“For me, being organised is essential. I want to create products to help every woman feel calm and relaxed, wherever she’s going.
For over 20 years I’ve worked for some of the most prominent brands in the world, designing beautiful products for fashion, home and beauty. As a designer I’ve travelled all over the world, meeting clients, looking for inspiration.
Fast forward 4 years and I’m proud to say that the Victoria Green name is already renowned for great quality and beautifully designed beauty bags – but the research continued, we carried on talking to women about their travel habits, developing new prototypes and testing new products until we realised we had something really special, and decided to launch our ultimate 3 in 1 beauty bag system – so you can create your own personalised storage solution for each and every trip”.
What inspired you to start a business?
I have always been entrepreneurial. My Dad is an artist and illustrator, so from an early age I was inspired by him making a living from his talent. Since leaving college I have nearly always worked on a freelance basis, designing anything from homewares to beauty products for some of the best-known retailers on the high street
I always dreamed of creating my own brand, and after a chance commission to design a range of beauty bags some years ago, I knew I’d found my perfect product. I’ve always been an organisation obsessive and it combines my love of design and practicality perfectly.
Tell us about your vision
One of the cornerstones of my business is that we base all our decisions on conversations with our customers. Before doing anything else, myself and my team set about a programme of research, so we can really understand our customers’ issues when packing, travelling and transporting their products.
Inspired by my customers, my vision is to be the go-to brand when it comes to storing and transporting beauty products. With UK women now spending £14bn on beauty, and travelling more and more frequently, I believe they deserve beautifully functional, quality products to make travelling a pleasure.
It’s these conversations that have led us to develop our brand new unique 3 in 1 Beauty Bag System, that has just launched! The brief was to create a versatile interchangeable system, so you can create your own personalised storage solution, meaning you’ll always have the right bag whatever the length of your stay.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
The greatest challenge is definitely trying to achieve a work life balance. Having a young family as well as a rapidly growing business means I have to constantly juggle my priorities, but I learned very early on to set strict boundaries and stick to them. This means I am home every evening to eat with the children and put them to bed.
Like any parent, working or otherwise, I’m often absolutely exhausted, but of course, after the blood, sweat and tears, there is nothing quite as rewarding as seeing your collection on the shelves of a major retailer. The realisation that the idea you floated in your mind is now a reality is a tremendous feeling!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?
I launched the business from my spare room with my own savings, often carving out the time to design in the evenings in my ‘spare time’ after putting my son to bed.
My partner had just returned from a tour of Afghanistan and had decided to leave the army to spend more time with our then five-year-old son which was welcome in terms of extra support, but the financial pressure was daunting.
Taking time out of an established design career with a steady income quickly became an even bigger challenge when, after a long struggle with fertility issues, I found myself pregnant with a much longed-for second baby at the same time as Debenhams snapped up my first collection.
So, at the same time as getting to grips with the logistics of dealing with one of the largest multiples in the UK and raising finance for the next order, I was heavily pregnant and the sole income for the family. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure how I got through it!
The challenges continue on a daily basis and it has been an enormous learning curve with many tears of exhaustion over my laptop, but I am proud to see the business, my team and my children all grow so rapidly!
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?
My top piece of advice would be to set out a vision of where you would like to be in five years’ time and visualise it. Make it as vivid as you can: how will you feel when you reach your goal? Who will be with you, what will it look like? Make sure to include not only your business goals but put these in the context of your whole lifestyle and family commitments, as one will feed the other.
Then break this down to smaller time frames and look at the steps you need to take to achieve each marker. By implementing this structure, goals are achievable, and success can be easily measured and swiftly celebrated (our team does this frequently with chocolate and Prosecco!).
Having a clear vision gives you the motivation to carry on when you feel like giving up, and helps you see the bigger picture, when you encounter those inevitable bumps in the road.
However, I would also add my most valuable lessons have been the result of failures. As a team we are always looking to learn from every experience, sometimes with a simple procedure improvement. At other times our failures have opened up wonderful collaborations, where for example we teamed with a cancer poverty charity to distribute gifts last Christmas.
What advice would you give someone looking to leave the corporate world and launch their own startup?
Do your research. Make sure you are offering something unique and desirable. Talk to potential customers or service users, and specially seek out the negative comments because they will be the most valuable to you. Be ready to pivot your business model in response to your research so you have the very best solution when you take it to market.
In the early stages I would advise to act lean and look at ways to mitigate your risk. Can you negotiate a part-time contract when you start out so you’re not leaving the corporate world altogether? If not, are there other income streams you can access while you’re building your business?
Even now, I always sell my product from samples and have not yet put a range into production without a sizeable retail order first. Other businesses buy a small quantity of product first to test the market, then reorder accordingly. Once you have traction, by all means go for it!
What does the future hold for you?
In the short-term, we have just launched our brand new 3 in 1 beauty bag system on our website and at Marks & Spencer, and later this year we’re also launching at Myer in Australia.
Long-term, we’re looking at some exciting collaborations with influencers and designers to make the range even better, and there is so much potential for new product areas and growth into new markets. I’m really excited about what the future holds so watch this space!
Discover more at www.victoriagreen.co.uk