Harriet Rouse

 
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Harriet and Rose is a unique and independent online shopping service based in Jersey, Channel Islands, making thoughtful gifting in Jersey simple.

With an emphasis on ethical, sustainable products and packaging Harriet and Rose also offers a specialist gift reminder and finder service alongside our online shop.

Harriet and Rose is here to take all the hassle out of finding an original present while living on an island where fog, customs and courier companies sometimes conspire to make it hard to buy something original… especially if you (and we’re not saying you do) leave it to the last minute.

"It's important not to lose sight of doing things that make you happy as part of your business, even if they aren't the most profitable parts of it."

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Tell us about your path to setting up your business and what motivated you?

Before moving to Jersey three years ago I had an online bridal jewellery business which I had for five years and designed and made all the jewellery for. When we moved here it quickly became apparent that I wasn't going to be able to run in the way that it needed to be run from Jersey, as so much of the business was last minute purchases. I sold the business, and started to think about what I would do next... I always knew it would be to set up another business as I've worked for myself for so long I don't think I'd make a very good employee now(!).

I realised pretty soon that the next-day delivery culture that I'd got used to in the UK simply didn't exist in Jersey. I've always been someone who likes to give thoughtful presents as well and I often have an idea in my head of what I want to give for a birthday or an anniversary to then have real trouble tracking it down. I had to give myself much more time to do so, and I spotted a gap in the market.

Jersey has some beautiful shops, but I could never quite find what I wanted. I love that shops are shut on a Sunday as well, but I realised that there was a market for an online gift business, available to shop from 24/7 with the stock already here in Jersey ready to deliver. And since no one else was doing it, Harriet and Rose was founded.

I also wanted to extend it so that it wasn't just another website, and decided that I would also offer an gift reminder service, and a gift finder service so that people would never have the need to forget an important date or birthday again.

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How do you work and what is a typical day like for you?

There isn't a typical day. It's one of the things I love most about the business being customer fronted, you never quite know what the day will bring.

I decided right at the beginning that I wouldn't be working weekends... that's not to say I entirely switch off ever, and certainly in the run up to launching I did work a few, but by being online the shop never shuts, so I can have that time with my family without it impacting the service that I offer. Work life balance is one of the main reasons that I love to work for myself, because it gives me flexibility. The hours have to be made up and I quite often find myself uploading new stock or writing a blog post whilst the kids eat their dinner, but that's a small price to pay.

I spend a lot of time seeking out new stockists, and looking for new innovative gift ideas. Being based at Creators HQ I also get the chance to chat to other business owners, and it makes such a difference having that community to bounce ideas off.

When I first started the business I decided that every Friday would be my creative day, where I designed collections of jewellery, or worked on collaborations with other makers. That still hasn't quite happened yet, but I'm working on it. It's important not to lose sight of doing things that make you happy as part of your business, even if they aren't the most profitable parts of it.

What are the best parts about your business?

Being my own boss. It's also one of the worst bits of course, because if things go wrong or there's a problem, I'm the one that has to sort it out, but I love being in charge of what I do. It's incredibly satisfying seeing your vision and idea that started on the back of a notebook become real. The day I first saw the website layout and design I definitely did a little whoop.

I whoop whenever an order comes in too! I know it sounds silly, but when you buy from a small independent business, we really do get a feeling of accomplishment and happiness.

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What has been your greatest struggle as a business owner so far?

My own impatience! I have such a clear idea of where I want the business to go and how I want it to grow, that I sometimes forget we only launched in June 2019. It's not been very long at all!

I know that after my gift bundles all go live the food side of Harriet and Rose is the next big roll out. In the Autumn I will focus on marketing and corporate gifting. 2020 should see the launch of gift subscriptions being available, and I'm always looking ahead at what's coming next.

I recently started keeping a journal - just one line or quote a day - so that I can look back a year from now and see how far I've come. It's easy to look at what you haven't achieved, but it's really good to focus sometimes on what you have done.

What has been your biggest a-ha moment so far?

I don't know that I've had one yet. There have definitely been some little ones, and of course the moment where I came up with the business idea, but I have no doubt that most of my learning is still to come.

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Do you have any advice for other small business owners?

Follow your gut. Also, accept that everyone will have an opinion about what you are doing (and how you can do it better!). Remember that even if you don't want to, you should listen. It's annoying but you can't think of everything, and some ideas that people suggest are really good (it's just frustrating that you can't claim them as your own!). Listen always, feedback is helpful... but only act on the suggestions you want to. Never lose sight of what your vision for the business is because otherwise both you, your customer, and your business will get muddied and confused.

What currently inspires you?

Doing something that I'm lucky enought to love is a huge inspiration. I spent years at school being told what type of job I should be doing, and tried to do the corporate thing, but it wasn't me, and I hated nearly all the 'traditional' roles I tried.

Most of all though, setting an example to my daughters inspires me. I know it sounds really twee, but I love that they will grow up seeing me working for myself and realise that they can do anything they want to. It might be that they go into a more traditional career path than self-employment, but they'll know they don't have to, and the creatvity can lead to a fulfilling job.

Anything else you would like to share?

Getting started is the easy part! I know that sounds silly, but getting a business up and running is hard work, but it's fun and creative too. The difficulty comes in keeping it running. It rarely follows the path you think it is going to, so be prepared to adapt. Above all stay true to who you are. When you are a small business it is YOU that's the business. Don't panic and don't think you have to change who you are and what your vision is. And never forget that you are your business, and you are your brand, and so you have to be true to what that is... if you don't you'll not only confuse yourself, but your customers too.

You can contact and find me here

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