The idea to feature Lisa Valentine in our first eco-friendly box came when sharing a table with her one afternoon in a Cardiff co-working space. Warm and supportive, Lisa has built a wonderful, ethical online store for homeware. It's a pleasure to include her as one of our two Cardiff independents contributing to the July box.
Born out of a lifelong love of interiors, and yet a spontaneous decision in itself, Lisa Valentine Home is a collection of home items that Lisa uses herself, items she thinks you might use too. The philosophy behind the store is simple, but compelling - to live only with the things you truly love or constantly use, ideally both.
What does your business offer?
Practical products which are also beautiful to look at. The kind of items that you'd use every day, all made from sustainable materials. And I don't just sell what you might call the'boring' products like washing up brushes and scouring pads - there's room in my store for beautiful things too like vases and bags. Ultimately I stock items to use and to enjoy.
How did it begin?
That's a good question. I've always loved interior design and renovation - moving things around, painting furniture, decorating... The business started quite spontaneously. It was a leap of faith. I simply put together a collection to see if people would like it.
You could say it started with a dustpan and long-handled brush. I was always cleaning up after the children and I'd buy plastic versions, but they kept warping and needing to be replaced. It was ridiculous, so instead I sourced a brush with a wooden handle and a galvanised metal dustpan. I've used it for eight years now!
It was the very first product I sourced for my company because I thought, if I like it and find it useful, perhaps someone else will. That's been my approach since then, even before I thought of having a business plan. All I wanted was to sell things I use and love, and that I think others will too.
What are your values?
I probably was guilty, though not so much now, of buying too many things. I'm a hoarder, probably because I attach sentimentality to items. It does drag you down - the house gets full of clutter and things take longer to clean. Now I don't buy much stuff, but I do keep it.
I realised that simplifying what you own is a good way to make your life easier. Just have the few things you use and keep them for longer. If you buy an item made from wood or metal, it'll last longer and be more sustainable than continually throwing away cheap plastic items.
From my experience decluttering, I know it's better to have one item and wear it out. Then burn, recycle or compost it when you're done. I sell washing up brushes where you can just replace the wooden head and reuse the handle.
What's it like running your own business?
Wearing lots of different hats can be a challenge when you're doing your own marketing accounts, sourcing, posting, packaging and customer relations. I love doing it though, especially chatting to customers on Instagram and getting to meet them.
It wouldn't be far off to say that I'm thinking about my business 24 hours a day. It's self inflicted really - I'm always getting new ideas! At this point I could never go back to working for someone else. Starting a business is a wonderful journey, both exhilarating and challenging at the same time!
How did you go about creating your brand?
Like an amateur! I did it all myself at the start. I made my first website because even from the beginning I knew how I wanted it to look - simple, clean and unfussy. The whole brand is meant to be that.
Now I've had someone else do my website, but its not a million miles from where we started. We've all got a bit of creativity in us - it's about creating a vision and sticking to it.
If you could choose, what would be your favourite product?
I guess my long-handled dustpan and brush is my favourite, though it's a nightmare to pack! All my first products hold a place in my heart.
I've got some candles in now that smell amazing and everyone goes back for them. I can't choose! It's like picking a favourite child. There's nothing in store that I don't have at home. I use every single one.
What advice would you give to someone looking to live more sustainably?
Simplify basically. Look through your stuff and gather together the things you use all the time. Keep those. Then look at the stuff you haven't picked and ask why you're keeping it. Sell it. Give it away... Simplify your life by living with less. Use the things that you have until you can use them no more.
Two hand-picked items by Lisa Valentine Home are featured in our July Home Box - get yours here.