Primrose Hill Entrepreneurs: Nicola Brown

Local entrepreneur Petar Savic talks to some of the start-ups and small businesses in Primrose Hill. This month he meets Nicola Brown.

You were selected for the top 100 female entrepreneurs #ialso100 campaign in the UK for 2020. Tell us more about this and what it means to you.

The aim of the f:Entrepreneur campaign is to showcase and celebrate dynamic and inspirational businesses led by women. The campaign is built around a programme of content, stories and events, including roundtables, Q&A sessions and panels, as well as larger all-day events throughout the year. On International Women’s Day all 100 women are invited to the House of Lords. I’m really excited about that.

Tell us about your business.

I have a genuine love of interiors and an ability to see potential in any house or building. I am commercially minded thanks to my own experience of making gains by renovating properties, and I consult for mid-sized property developers so that they can maximise profits on their developments. I also enjoy working with individuals, so offer trouble-shooting mini-consultations for people who need some help getting their house to feel like home. I believe that everybody should live in a home that lifts them up and makes them happy.

What was your inspiration for starting your own business?

I have worked for myself since my early 20s and it’s always felt right for me. Sometimes there are setbacks and, as a single parent, not having a regular wage can be especially daunting. At times, I have had to be completely fearless and just trust I would get through. I am not saying I recommend the ‘jump in and worry about it later’ route, but I think that working for yourself definitely requires courage; and if we question or try to plan the ‘right time’, that right time may never come.

How important to you is the option of working flexibly?

Flexible working has been key since I became a single parent, when my daughter was 18 months old. I knew that I needed to create a working life which would enable me to be around to collect her from school and put her to bed during those formative years, whilst financially supporting our family unit.

I would often work flat-out during school hours, then be back at my desk at 8 pm. My daughter is 12 now, and after years of feeling there would never be enough time in the day, I am at a point where she is out either at school or training with her swimming squa, so I honestly feel I now have more time than I know what to do with!

What support do you give or receive with other women in business?

I love the whole movement happening right now, of women truly supporting other women. Back when I was developing my own houses, it was such a male-dominated industry and lonely as a solo female entrepreneur.

These days there are more and more women in the industry and we’re all willing to share and help each other, which is really refreshing.

A turning point for me was when I was invited to join a selective business tribe called Sister Snog, which is a magnet for female founders. To have a 60-strong group of women who are making their mark in the business landscape, and inspiring each other to do the same, as well as being a constant source of support and ideas when needed, does incredible things for your mind and your business. You are the company you keep, and surrounding yourself with people who lift you up has been game-changing for me.

How long have you lived in Primrose Hill and how do you feel about it?

Although I am definitely a city girl, I do love to be near the grass and in the parks. I have been living here for five years. We make good use of the hill during the summer when we’ll go for a stroll, take a picnic or G&T and a card game, and sit on a blanket in the light evenings. During the week, if I have meetings in town, I will usually walk through Regent’s Park rather than get the tube. This always gives me a moment of clarity and time to feel super-grateful for where we live. It’s a green community space minutes from the city – the best of both worlds.

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