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Timing is everything. For Andrea Flamini it really was. After building a successful career as head of marketing she noticed her priorities have shifted when she came back from maternity leave. At the same time, her mother Rita was retiring from her small jewellery company and the opportunity to become an entrepreneur and have a flexible schedule couldn’t be more appealing. So she became managing partner at Loel & Co. a jewellery brand that offers stylish and simple handmade pieces with a mix of the best of up-and-coming European designers. In this interview she talks about the process of taking over the family business, how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and the importance of surrounding yourself with people that believe in you.
Project M: What motivated you to launch the brand?
Andrea Flamini: When my eldest son was born back in 2013 I had been working as the Head of Marketing for Heart and Classic FM. I loved my job – it was fast paced, fun, mad and chaotic that involved a great team working for a business that had huge ambitions for growth. But after my year long spell of maternity leave I noticed that a few of my priorities had shifted and that maybe my old job wasn’t such a good fit for me anymore.
Combine this with the fact that my mother was going to retire from her small jewellery business and it felt like a new exciting opportunity was presenting itself to me. I thought her business still had huge potential. It was small but that meant it was nimble too and using the skills I had developed in my old job I believed that it could grow into something that could support me and my new family whilst giving me the working flexibility I was craving. I decided to go with my instincts and take the plunge head first into managing my own business.
Project M: What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
Andrea Flamini: Initially it was the complexity of launching a new business on your own. It was humbling to realise the extent of what I needed to learn, and fast! When it came to picking out product, that was the fun bit. It was like going on a bit of a shopping spree for beautiful jewellery. The legal, fiscal and practical requirements needed to prop up the business was a lot less fun. Learning the complexities of these on my own and from scratch was a huge challenge.
After nailing the nitty gritty I had to get used to being my own boss, making my own decisions, and being wholly responsible for the overall success of the business. No pressure there then, especially with a toddler clinging to your leg all day. I am very fortunate to have a husband who works in the marketing business and he has been a huge help. I found that having someone to bounce ideas off was really helpful.
It took some time but soon I had the confidence to sell myself as well as MY business. 4 years into my little startup the challenges I face have shifted. It’s now more about making the most of the opportunities that I am given, finding enough time to devote to the business to grow it to the level I would like and not least, the looming reality of Brexit! Our potential departure from the EU is full of unknowns for a business like mine and has led to the odd sleepless night.
Project M: What advice would you share with those thinking about creating a business?
Andrea Flamini: I was at a pivotal point in my life so the decision for me was perhaps easier than it might be for others. I still feel it was the best decision I have ever made. Risks are always there but stepping out of your comfort zone can be really rewarding. This week we were fortunate enough to be featured in Grazia’s Big Fashion Issue and I cannot tell you the buzz I felt at having made that happen by myself, with no PR team, marketing budget or huge corporation behind me.
The best advice I can give is to try and be as organised as you possibly can. Be disciplined with your time and your money. Be prepared to put as much profit as you can back into the business, even if that means sacrificing your salary or income for a few years. Surround yourself with people that support you, believe in yourself and what you’re setting out to achieve.
I have some wonderful friends who have had my back from the start. They’ve liked every single Instagram post, bought my jewellery and told everyone they know about the brand – even the odd stranger too. Their support definitely got me through all of those ‘maybe I should go back to a proper job’ moments. It might just be you working on your business but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. It’s an adventure that I would recommend to anyone. It will always be emotionally rewarding and with a bit of luck financially rewarding too.
Check the products at https://loel.co.uk/