Interior architects Claire Price and Elaine Regan (above) launched HouseEdit.ie, a digital interiors platform, in September 2016. Here, Claire Price tells their story so far.
How would I describe what we do? HouseEdit.ie is an online interiors, lifestyle & sourcing guide, that offers affordable, shoppable content. No more searching for hours on end to find the perfect side table, lamp or rug. House Edit has all your favourite high street brands on just one site. Imagine a boutique Amazon for interiors with expert advice and inspiration.
Staying afloat during the transition from the design studio to online interiors and lifestyle destination has been our greatest achievement to date.
Like all new businesses, we’ve had weak moments. Pre-launch we were working 18 hour days, and we had to dig deep. Cash flow was always a challenge as we began to take on less studio work. But somehow we navigated our way through.
“I used to laugh at his TV commercials years ago; now I listen to the guy on a daily basis.”
Taking time out to step back from the business helps when you get a setback. Getting out and reluctantly exercising also really helps to focus. Personally, my secret weapon has to be Tony Robbins, a life and business strategist. I used to laugh at his TV commercials years ago; now I listen to the guy on a daily basis.
How do I feel about risk? It’s an inevitable part of business but calculate it and protect your downside. Providing you don’t leave yourself destitute, losing your initial investment in a business isn’t the end of the world. Owing the bank a ‘ginormous’ loan, however, may be. So try to be strategic.
“It’s very easy to get caught up with the small stuff and lose sight of the primary objective: delivering an excellent service and growing your business.”
If I were to start again, what would I do differently? Being a creative by trade, I’m still relatively new to the world of business but what I would say is there is no right formula. It’s about whatever works for you and your business. Get as much advice from experienced business people, ask for brutal honesty and do the maths. Do your research, know your market and take massive action. You’re never going to get things right every time, but it’s a learning process. Based on that I’m not sure I would do anything differently. Perhaps strategise and prioritise a little better. It’s very easy to get caught up with the small stuff and lose sight of the primary objective: delivering an excellent service and growing your business.
“More flexibility when it comes to financing would make building a business easier.”
Initially, we invested some of our money. I think any external sources of funding will want to see that, to demonstrate that you are serious about your business. We also availed of funding for SMEs through our LEO, Enterprise Ireland and our bank. Cash flow is the oxygen of any business and in the early days of setting up you need as much support as you can get. Regarding making the process easier, there can be some barriers to obtaining funding in some areas, such as having a minimum of one year’s trading under your belt before you are eligible. For SMEs, this isn’t always going to be possible. More flexibility could make the process easier.
“ I think she showed extraordinary resourcefulness and determination, essentially building a thirty-nine million pound business from nothing.”
Who do I admire in business? Michelle Mone, formerly of Ultimo. The odds weren’t exactly stacked in her favour coming from a tough upbringing, but I think she showed extraordinary resourcefulness and determination, essentially building a thirty-nine million pound business from nothing. JK Rowling comes a very close second not only because of her rags to riches story, but I admire how she has maintained creative control over nearly everything she does. Her active role in philanthropic work is also hugely inspirational, and I think she’s a great role model.
“Your living environment has such an enormous impact on how you feel on a daily basis.”
What motivates me? Life! As cliche as it sounds it is so incredibly short and if I am lucky enough to grow grey and old, I want to make sure I gave it my best shot. I think ultimately though the fundamental motivation is to in some small way make people’s lives a little better. Your living environment has such an enormous impact on how you feel on a daily basis. So if HouseEdit.ie can inspire and enable people to create a living environment that they love, without breaking the bank, then we have done our job.
“We feel quite privileged to be running a business from one of the most geographically stunning places on earth.”
My ambition? For the business, I am lucky in that I have an incredible business partner who is as motivated as me in developing and growing the business to be the ‘go to’ destination for interiors and lifestyle. It’s our ambition to be the brand synonymous with interiors, expert advice and sourcing in Ireland. I would like to see us employing more talent within our local area (the West). We feel quite privileged to be running a business from one of the most geographically stunning places on earth, so if we could make that possible for more young creatives, we would be happy. Above all, though it would be to ensure I inspire my daughter to follow her dreams and help as many people along the way as I can.
“A large percentage of funding support is retrospective, which can be crippling when you’re trying to get a business off the ground.”
Is there was one thing I could change about business culture in Ireland, what would it be? Personally, I have found the majority of people and organisations along the way very supportive. But more support around cash flow in the first year or two would help. A large percentage of funding support is retrospective, which can be crippling when you’re trying to get a business off the ground.
Article by Sandra O’Connell. Images from HouseEdit.ie and Shutterstock.