Sharing the stories of business women is one of my favourite things about blogging. I know their tales will inspire other women to follow their dreams and create their own incomes. Today I am sharing my interview with Vanessa from Rudi Designs who turned her hobby into what she describes as a cottage industry. I would encourage you to check out her affordable range of handmade hair accessories, shoe bows and more. I know so many women are creative and like to craft. This story will show how you can take that interest and design products for clients in the marketplace. Whilst we are talking about hair I also wanted to point you in the direction of a fashionable and modern human hair wig provider that will show wigs really don’t have to be boring. Now let’s get back to Vanessa’s story.
Tell us a little about your childhood and teenager years
Apparently, as a child I was always making things – sewing clothes for my dolls and teddies and making wooden things, mainly trollies and carts to lug around said dolls and teddies! At school I loved the sewing and woodwork classes and I took art as one of my ‘A’ levels but once I left school I didn’t keep up anything creative or artistic.
What was your first job? What did you learn from this?
I left school at eighteen and decided that instead of going to university I wanted independence as quickly as possible so went straight to secretarial college which turned out to be the right decision. I found myself getting work easily in London as a board level PA. Intermingling permanent positions with temp work gave me a huge variety of experience of different businesses and people and enabled me to fulfil my travel goals. I really enjoyed it and learnt about how businesses run from top to bottom and how to maximise efficiency and get things done.
What led you to setting up your business?
After marrying and about to have our first child I stopped working. We then moved out of London with second baby on the way and a third followed. We decided it was not practical for me to return to jobs I had been used to and also that while the children were little I should be a stay at home mum which luckily we could manage. Being at home with the children I was always tinkering with making things and started making personalised greetings cards for friends. This evolved into accessories when I thought that the bits and bobs I was using were so pretty they should be worn. I started with my rose hair clips years ago and they are still a best seller. My ‘business’ as it is now (although I would still describe it as a thriving cottage industry with business potential!) has grown gradually around the demands of family life.
What are your products?
My products are mainly handmade hair accessories though I also design brooches, chokers and shoe clips. Everything is designed and handmade by me using, amongst other things, luxurious velvet, grosgrain and Swarovski gems.
What makes your business special?
I design and hand-make everything I sell. I use components of the highest quality and test everything for comfort and sturdiness so I can sell them with absolute confidence.
What tip would you give to someone who wants to set up a business but lacks self-belief?
Choose to do something that you wholeheartedly enjoy so that when the inevitable set-backs occur you will have the inspiration and energy to keep going. Start small and cautiously – go at your own pace – that way your confidence grows with the development of your business.
How do you ensure you look after yourself properly? What do you do for self-care?
Looking after oneself properly with (now) three young adults around is a bit of a misnomer! However, we all need to eat so I make sure I make healthy homemade meals for us all….I exercise regularly (on top of walking the dog) and make sure I get enough sleep.
Who supported you as you set up your business?
As my ‘business’ is just me based at home I have not had any external support. My husband has given me great support, encouragement and tech advice (still does!) and support from my friends has been invaluable and is ongoing.
What things would you like to see change about the position of women in society?
I think the position of women in general in society is improving on every level all the time but I would like to see the speed of that change improve.
If you could recommend ONE book to women what would it be and why?
I would recommend is ‘Courtesans’ by Katie Hickman It documents the rise from notoriety to position, power and financial independence by a small group of 18th and 19th century women. I chose this because it I think it is a fascinating social insight to the time but also shows that the past is really no different from today when it comes to certain issues.
If you could recommend ONE website to women what would it be and why?
A website, with so many to choose from, I find this a difficult question to answer but if you want only one, for me personally it would be Net-a-Porter. Not philanthropic or ‘woke’ but because I love to browse it as if I was luxury window shopping and gaze at the gorgeous, if unaffordable fashion, for inspo and dreams – who doesn’t like a bit of that?
Do you make handmade hair accessories? Whatever you make, I would love to share your story with my readers. You can get in touch via the contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org