In the latest post celebrating the start-up stories of Enterprise Nation members, Sophie Bush outlines how she came up with the idea for Warehouse Home, a media and e-commerce brand providing inspiration for New York style loft living.
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Where in the UK are you based?
How have you funded your business?
Warehouse Home has been entirely self-funded to date. We've established several revenue streams and are now seeking investment in order to scale.
Describe your business in one sentence.
Warehouse Home is an independent media and e-commerce brand with an international audience, providing inspiration for New York style loft living and on the distinctive industrial aesthetic.
How did you come up with your idea and turn it into an actual business?
In 2012, I bought my home in a warehouse conversion in east London.
Through the process of sourcing furniture and lighting to suit its original features, I realised the industrial look was absolutely everywhere and yet there wasn't a single premium media brand catering specifically for New York style loft living. I knew I'd spotted a gap in the market and in 2014, I launched Warehouse Home.
We started with a website and blog, as a means of testing the market and getting to know our audience. Within weeks, that was proving so popular that we began work on the debut issue of Warehouse Home magazine. The magazine has now been read in over 100 countries.
We've launched a subscriptions service and an online shop, and we've just published our debut book with Thames & Hudson.
What start-up challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Only a matter of days before the publication of Warehouse Home Issue Four, our printer went into administration. Our specific paper stock hadn't been ordered and was only available on a long lead time.
Finding another printer that could accommodate our job and ensure a consistent product at such short notice was a huge challenge, but I was also mindful that we had around 50 advertisers committed to the issue and I wasn't going to let them down by delivering the magazine later than scheduled.
In the end, we found a fantastic printer and their team was a pleasure to work with. So much so, in fact, that we've continued to work with them.
But that situation cost me several thousand pounds more than I had budgeted for printing. It's a prime example of the kind of problem that can suddenly arise when you're running your own business.
Such things have a way of happening when you're at your busiest and most financially stretched. You have to keep your nerve and sometimes you have to find a way to pay a little more for the very best results when the integrity of your brand and product depends on it.
What has been your biggest achievement with your business so far?
When you're running your own business, I think it's all too easy to forget just how much you've accomplished, particularly as time goes on and you become busier and busier.
Having the bravery to launch your own venture in the first place is an enormous achievement. But running a business is relentless and it takes real grit, determination, hard work and vision to ensure it continues to grow and thrive.
One of my biggest achievements has been to build such a talented, loyal and hard-working team. The fact that each member of the Warehouse Home team takes as much pride in the business as I do is something that makes me feel very fortunate and really excited and confident for the future.
What is your next big business goal?
Warehouse Home has grown rapidly in just over two years, without any external funding. Now we're raising investment in order to scale. In addition to seeking angel investment, we're also offering loyal readers of Warehouse Home the opportunity to join the brand's journey via a crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge getting there?
Raising investment is challenging; not least because you have to continue working hard to grow your business while pitching. But it also offers an unmatchable opportunity to gain valuable insights into your business' potential from people with experience and expertise.
How has Enterprise Nation helped your business?
Enterprise Nation has been a great introduction to other business owners, journalists and experts. I've also spoken at Enterprise Nation events, been interviewed for the Enterprise Nation podcast and joined Emma Jones on LBC's Business Hour. All excellent opportunities to promote Warehouse Home.
Which other entrepreneur inspires you and why?
On a personal note, my father. He has run a business for over 30 years and when I was growing up it never once occurred to me that owning a business might have been stressful! He's been a fantastic sounding board over the last couple of years as I've embarked on my own venture.
What are your three tips for business success based on your experiences so far?
If you have a great idea for a business, go for it! You'll always wonder what would have been if you don't.
Stick with it. Running a business is exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure.
Try to make time for your family because they miss you and their endless enthusiasm for your venture will keep you going.
Anything else you would like to share?
The other evening, Sir Terence Conran told me the debut Warehouse Home book was "absolutely wonderful". It was the proudest moment of my career and made every start-up hurdle I've leapt over to date absolutely worth it!
Sophie is a regular attendee and speakers at our events including joining our trade mission to Amsterdam in 2016. We're running five trade missions in 2017 including a trip to New York for fashion, beauty and accessories brands in July and a mission to Singapore for digital creative businesses in September. Find out more here.