Sam left behind the finance industry to start his own luxury hamper business. This is his story.
What career did you start out in, how long were you in that area and what prompted you to make a career change?
I started as an odds compiler for a spread betting firm in London. I worked night shifts, meaning I trading on American Sports. Although I absolutely loved the job, after doing it for two years I thought I should do something more closely aligned with my finance degree.
From there I went into a financial software consulting role for four years before quitting altogether to start Curated & Hampered, a luxury hamper business sourced with independent brands.
What were some of the practicalities you managed when transitioning through your career change?
Not having a regular income is still the hardest part of the transition. I think lots of people (including myself) dream of quitting their job to start their own company – thinking it’ll bring more freedom compared to being employed. The issue is that unless you already have customers waiting or you’ve completely reinvented the wheel, getting customers takes a lot of time, effort and money.
Saying that, I don’t regret making a change at all because I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in my previous role and I wanted to do something that would really challenge me. My girlfriend has always said there is a gap in the market for luxury hampers so I thought: why not go for it. After all, no risk means no reward.
Which tools did you find helpful and why?
In today’s world there are so many different tools that can help you start a business and many of them require little investment. Thanks to easy-to-use website providers like WordPress, SquareSpace and Wix, we built our website for less £150, spend about £15 a week on Facebook advertising, and send out emails with MailChimp for free. However, just because there are lots of tools out there, that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to succeed.
My ultimate tool is and always will be Excel. You can literally do anything with it from costings and accounting, all the way through to a CRM. It is timeless.
Talk through some of the challenges you faced along the way.
I’m not a design person by nature and so starting a business where design is a major focus was and is my biggest challenge. That said, there is lots of help available such as online logo builders, or if you want to outsource a project to someone with a specialist skill set, websites like Upwork and People Per Hour are brilliant.
How do you feel about your current career, compared to how you felt in the one you left behind?
I don’t regret it at all. While we are still a very young company, I’ve learnt more in the past six months than I learnt in all my working years before I made a career change. Running your own business is also addictive, so trying to focus on one thing when you are endlessly coming up with ideas and concepts is a challenge within itself. I think I have a new idea pop into my head everyday and without those close to me keeping me in check, I would be running about 10 businesses by now!
What, if anything, do you miss about your previous career?
I could go down the obvious route and say money, but the thing I miss the most is being surrounded by people all day. There are plenty of days sat at the kitchen table when you don’t speak to anyone for about eight hours, especially when you first start out. I really struggled with not being able to chat to someone in the office, but then again, I don’t miss someone doing that to me when I’m knee-deep in work, so it all balances itself out.
What were some of the highlights you experienced when making your career change?
The main one would definitely be telling people I now run my own business. People are automatically interested, which makes a big change from when I used to tell people I worked in financial software!
What have you learned about yourself through this process?
I need to be around people to really get on with work. I used to love working from home when I worked full-time in an office environment, because it felt like a nice break, but when you are working at home 24/7 it can become very claustrophobic. I’ve learnt that I need to get out of the house to really get things done, even if that simply means working in a coffee shop!
What advice would you give to someone who’s considering making a career change?
Try not to worry about it too much. Remember that figuring out what you’d love to be doing, and then actually working in a job that you love can take a long time to get to. You’re going to make mistakes in the meantime, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
And finally, what are you excited about over the next few months?
Continuing to grow my business and meeting new people who also share an enthusiasm for starting new ventures. I always love hearing other ideas and as I’m looking into joining a coworking space, that’ll be a great way to meet new people.
Follow Curated & Hampered on Instagram @curatedandhampered and visit the website: https://www.curatedandhampered.com