Two friends from Hull and the East Riding have turned their love of home interiors into a business.
Lynne Cheesman, 56, of Brough, and Alyson Stafford, 34, of west Hull, became friends back in 2007 when they both worked for the same company for several years.
But despite their “age difference”, they say they both have many shared interests – the most obvious being their love of home interiors and “all that encompasses”.
They are both keen hikers and have a passion for green spaces and regularly take to the hills exploring the great British countryside, which is often where they talk over ideas and decisions for their business The LA Home – an online retailer of luxury furniture, home accessories and personalised gifts.
It was early 2020 when the duo first had thoughts of setting up a business together and, after much discussion and research – and with a shared passion for home interiors – they decided to “take the plunge” and form the limited company in August 2020.
The duo told Hull Live: “We recognise that the home is the hub of the family and all that entails. Here we share everything – we gather to eat, to chat, relax and often celebrate many occasions, and we want our products to be able to offer the customer everything they need to do this.”
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And the two friends say it has been an “amazing success”.
“Development of a website was a huge focus for a number of weeks and with many late nights working into the early hours and phone calls and messages between each other during intermittent interruptions during a pandemic, we were thrilled to launch the website in September last year which has created an amazing success,” they said.
In terms of the items they sell, they explained: “We sell a range of furniture from beds to tables to desks and statement chairs. We have a range of extremely realistic faux flowers and plants, some beautiful clocks, and very stylish mirrors.
“We have had amazing success and received fantastic feedback from customers.”
Lynne and Alyson both had experience in sales and retail but not online and say this was a “huge learning curve”.
“It wasn’t really a big decision, it just seemed the most obvious thing to do,” they said. “We discussed at length, researched and gave it a go.
“The challenges so far haven’t so much been in skills but delivering on our own expectations and the deadlines we set ourselves, developing the business while covering our other jobs means there are time constraints, hence the many early starts and late-night finishes.”
But they would urge others thinking of setting up a business to give it a go.
See some of the products sold by The LA Home in the video above.
“Don’t have regrets, but do your research, build your own website, look beyond objectives,” they said.
“It’s also important to risk assess your business – what could hold it back, prevent growth, or damage your business? The ever-changing retail industry is sensitive to many things – customer demands and trends, raw materials, new legislation, freight costs etc. Do your homework!”
Lynne also has another company offering business support services to small and medium-sized enterprises, while Alyson works in sales and marketing.
“We combine our varied skills and knowledge, and it seems to work perfectly,” they said.
“We both work from home and both have family and friends but, due to the restrictions on visiting people over the last year, this has given us more time to focus on the business”
In terms of The LA Home’s most popular items, they said: “Dining sets, statement chairs and mirrors. Our personalised gift range is also very popular.
“We keep a close eye on seasonal and developing trends in home interiors and gifts and we will look to make this a firm focus of our business moving forward.
“We want to bring our customers lots of new and exciting products in the future. Our website and social media presence continue to grow, and we expect The LA Home to become a household name for go-to interiors and gifts.”
Visit The LA Home website here.