Why Business Community is so important…
Regular blog readers will often find me waxing lyrical about Hero in Stockbridge, Hampshire.
An online shopping destination, an insanely beautiful bricks and mortar boutique AND a creative hub too; Hero was set up by my good friend and former blogger, Laura Turner.
I got to know Laura via Twitter when she began blogging and we became firm friends in an instant. Soon we were trekking off to London for blogging events, laughing at each other’s dorkish (our word!) attempts at personal style posing and generally sharing our love of anything remotely Instagram worthy.
…its like walking into your favourite lifestyle blog
Laura went on to set up Hero which I can only describe as like walking right into your very favourite lifestyle blog. If you’re ever in Stockbridge, I highly recommend you drop in – but I doubt you’ll leave empty handed!
Laura is one of the most inspiring and amazing women I know who makes juggling multiple projects and a family look entirely effortless to the onlooker.
Of course, we’ve had many wine and coffee fuelled conversations about how the swan gliding across the surface is something of a mirage and so I’m under no illusions as to the incredible amount of work she puts in on a daily basis.
The inaugural conference is taking place on Saturday 1 April where I’ll be speaking on a panel about how smaller brands can work with digital influencers. I cannot wait!
At the time of writing, there’s a handful of tickets for this incredible business community event left. So if you fancy coming along for a day of inspiration, an incredible roster of speakers and some all round entrepreneur brilliance, take a look here.
Meanwhile, I recently caught up with Laura to dig a little deeper into how she achieves her daily and longer term goals, her key business advice and find out a little more about Big Small Business…
Women Who Inspire Me – hero founder & Big Small Business Co-Founder, Laura Turner
For those who haven’t yet been converted to the “Hero Way”, sum up your hero journey so far.
Like you, my background was financial services. I worked in the marketing department after graduating with a marketing degree, but then left for a life of domestic bliss to be a full time wife and mother.
“I had a curiosity to see how far I could go in business…”
I soon realised that bliss it was not. Domesticity was not for me. After writing a fashion and lifestyle blog for around a year, I opened Hero in 2014 in a bid to find my identity once again. I had a curiosity to see how far I could go in business and in fact if I could handle it at all. I knew I wanted challenges and to discover who I really was.
Within six months we had outgrown the original space and moved to the centre of the high street into a shop three times the size. The move was huge. It entailed what was an enormous financial risk (more space = more rent), the inevitably of serving more people meant more employees. It was overwhelming to say the least.
So, these days, tell us what does a typical day in the life of Laura look like?
What I love best about my life is the fact that no day is ever the same. At least after 9 am anyway! Before 9, it’s all about getting three children up, dressed, fed and out the door.
Then the day is dedicated to Hero. At the moment we’re coming to the end of buying season so it’s been really busy with appointments. I also try and factor in some admin and some creative time to work on the business. I love every single element of it though from financial forecasting meetings with my accountant to photoshoots and working the shop floor, it’s all exhilarating.
From 3pm it’s back to mummy time and school pick up, cooking, homework and getting them off to bed before catching up on anything I didn’t get done during the day.
Tell us about Big Small Business and what it was that inspired you to set it up with Monica?
Creating Hero and a brand has been so much more than simply opening a shop and this was a deliberate endeavour right from the start – I wanted Hero to be more than just a shop.
So we started offering creative workshops as a way of opening Hero up to those who wanted to pursue their own business dreams and needed a helping hand.
“It was a chance to connect & talk freely about your goals & aspirations…”
What we discovered was that the workshops offered so much more than educational content. It was a chance to connect and talk freely about your goals and aspirations with people who felt the same. It was liberating.
I had been working with Monica on our own brand and so we decided to create an even bigger platform for creative entrepreneurs and Big Small Business was born.
Big Small Business is first and foremost a community. A place where like minded creatives, dream chasers and business owners come together to thrive. To share ideas, obstacles and real life experiences. This year, on April 1st we are hosting our very first one day conference where everyone can get together and listen and learn from world class business owners who have walked the path before them and share their experiences along the way.
How do you stay calm when it feels like the To Do list(s) is totally out of control?
This year I have started journalling and it has helped enormously. Everyday I brain dump. I’m sure if you read it, it would make no sense at all but to me it’s a chance to get everything out and start to prioritise the important things.
If I’m overwhelmed with tasks and life, I find it really important to start focussing on what I have done. I mean everything! From celebrating emptying the dishwasher to reading with my six year old to making that phone call I’ve been putting off for weeks. I write it down and usually I suddenly realise I did ok today!
What would you say has been your biggest challenge so far with running your own business?
I think this question needs perspective. Three years ago my challenges were very different to those I have now. Back then the challenges were getting suppliers to believe in you and sell yourself to them as a brand they should be working with. It was working out what a profit and loss statement was and negotiating terms on the shop premises.
These days we work with an ever growing list of around thirty brands, workshop experts, caterers and photographers. We have a shop manager and shop floor staff and a marketing and events manager. Now my challengers are keeping up with it all!
What would be your key piece of advice to anyone thinking about setting up their own business?
Get solid foundations in place right from the start. Without this, anything else that you do will not have the strength to stand up. I am obsessed with doing the right thing at the right time and making sure we do it properly. The creative fun stuff like marketing campaigns and social media to the gold sticker on our packaging and signature scent of the shop is all based on science and doing everything for the right reason.
What are the core values of hero that you aim to communicate to all your customers both in store and across your social media channels?
Hero is all about being your best and fulfilling your potential. Whether through your personal style or your business ambitions, we want to be the helping hand to get you there.
I love your style Laura – it always seems so effortless! Can you share three of your style secrets with Online Stylist readers?
Haha – thank you! I’d say my style is very conscious. What I wear has always been really important to me. It’s part of my identity and makes me feel good. Simple as that.
1. Wear what suits you. If you like a trend but it just doesn’t work for you, find a way of working it into your wardrobe in a way that suits you.
2. Spend as much as you can afford – quality is everything.
3. If in doubt, wear cashmere.
A girl after my own heart! So what’s next for hero?
I really have no idea – every year we have evolved so we shall see! What I do know is that we are working on getting better at what we do. Getting to know our customers better and better serving them. We will also be introducing some new creative events later in the year and one day I’d love to have our own event space so who knows?!
And for some fun stuff! Three current favourite Instagram accounts?
This changes on a weekly basis but at the moment I always check in on
If we bought just one thing (and I know that’s hard!) from Hero right now, what would you recommend?
My very favourite thing in Hero right now is the Iris cashmere jumper from Needle. Utterly gorgeous.
☕️ How do you take your coffee? ☕️
Short, black and strong to a frothy milky cappuccino and everything in-between. A creature of habit I am not!