I Built My Business From My Basement

Novelty Gift creator Laura Carradice reveals what makes her tick

Laura Carradice founded Flamingo Gifts back in 2010 at the age of 22, with the aim of bringing designer homeware and quirky gifts to all. Having started the business from home to keep costs down, the family house, basement and garage was soon turned into storage, with racking and shelving everywhere. Belle About Town meets the inspiring novelty gift seller who built her business from her basement!

How did you come up with Flamingo Gifts as a business?
The idea for Flamingo Gifts has been a dream of mine for many years, I’ve always loved the thought of creating a website offering beautiful things and being able to source new and exciting products from far and wide. I suppose in reality I thought I could do a better job than what was available at the time! The idea actually came up mid Law degree, as Law was just something which wasn’t really grabbing me. I have a creative flare and I just felt like I couldn’t really maximise that if I carried on down the legal field. I suppose looking back it was the age old thing that if you love your job you’re a lucky person, because we spend enough time working. I just had it give it a go.

What sacrifices have you made to ensure your business is a success?
Sacrifices would have to be lack of holidays. With flamingos growing at the rate it is, I do find it hard switching off and having a break. But then I love what I do, so don’t massively feel like I need that break, especially while I’m young. Late hours of course and come Christmas I literally have no life. It is work, work, work for a good three months. So I suppose I have had to sacrifice that time off and the build up to Christmas.

What are you most proud of?
It goes without saying that I am SO proud of my little baby flamingo! I guess I’m also bloody proud of myself too. Getting the business to where it is with the turnover is something I am massively proud off. It basically all comes down to me at the end of the day and , while it was a big risk it feels so good to make it work and hopefully keep making it work.

Who are your female role models?
My dear blessed Mum is my main role model. l have always adored her. Joking aside! I just think you can’t get enough of strong women, can you? I like women who don’t make a fuss of being feminist, but who just get out there and do it and are feminists. My mum and dad actually built up their own company when we were young, and I do think without seeing that first hand that I would have had the courage to go down the self-employed route. I’m not so sure. So I do feel thankful to my mum, for showing me women can also have a career and a family life.

What makes you smile?
Smile, well, I’ve got to say that I do actually love my job. Is that really sad?! Yes it’s sometimes hard work, but I’ve never dreaded going into work. Although sometimes I dread the bank statement! My friends and family also make me smile, there is nothing better than drinks and talking rubbish over cocktails. My nieces and nephew also make me smile every time I see them. The energy and lease of life they have is incredible. I also love the fact you can muck about with kids and they find something so simple so funny. My dog would also have to come into the mix here, he is a massive German shepherd, but like a bear/ wolf. Super fluffy and so cute. He sometimes come to work with me too, which I love the fact I’m able to do that.

What do you love most about London? Favourite restaurants, places to go etc.
I am lucky enough to have a great group of friends who have stayed in London after University so it’s always great popping to see them. My Uncle and cousin also live in London, so I make the effort to see family when in London too. What I love most about London is the fact it is a million miles away from the Lake District. Literally everything is the opposite and I adore having the ability to enjoy both lifestyles. I adore the diversity and casual ability to go out and spend time at busy bars any day of the week is ideal. The fact you can go out with friends and you just know it’s going to be a fun and a busy night I love. I have to say that is the one thing I miss when at home, as the nightlife is just nowhere close.
It has to be said I love London the most for bars, when with friend’s I’m not going to lie, we always seem to end up there. I like Camden and the bars on the lock, Soho is fabulous and the clubs there always make the night a memorable one. For something a little different I like the theatre scene, the shows are just incredible. A favourite of course has to be dirty dancing that was great fun with the girls. Brick lane is also a favourite of mine, the food and street art there always makes for a good time.

How do you relax?
I relax like most people at home, chilling out watching a film, Netflix and chill of course. But I also like walking in the Lake District where I am based. Going on a walk with the dog is a perfect way to clear your head and really switch off. The scenery is also stunning, so that really helps me to totally switch off and relax.

What advice would you give young entrepreneurs? What would you tell them to avoid?
Advice to youngsters has got to be go with your gut and give it a go, but be realistic – think about your cash flow think about the sheer logistics of things and prepare to be surprised at times. You’ll also need a good support network behind you to sound things off and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

 

How do you come up with your ideas? Where does your inspiration come from?
My ideas come from real life. I am lucky to have a really large family of all ages, a great group of friends from school and university. So my ideas kind of come from them. If I see something, I can straight away see the target audience, knowing exactly what kind of person would like it. My inspiration I suppose comes from having an arty flare. I always loved art & graphic design at school and this has carried on into my career. I am lucky I can put colours and prints together and have that eye for what looks great. Well I hope I can anyway!

  • To find out more about Flamingo Gifts and what it offers, click here.
Emily Cleary

Emily Cleary

After almost a decade chasing ambulances, and celebrities, for Fleet Street’s finest, Emily has taken it down a gear and settled for a (slightly!) slower pace of life in the suburbs. With a love of cheese and fine wine, Emily is more likely to be found chasing her toddlers round Kew Gardens than sipping champagne at a showbiz launch nowadays, or grabbing an hour out of her hectic freelancer’s life to chill out in a spa while hubby holds the babies. If only!

 

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