how Beldora has been built to the success it is now.
Q: What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture? How did the idea for your business come about?
A: Whilst on a holiday in the far east taking a a gap year from uni in my late teens, to explore the world a bit, I visited a friends manufacturing factory and was impressed at such beautiful home furnishings made from scratch to the finish product, complete in its packaging – what added to my bewilderment was at how low it would end up costing the Importers, I thought back to walking the aisles in major department stores back home, glancing at the terrifying price tags and it didn’t add up. After getting back to the UK, I did some research and found that prices in these department stores inflated due to shiny shops, expensive rent, costly photo-shoots (you get the idea) all of which the customer pays for in the price. It suddenly hit me that it would make common sense to create an easy way of still getting the best quality bed and bath products but without all the silly overheads. After all you spend about one third of your time in your bed, not the bag it comes in.
Q: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Isabelle: You need a sound Strategy and stick to it but don’t be afraid to tweak where needed, Sales is massively important, i dont mean just getting lots of orders, I mean when you’re discussing your brand, delivering your pitch, negotiating with suppliers, we dont realize it but a lot of the time we are selling. Communication is key – you’ve got to maintain clear lines of communication with your customers via email and phone, as well as ensure that the message you send through your website and social-media profiles is the one you want.
Q: How do you define success?
Isabelle: For me I think success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.
Q: How do you build a successful customer base?
Isabelle: We have built a successful customer base over the years by working tirelessly on giving the best customer service, supplying beautiful and quality products, adding a personal touch in our communications with the customer and following up by encouraging repeat business – these are some key points we consider when delivering the best possible experience when customers choose Beldora.
Q: How important have good employees been to your success?
Isabelle: They have been exceptionally important, when we were just a start-up I was juggling the accounting work and the sales and the order fulfillment whilst directing the business! There comes a stage where you have to unload your work on to others who are great at what they do, building a team around you and trusting them with what you can’t do, will only help in your companies growth and your brand excelling.
Q: Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Isabelle: I don’t believe there is some sort of pattern or formula, a lot of young people looking to start out in business look for some secret set of instructions which will help them to be rich beyond their wildest dreams, the truth is – there is none, there is only hard graft, sweat and (maybe) tears, have a lot of patience, keep going when things get tough and soon you’ll realize what a thing of beauty you achieved when you’ve set your heart and mind to a certain purpose.
Q: In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Isabelle: I know its probably considered a cliche now but one giant – Rollercoaster 😉
I am so glad I decided to rearrange my schedule and treat myself to a much needed weekend away! I firmly believe one should treat oneself to some special “me time” once in a while, whether it be a trip to a day spa, enjoying an afternoon of reading in the garden or a weekend away.
Having heard such wonderful things over the years about Calcot Manor and the fact that I adore the Cotswolds, anytime of the year, that is where I set my sights. Since it was still late winter, I made sure to bring along some of my cosiest pieces including a fabulous Beldora Faux Fur Arctic Blanket to snuggle with in my room. I don’t want to give the wrong impression here, Calcot Manor has every amenity a guest could ever wish for, but there is something about having one’s own blanket to curl up with, don’t you think?
I had a lovely weekend at Calcot Manor and even treated myself to a Volcanic Hot Stone Massage. (I still get the chills thinking of that marvelous and relaxing massage.) Not wanting to miss a minute, I rose early every morning to walk about the grounds and have an early breakfast with my current read. The food at the Conservatory was divine — I figured my early morning walks warranted some mouth-watering food but you will be proud, I resisted the temptation of the Apple and Blackberry Crumble (which looked heavenly, the couple next to me shared it and it was all I could do to not ask for a bite!)
On my last morning there, I arose extra early to get in a swim before breakfast. It was heavenly, no one else was in the pool yet so I had the whole place to myself it was like my own private pool at my lovely country estate. Then it was a simple breakfast of tea and toast and farewell to my home for the weekend. I hope to return to Calcot Manor in the not too distant future, but I will admit, it is nice to be back home (feeling very relaxed, refreshed and a little bit spoilt!) My wish for everyone this week is for you to have some special “me time” and treat yourself, even if it is something very small, to something that refreshes and re-energizes you and makes you happy!