INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN - Heather Slade of Velvet Living
Second up in our Inspirational Women feature is the fabulous Heather Slade of Velvet Living. We met Heather when she approached us to be part of her stunning luxury gift box company. With hectic schedules, Heather offers her customers the opportunity to create beautiful, personalised gifts, from luxury brands including Cowshed and Elemis, in just a few little clicks, all presented in her stunning packaging.
Describe what Velvet Living is about.
Velvet Living is a website where we create luxury celebratory gift boxes filled with beautiful brands. Each box is bespoke and can be personalised with gifts which include lifestyle, beauty and baby products. Flowers and gift vouchers are nice but we like to make things a bit more special at Velvet Living London
How did you start out in your early career? Have you always been in the field you are now in?
I came to London 12 years ago after graduating in Media and communication, I started in the PR sector and then moved into Marketingworking for Sony and then for the most part for Tesco sitting in their commercial team and looking after the marketing for the health and beauty category
What is your dream job?
When I was little I went through all kind of dream jobs. I think age 8 I wanted to be an astronaut! Then I wanted to be an actress, begging my mum to let me go to stage school and then wanted to be an interior designer / house designer. (I still actually think this would be amazing!)
How did you get started? Where did the seed of inspiration come from?
I have always been massively into little luxuries and accessories to add finishing touches to something, whether it’s your home or to yourself. I started off blogging way back in 2011 about beautiful home pieces etc. At the same time I found I was increasingly buying the accessories I loved for my friends and family for different occasions. New Baby, New House, Married, Engaged the list goes on, and I always enjoy the element of gifting. I wanted to open my own site that would pair gifting and life’s little luxuries together. I was so incredibly lucky because I pitched the idea to all the brands and they all loved the concept, so I knew I could make it work. Now I have a really balanced mix of new upcoming brands with also timeless iconic brands which works really well. I love creating / designing the look and feel of my website and packaging. I know everything is online and digital but the plan in a few years would be to have a showroom/ shop in London. I think there is still a place for bricks and mortar to get up close to brands and retailers.
How long have you been going and how have the first few years been?
We are now entering our third year, and it’s been a definite learning curve. The first two years I was still working in my corporate day job and packing boxes at night. I kept plugging away and then last year we started partnering with a well-known estate agency that we provide home boxes to their clients. It then became impossible to split my time and I knew that I needed to go full time on the business from then onwards.
You definitely have good days and bad days, we have had up’s (new sales / new partners and brand collaborations) and downs (stock not arriving, cash flow etc.) My favourite quote is the harder you work the more luck you have. Absolutely true! My second favourite “Just keep swimming” My husband says this to me and it’s also absolutely true. If you keep swimming you will get there.
What motivates you to continue to keep what you do fresh and innovative and how do you grow the business?
I think social media is a brilliant place for small businesses to thrive. It’s great to see fresh new brands and ideas. There is a definite community of people who want to see other’s businesses do well and I think that’s such a positive way to be. There are always cross overs but I believe there is enough place for everyone in the world to do their thing in a slightly different way. Keeping things new and not being scared to ask for something will always get your brand noticed. I am a big fan of collaborating and utilising existing relationships so that both brands benefit is a great way to reach new customers.
Where do your creative ideas / inspirations come from?
I think when you are passionate about what you do, you never stop thinking of where you want your business to go. If you genuinely enjoy it, then you will always thrive with new ideas.
Who/ what is inspiring you in your field right now and why and who is your guru/ aspirational figure?
I think Anna Whitehouse (@motherpukka) is doing incredible things with the flex appeal (there is a genuine passion in her writing ) that make you want to get behind her and succeed. It’s a fabulous initiative and one I hope she makes iconic to her as she really is flying the flag to say that 9-5 is not an appropriate option anymore in a lot of cases. People work and like to work so why make it harder with an out of date rule. She is a great example of building a brand and also standing for something that can do good.