Program: New York
Intake: January 2000
Current Role: Founder and Creator, Essence of Hartland
Describe your business and your role within it
Established in 2019, Essence of Hartland is a local North Devon business based in Hartland Village, specializing in home fragrances made with essential oils. Inspired by the ancient dramatic coastline and clear marine waters surrounding the Hartland Peninsula, it’s fauna and flora was the key to the first creations called ‘Autumn Walk’ and ‘Bloom’ which evoke the scent of the ever changing and unique environment of Hartland. As the founder and creator, my role is all encompassing from marketing, branding, sales, design, research and development, logisitics, operations, and finance.
How did you get into this line of business?
My career background is quite eclectic; after my Mountbatten experience in New York I found myself teaching in Taiwan, then after moving to London I started working for a large retailer within a managerial position which quickly taught me a lot about the customer experience, managing a team, and the importance of team work. After experiencing one or two redundancies in my career I upskilled as a Project Manager working for a management consultancy. I quickly learnt how to manage large multiple projects, and after introducing a new process, I moved on to publishing and then into marketing technology. Here I was responsible for delivering large multinational projects for clients such as Sony, Bank of America, Channel 4, Nissan, Estee Lauder and Shell. It was during the last few years where I moved into a directorship role, that I decided I could utilize all the skills I had learnt with client management, team management, project management and technology for a business of my own. I wanted to be creative and make something myself that I felt passionate enough to brand, market and sell.
How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
It was a big decision to leave behind a well paid job and successful career but I felt that I would regret not giving it a try. So I sold my house, got a dog (nothing to do with the business, but always wanted one) and my partner and I moved to Devon, which enabled me to free up some capital to invest into my business. For many years I had always wanted to create something using natural ingredients and initially I thought I was going to start a new toiletry range but after months of research and testing out ideas I found myself creating fragrances for the home and noticed that there was a gap in the market for hand made natural products that were not harmful to the environment. Being based in the village of Hartland in North Devon was key to my inspiration for branding, and marketing. It was clear from the start that I should name the company after the unique and scientifically important Hartland Peninsula that has become home. I launched my first home fragrance in the form of a room diffuser made with pure essential oils in August 2019, I was overwhelmed by the support of the local community and even secured three stockists within the first month. Fuelled by the enthusiasm and encouragement from the community, I developed my second product which enabled me to gain the confidence to expand on my wholesale offerings and managed to increase my stockists to five by September. In addition, I signed up to some local markets and fairs which has helped me get the brand out there. I also invested time into setting up my social pages and website, drawing on my experience working in social media.
What else is in the pipeline?
Since September 2019, I have launched a further three new products and secured a bespoke order from the Christie Estate in North Devon who own a stately home, a number of properties and beaches along the North Devon coast. I am also in the midst of pitching a bespoke offering to a large hotel chain in London, Glasgow and Manchester which, if successful, will hopefully be a springboard into other similar chains and industries. My hope is that in 2020 I am able to expand my product offering to large businesses. I will also be setting up a more permanent shop in Bideford, North Devon where I will be able to run part of my business, as well as having the opportunity to get direct feedback from customers. I will also be doing my first large trade shows at the Royal Cornwall Show and North Devon Agricultural Show, as well as expanding my product offering within the wedding sector.
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
Taking a leap of faith and setting up my own business is definitely the proudest moment of my working life so far. That said; without the training, learning and experiences of my past jobs I wouldn’t have the knowledge or confidence to try something by myself.
What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
Not following my dream of running my own business sooner – I have a lot of self-doubt and it is the biggest hurdle to get through. Even though I have confidence in my abilities within a large company, I struggled with believing in my abilities to stand on my own two feet and take the risk. I believe if I had followed my gut feelings sooner, I would be a lot further on in terms of product development and sales. A big learning experience is the realization of how many hats you have to wear when you start your own business; I think I underestimated the amount of time needed for each area, such as finance, branding, social media, photography, copywriting, networking, sales, the list is endless. I think there will be a lot more learning experiences to come.
Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
I am slowly adjusting to the realisation that you have to define what success means to you and not constantly compare yourself with everyone else. It is so easy to sit at home on your laptop scrolling through endless amounts of content feeling guilty you are not working on something more productive, feeling inadequate compared to your competitors and feeling overwhelmed with how much you think you need to do to be just as successful. I am currently working on a way of working that will help me feel like I have achieved something each day; if you try and do everything, you never get anything done and then you constantly feel frustrated. Focus on what is important, and then everything else will follow on naturally. Yes there will always be emails (just like in any job), and yes there will be a million ideas in your head, but the key thing is to remain focused on the task you have decided to complete that day, before getting distracted with the millions of other things that need doing to make your business successful.
Buy Essence of Hartland with a Mountbatten discount
To celebrate my first year of trading and to say thank you to all at Mountbatten for their support I am pleased to offer a 20% discount on all purchases in the run up to Christmas. Simply enter code: MOUNTBATTEN at checkout.