I hope you’ve all had a good week. I thought it would be fun to end the working week (and kick off a fresh new month) with a Behind the Biz interview.
Behind the Biz is my weekly interview series where I chat to the founders of new and exciting businesses. This week we’re teleporting to Southwold, a little town on the Suffolk Coast.
In today’s interview I’m chatting with David, the founder of Lift.
Please tell us about your business.
Lift is a home and lifestyle shop in Southwold on the Suffolk Coast.
All our own-brand stock is made by my mum and myself so all our cushions, bags, pouches and aprons are all Suffolk designed and made. We also stock some amazing brands from all over the world such as Areware, Good Thing, Block Design, Companies De Provence, Korridor and lots more.
Where did the inspiration for Lift come from?
From all over really. Mainly from my love of great functional design and a childhood obsession with stationery and organization! Danish and Japanese design are huge inspirations for me. I also love colour, so lift is full of it!
I always wanted Lift to be about great design which is accessible for everyone and wanted the prices to reflect this. I wanted the shop to suit any budget.
My aim is also to be a gender neutral and vegan brand so you won’t find any girl or boy birthday cards or feather cushion pads. Everything is for everyone.
Where did you come up with the name?
I wanted something positive and affirming, Lift just seemed perfect, I wanted Lift to to make people feel good and ultimately to Lift people up. It’s also very pun friendly! We have a Lift it forward scheme where every 200th customer gets £5 to use to do something good for their community, I’m also really looking forward to Liftmas (sorry).
What did you do before starting Lift?
I’ve been working in retail for many years in Manchester and London, working for Muji, Paperchase, Selfridges, the National Gallery and most recently I managed the shops at London Zoo. I’m lucky that I’ve worked for some incredible brands, but I really wanted to do it for myself. I finally made the move to Suffolk last year to peruse my Lift dream!
Did you always plan to set up your own business?
It’s been a lifetime dream to have my own shop and be selling the things I love. I’m also really passionate about Southwold so it’s really my dream job in my dream location! I’ve always loved the buzz of a good shop and that excitement about discovering new things. I wanted to make that myself. Mary Portas is my hero so my mantra is ‘what would Mary do?‘ I have her picture up in the shop to make sure I’m kept on my toes.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
The boring bits behind the scenes like all the paperwork and numbers. I’m terrible at maths so It’s been a steep learning curve and as I’ve always worked for other people, this is the first time where it’s ALL my responsibility which has been a bit daunting.
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
Meeting people for sure. I love the excitement of each day being totally different and seeing people react to the shop is amazing. I always wanted people to find the unexpected so I’m always super happy when they do! I also really love designing and making new products, it’s great seeing someone enjoy something you’ve made.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
I think it’s really important tool for any modern business to communicate. I love sharing new products and ideas on Instagram and Facebook.
Insta is my favourite as it’s so fast, It’s also a great source of inspiration. I also love a good hashtag #liftmeup is my favourite!
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Try and try again! I did a pop-up shop and a few markets first to test Lift and make sure people liked it and I had something people wanted. It’s tough (and expensive) to open a shop so it’s important to test your idea first.
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
I’m excited for Christmas and looking forward to launching the Lift webshop in November 😉
I visited Lift last month and as soon as I stepped into the lovely little shop I knew I wanted to find out more. I’m delighted that David was keen to get involved with Behind the Biz and it’s been a real pleasure finding out about his business journey. I’m looking forward to seeing Lift grow through the year ahead and I can’t wait ’til November when they’ll be online too. I love that the shop is gender neutral and vegan – it’s so inspiring to come across a business with such a clear ethics.
If you find yourself in Southwold (my all-time favourite place) make sure you pop in and say hello to David and explore the shop.
If you fancy getting involved with Behind The Biz please leave a comment below, send me an email or drop me a message over on Twitter.