Doers and Dreamers...Amy Hunt
It's the third instalment in our Doers & Dreamers series. This week we meet my lovely neighbour from Dot to Dot, Amy Hunt.
Hi Amy tell us a bit about yourself? (And your business)
Hello! I’m the owner of Willa and Bobbin, which is a handmade design-led soft furnishing boutique for little people, using Liberty of London fabric and vintage found fabrics (I’m a Liberty print addict and a fabric hoarder!)
When I’m not working I’m a mummy of two little pickle monsters: Willa 4 going on 16 and Alfie who has just turned 2 and is a ball of energy – he’s exhausting but is at that very sweet stage of talking A LOT. When no one is in the house I pretend I’m a ballerina that I always wanted to be, if I had my time again I would be a dancer but I got injured. I use to be a personal trainer and an occupational therapist. I like a gin but I like a wine more!
What was the driving force to set up Willa and Bobbin?
My children: Willa is the reason I started: I only learnt to sew in 2011 when I was pregnant with her and then last year one rainy March afternoon she asked me to make her a cushion, and it was that very afternoon Willa and Bobbin was born. My children inspire me, my son is very bird-obsessed and my daughter is my creative director – she tells it straight!
Since moving to the country I have a source of inspiration: there are two plump wood pigeons who seem to have taken up residence in our garden and they really inspire my birds: my "The Gentleman" is actually based on one of them – they are really amusing to watch!
What’s your workspace like?
I’m currently in a makeshift studio as we are waiting to renovate our property, but once its done I have got the top floor to myself! Super excited about this! But currently my sewing desk faces the window; it’s really nice to watch the world go by.
Tell us about a typical day?
I work two full days a week (and any other hours in between) but on those full days I write a list the night before so I know what I need to do otherwise I’m really talented at self procrastinating! I drop the monsters off to nursery at 8, either go for a run or do a yoga class, come home make my orders, admin and throw in a post run. Then pick the little ones up at 6. Then repeat the next day.
How did you launch?
In December just gone I was offered a place with The Brit Pack at Bubble London. I had 7 weeks to get myself up to at a professional level. So I had to come up with a collection (I sort of throw all the things I had made for my children and friends together), had my first ever professional photo shoot, set up my website. I launched way before I was ready, but are we ever really ready? It’s only the last 3 months that I have been able to have the collection I really wanted to make.
What’s your favourite online resource (app/tool) that is indispensable for work?
I love using Whitagram App – it gets the best out of your photos!
How do you manage family and work life balance?
When you work for yourself you grab any moment possible but recently my daughter has started to ask me to stop sewing or to not look at my phone, which has really pulled on my heartstrings. So now I try really hard to leave work alone for a few days, as it is all-consuming especially when you are a one-man band business. I’m trying to ensure I spend quality time with the little ones and actually having that space from your business helps as you get to clear your head and be refreshed when you get back in the studio/office etc.
What have you found most surprising since setting up your business?
The support given by other businesses in similar positions, such as Little Hotdog Watson (wink wink)
On the tough days how do you self motivate?
Have a cry! No seriously - I’ve learnt a bit of exercise goes a long way, a 30-minute run means I get more done in the day than if I didn’t go. At one point I felt like I was too business to workout but you aren’t it is so very important. Also music – as I mentioned above, if I had my time again and didn’t get injured I would be a professional dancer and would have loved to have been in the West End, so I always listen to musicals to get me going (and maybe throw in the odd dance move when I’m sure nobody is looking… a five, six, seven, eight!)
What’s been your business highlight so far?
Getting my first award at Bubble London: after 2 crazy weeks from launch, My Baba awarded me my first award!
What have you got planned next?
I have a huge list of bird mobiles to make so I need to get making on those.
And finally…. what’s your top tip for anyone thinking of starting their own business?
Go for it – I did, and without a business plan (I’m not advising that by the way – a business plan is rather important) but my point is if you don’t try you will only wonder what might have happened. If it doesn’t work, you tried and that’s further than some people will get. Also, listen to your gut - 99% of time you are right. It a bit like the first time you are a mother and you get all this advice but at the end of day you know your baby better then anyone!
To find out more about Amy and her gorgeous creations please visit http://www.willaandbobbin.com
Every Monday we will bring you a new Doers & Dreamers interview. Let us know who else you would like to know more about.
Interview with Keira founder of Mama Designs and Mama Designs Business Club