Decision to switch careers and start their own business pays dividends

Kentish Pip Wild Summer Sparkling Elderflower Cider
Abigail and Chris Willis

We first tiptoed around the idea of creating our fabric and wallpaper design in 2016.

Chris’s background was in engineering and mine in was in marketing, but I’d always been a creative person.

Then I had a milestone birthday and realised that I wanted to give up my job in marketing. Designing fabric and wallpaper patterns seemed like an obvious route to go down, given my ability to draw and natural love for interiors.

A supplier we once had a meeting with said to me: “You’re a bit long in the tooth to be getting into interiors.”

I sat there in front of him, eight months pregnant, having just quit my old job and gave him a steely glare. “You’re wrong,” I thought to myself.

His rather rude comment actually turned out to be the catalyst which spurred Chris and me on to pursue our dream.

During 2017 and 2018 we completed our first collection and built a website in preparation for our launch of Willis Bloom.

Having the photography done and our website going live made it all become very real.

We went live with our website at the end of December 2018 and quickly discovered it was a terrible time to launch an interiors business!

We were aiming for September, but a delay with the initial printing meant that everything, including the photography, got set back.

The reality was this gave us time over Christmas to test the website live, get initial feedback, and be really ready for relaunching in early 2019.

So much of this is new to us and takes far more brainpower and energy than our previous jobs ever did!

Financially, too, it’s a massive shock losing decent salaries; and so holding your nerve until sales come in is incredibly difficult.

People often talk about launching a new business being a ‘roller-coaster’ experience and there really is no better way to describe it. Sometimes it feels amazing and at other times you’re dusting off your old CV just in case.

Like so many people, we’re now on our second careers, and the more we talk to people the more we find others just like us – people who have worked crazily hard all through their twenties and thirties on a frantic career that takes everything and then they think ‘whoa! That’s enough’.

We wanted to claim our lives back and put us and our family as the top priority. So we ditched the life-sapping careers (and proper salaries) and did just that. And you know what? It’s worth it.

You need less ‘stuff’ than you think if you have a great family around you.

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