Small business: Ingrid Starnes on running a business from home

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New Zealand fashion designer Ingrid Starnes in the workroom at her Pt Chevalier home. Photo / Sarah Ivey
New Zealand fashion designer Ingrid Starnes in the workroom at her Pt Chevalier home. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Fashion designer, Ingrid Starnes and her partner Simon Pound run their business from home in Pt Chevalier.

Ingrid Starnes:

What made you decide to run the business from home?

We started after having our twins, so being at home meant being able to work around sleeps and caring for the twins.

What do you like about it?

Not having to travel to work and being able to get to the workroom at any time is great. Always being near for the kids. We have a wonderful au pair that lives with us and looks after the twins between 9-5, and I look after Gertie, our 10 month old.

What are the challenges?

Always being near for the kids! That really is the best thing, although sometimes it is tricky to be able to get full concentration for any kind of period of time without some of the chaos of kids coming in. But the occasional sewing error is far outweighed by all the great surprising moments. The workroom staff love it too.

What sorts of cost savings have you experienced?

By having the workroom at home we save on travel. Renting one place that is bigger is more cost-effective around utilities and rental than renting two smaller places.

What are the challenges?

Keeping a separation between work and life - with couriers dropping things off from 6:45 in the morning and work often beginning afresh once the kids are down for the day - and with staff and contractors in and out all day, you have to love your job! I think you have to really want to do what you do - and then it isn't too hard.

Do you have a particular space in the house for the business?

Yes, a converted sleep-out for the workroom which is great as at our last rental we had the workroom in the living room and that was a bit overwhelming. We have office space inside and share the kitchen and living area with work stuff.

What infrastructure have you had to invest in?

We have bought, borrowed, begged and been gifted all kinds of machinery, trims, fabric, tables, irons. There is a wee bit of kit involved in having a workroom. So many in the industry have helped. For example, Murray Crane consolidated his workrooms into one and has lent us a range of great items he no longer uses.

Is it important to keep it separate - or do you have designs on the kitchen table?

We definitely sometimes have the designs on the kitchen table. With Simon working other jobs we have to do a lot of our planning and work together at night.

How does working from home affect family life? What do the children think?

Simon once said it is great that the kids grow up seeing Mum making things happen. It also means we are lucky to have a lot more to do with our kids during the day than many working parents.

Do you have work meetings from home?

For many meetings we'll pop up to the store in Herne Bay and go to the lovely Zus and Zo next door. The kids are great, but they're still kids and are likely to run in wearing a tutu and a spiderman mask and no pants just as you are getting to an important point.

Next week: Building your brand from scratch will be one of your first challenges as a start up. How did brands like Icebreaker and Moa build their brand from day one? Email me, Gill South, at the link below:

- NZ Herald

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