Louise Downing is 30 and lives in Clapham with her boyfriend. She is the founder of homeware and furniture e-commerce site and social enterprise, Spotdeco. In July she launched ‘Charity Begins at Home,’ which donates 50% of revenue to community projects in each customer’s local area, at no extra cost.
The initiative empowers consumers to give back to their local area while shopping for their home, creating happy homes from the inside out and outside in.
What inspired the Charity Begins at Home scheme?
A vision of what the world would be like if everyone did more to make their local area a vibrant, happy and safe place to be. Your home isn’t just your own four walls but everything else around it. Friendly, safe communities and access to green urban spaces is paramount to wellbeing.
How has it been received? What have been the achievements so far?
The response has been really positive and encouraging, so I’ve decided to replicate the model countrywide sooner rather than later. The aim is to have a wide spread across the UK within the next 6 months.
What is your background? How did you go about setting up your own business?
Science and English are my two passions, so after studying Biology I became an environmental journalist for Bloomberg. While I absolutely love journalism, I didn’t want to work for someone else forever, so I decided to start a website with the idea that I could grow it as a hobby while still working full-time. It has been a colossal learning curve, so after a year I decided to quit, do freelance journalism and dedicate more time to growing Spotdeco.
Who has been your inspiration?
All the females in my family! I come from a family of strong, independent women. My Mum bought my two sisters up as a single parent, whilst working day and night as a nurse and she never ceases to amaze me with her strength, guts and determination.
How did you establish your brand? What have been the hardest hurdles to overcome?
Spotdeco has been a huge evolutionary process. Developing it as a hobby, on my own, on a tight budget, whilst working full-time, meant a lot of trial and error! The biggest hurdle is visibility. Google’s algorithms are always evolving and there’s a huge focus on high-quality content and backlinks from credible, trusted sites to your own. This means a huge amount of my time is spent generating content and reaching out to bloggers, thought leaders and the media..which is really hard when you’re a ‘newbie’.
Who are your role models?
Anyone who has founded their own business! I have a lot of admiration for health and wellness bloggers such as Madeleine Shaw, who have turned their passion into business. In today’s 24/7 world it’s so important we focus on our wellbeing to conserve and enhance our energy and nutritionists and bloggers are doing so much to drive this movement. Charity Begins at Home aims to push this to another level – enhancing wellbeing through our surroundings as well.
Any anecdotes about the business?
I don’t buy anything for my house without showing my Mum first (the same goes for clothes)! I have zero ability to match-and-pair anything!
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
As a driving force behind the creation of cohesive, happy and safe communities across the UK and beyond. Spotdeco will empower everyone to ‘do good’ at no extra cost and in their own backyard, whether it’s through tree planting or donating to local schools and hospices. Small changes by many will drive long-lasting, positive impacts everywhere, helping to change the world neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood.
What is the key to your success?
Caffeine, exercise, great food, great wine, love, laughter and supportive family and friends!
When I first launched ‘Charity Begins at Home’ – I’ve never been so excited! Running a start-up has huge highs and lows, so you celebrate the small victories – every time I’m published or a blogger or journalist says something lovely about Spotdeco, I skip around the house for a few minutes!
What motivates you, and keeps you positive when things aren’t going so well?
My boyfriend! He also works for a start-up, so he understands how it goes. There have been many moments when I’ve wanted to throw the towel in or not known which way to go and he’s been incredible at giving me a push in the right direction. Sometimes, the biggest hurdle is yourself and working solo means you can lose perspective, so he’s always amazing at helping me to get back on track.