An Interview with Thatch & Stone owner - Nirmla Warwood
We were recently interviewed by Emma Airley, as part of a new Nurture Network & Startup Loan collaboration campaign, ‘Take the Leap’, focusing on inspiring women in business.
Read on for a preview of the interview with our store owner, Nirmla Warwood, to find out a little more about Thatch & Stone’s journey so far.
Q: Tell us a little about the ethos behind Thatch&Stone and what you do?
A: Thatch&Stone is a relatively young company. The ethos is to provide eco friendly, energy saving products for around the home and garden that will hopefully prevent tumble drying use & bring back traditional methods of drying clothes.
Q: How did you come to running the business? What’s the history of the business?
A: A colleague of mine bought the company as Cottage Doors Gates & Floors, but unfortunately died soon after due to illness. I was asked to step in to help continue with the business and then the option came up for me to buy all the stock. It seemed like a very good business opportunity to run with. This is where the Startup Loan company came in.
Q: What steps did you take when taking over the business?
A: The biggest change was moving the business. The business was previously based in Leicestershire so the first task was relocating closer to home. We found a perfect location and that’s where it’s been ever since.
The other big change was that we went from four staff originally, to three and then once the pandemic hit it ended up with me working on my own for a period of time.
For all sorts of reasons, with all its negatives, it [the pandemic] gave me chance to focus on the business, and spend time developing it. It worked particularly for me because everyone was at home, they had to be, so people were improving and investing in their properties .
For that short period of time, gardens were immaculate and people were improving their homes. It sort of helped the business take off a little bit really - we were able to provide something people wanted.
Q: What were you doing before? Have you run businesses before?
A: My background has always been sales. I retired in 2019 from running a hairdressing salon with my son. I went straight away into Cottage Doors - started by looking after it and then eventually taking over.
Q: Do you think that experience gave you confidence to do this kind of thing?
A: It was a little bit scary at the beginning. With the pandemic, the whole world was struggling and no one knew what to do or which way to go. The salon was shut so it was a case of … we had to have something to do and I chose to buy a business with the help of Start Up Loans.
Q: How has Thatch & Stone progressed then? Have there been any breakthrough moments?
A: 2020 was very good. 2021, when everybody was going back to work and some kind of normality returned, we didn’t do so well.
The difficult thing about 2022 has been the cost of everything. The cost of shipping I’ve found has gone up so much, as has the cost of raw materials, so I’ve had to look at ways at adapting. We are always constantly looking at ways to introduce new stock - so at the moment I’m exploring new ideas.
Challenging - is the word I’d use to best describe my journey so far.
Q: Do you have any big plans for the future? What does 2023 look like?
A: I am always looking for new products. So 2023 will be about introducing more eco and energy friendly ideas. We sell internationally already but we would like to have outlets in different countries.
Q: What would your advice be to other people who have the same opportunity?
A: Don’t ever be scared of doing it. At my age, it would be lovely to think I'd like to retire but I'd have to do something and it might as well be this business. I couldn’t retire because there’s too much to do.
Don’t ever give up. Anybody who thinks they don’t have the facilities or ability to do it, just go for it. The Startup Loan Company is the only way I was able to do take on Thatch & Stone.
Don’t ever be frightened. You get a lot of support, mentoring and marketing knowledge through it all. If I ever needed something I know with confidence that I could go back to the startup loan company for support.
Just do it because you never know what you can achieve unless you try.
Click the link to listen to the full episode here.