We often encourage girls to go for their wildest dreams and fake it ’til you make it. We sat down with Rosie Davies, founder of affordable PR firm for small brands The London Fashion Agency, to find out exactly what it takes to start a business from your bedroom!
Tell us about the process of starting a business from your bedroom.
I had no funding or loans, when I started I worked as a nanny and in a pub and I kind of funded it through that. I only started LFA with five hundred pounds in a bank account, there were no big costs for me at that time, the only thing I needed was a website – and I built all that myself so I didn’t need big space or an office space, I didn’t have to have clients come to me because I would always meet them, so nobody knew I was basically in my bedroom.
“Oh The London Fashion Agency you must have a huge office!”
The desk was like at the end of the bed, and when I used to go to sleep there’d just be like all my clients stuff on the wall so I couldn’t sleep. My intern at the time, Liz, who was fab, used to work from the window seat in my bedroom with her laptop. It’s all in the name, people were like “Oh The London Fashion Agency you must have a huge office!”
‘You don’t need a big budget, just do it well’
What would you say to girls who want to start a business from their bedroom?
Execution is everything. You might have the best idea in the world, but if you don’t execute it properly no-one will believe it’s the best idea in the world. You have to make people believe it’s a good service visually and through your content, that’s why most brands fail – because they launch something but they haven’t visually or content-wise thought about it and people don’t want to buy it.
‘ I wanna do something different!’
If there’s one thing I could change going back to my bedroom, it would be how LFA looked. You don’t need a big budget, just do it well – people won’t guess you’re in your bedroom.
How long has LFA been around and how has it evolved over the years?
LFA has been around three years, the services we offer now have been around for just 6 months. It’s kind of evolved, so firstly it started with “I’m gonna do PR and marketing and it’s gonna be great!” but then I was like “Actually, I don’t really want a central London office, I don’t want a showroom, I don’t wanna be in a PR agency, I wanna do something different!” So then it went into like “Ok, I’m gonna do PR and marketing but we’re only gonna work with small brands and our prices are gonna be too much.” That was the problem, we were doing really good thorough services when really brands just wanted half and then they’d do the other half themselves. So then I cut it all again and made it into what it is today, which means the brand can take as much from us as they want.
They can take press release help, or social media support, or even just an hour consultation for seventy-nine pound. Or they can have full PR, so we do everything for them, but we do ask the brands to send out their own samples, hold their samples. We’re not gonna charge them three thousand pounds a month and have no communication with them.
Do you have a business background?
No. I always knew from maybe aged 8 that I wanted to start a business, only because my dad did, and I think when your parents have done it, it becomes the norm. And people say “It’s completely absurd that you’re doing this,” and I’m kind of like I don’t know any different, I don’t know what it’s like to have a full-time job. I liked growing something, I’ve started a few businesses before this one, so I suppose I’ve learnt along the way – I’ve made plenty of mistakes.
How did you turn those mistakes around? Do you think failure is really the worst thing that can happen in business?
Do not worry about failing, Oh My God, not just in this business but in other businesses I tried to start, which were definitely not the right businesses for me – because I came from a fashion background I kinda thought I was always gonna start a product business, but that’s really difficult, I’m really glad I didn’t do that now. I couldn’t get things off the ground, didn’t sell anything and it is difficult and you learn from every single mistake.
In the agency, what mistakes haven’t I made? Everything. I have probably stopped working with people in the past due to failures, but it’s probably failures that were good for the business. So I learnt that luxury PR was not for us, probably because of past failures. It’s not something I’m necessarily comfortable with, it’s not my market and I shop small brands so I should work with small brands. You make loads of mistakes in the beginning. I don’t know anything about financials or anything, I just learned.
Do you have any networking tips too? You have to do a lot of networking to get a business off the ground.
Yes! Never ever turn down the opportunity to meet with anyone, no matter how small fry or big they might be, whether it’s an intern who’s doing a fashion degree or someone who heads up the buying department of Topshop, you never know who knows people. My biggest tip is to speak to everyone, I know it’s terrifying – I hate walking into an empty room. I normally walk up to people and go “Hi guys, I’m just gonna join your conversation because I’ve got no one to speak to!”
The other good thing to do if you’re going to a networking event is to try and find other people who are attending on social media.
Do you have any apps or books that have saved your life or helped your business?