Heavenly Homes and Gardens

From a furniture upcycling side hustle to supplying Game of Thrones sets

For Jade Oliver, 34, from Bristol, what started out as an upcycling project to help pay off a £10k loan, proved so successful that four years later she quit her job as a lawyer to become a full-time entrepreneur. 

Named Career Change Award winner at the eBay for Business Awards 2018, Jade is now a full-time eBay-er, selling furniture, faux flowers and home accessories via her eBay shop, Heavenly Homes and Gardens.  

Launched in 2012, her home decor items are snapped up by customers across the world, including homeowners, theatres, set designers and production companies. 

We caught up with Jade, to find out more.

How did you end up launching your own eBay shop?

I had taken out a £10k loan to repay the debts that I had incurred when studying to be a solicitor and hit on the idea of trying to sell some upcycled furniture, as a way to earn a little extra money I could put towards paying off the loan. 

I’d always been interested in interior design and eBay seemed the perfect way to get started. As a platform, it offered me a way to get in front of lots of potential customers, without having to spend a fortune on marketing and creating a website. There was also no worrying about Google rankings. 

When did you sell your first item on eBay?

The first piece I sold on eBay was a set of dining chairs, myself and my husband had been given. I painted and reupholstered each chair and listed them individually. The first one sold within 5 minutes! I was absolutely amazed. 

With the money I made from those sales, I started looking for other items to buy on eBay, which had potential but were in need of some ‘tlc’. I started buying and listing more and more items, and interest in my eBay shop quickly grew from there. 

How did you grow the business?

Shabby chic was a huge trend at the time and so I started looking for chairs, dressing tables, wardrobes and other furniture that was good quality and had the potential to be turned back into something people would be interested in. I found items on eBay and would also go to charity shops at the weekend. 

Alongside this, I developed my own network of local couriers, who I could trust to deliver the items - which would often be large or fragile. 
Tweet this

I made sure all the products I listed were styled really well in the photos, using flowers and other accessories. It struck me one day that these items could be sold too, so I thought I’d test the market. 

I found a great wholesaler and bought some silk flowers. At the time there weren’t many good options around, and I was very selective. They went down really well, so I started adding more items, such as clocks and candles, and slowly expanded the homewares range. Sales for these types of products quickly overtook interest in the furniture, so the business just naturally moved more towards décor.

To ensure the product range is always on trend and appealing, I keep track of current interior design trends and seek inspiration from bloggers and influencers. have really high standards when it comes to the products we sell.

My main focus is quality and it’s also important to me that we source our products from local and fair trade suppliers as much as possible.
Tweet this

Providing excellent customer service is the number one priority and it’s the reason the business continues to grow. I have also started building relationships offline too, by going along to trade shows and meeting with suppliers.

In 2016, the business was turning over £36,000 and I’m expecting this figure will exceed £250,000 this financial year.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

Interiors have always been a passion of mine, so to be able to work for myself, doing my dream job every day, is just amazing. It has been challenging at times, but nothing else compares.

The biggest mistake I have made is staying in my day job too long!
Tweet this

I was too scared to make the leap initially. I was working long hours in a corporate law role, then spending my evenings packing orders, before going to the Post Office every morning before work. Now I get to do my dream job every day and it’s wonderful!

One of the best things is the flexibility that comes with being your own boss. I spend most of my time on the laptop, sourcing products and managing listings, which means I can work from anywhere. If I do want some time out, I will work later in the evening to get ahead of things the next day. I love being able to manage my own schedule.

It is hard work, but it doesn’t feel like work when you love it!
Tweet this

There’s no Sunday night work fear either. I genuinely love what I do and am passionate about it. And of course, seeing my products shipped off and used in magazine spreads, on television sets such as Games of Thrones and The Crown, and for window displays in places like Harrods, is just amazing.

What does the future hold?

I’m really excited about the future and would like to see the company continue to grow organically, as demand for my products increases. 

The business currently employs two full time employees (my aunt and my sister) and one part time employee. We are also moving into new premises this month as we have outgrown our current space. 

Going forward, I would like to introduce more own brand items and to build on our relationships with fair trade companies and other organisations who are supporting those in need.

Why did you enter the eBay for Business Awards?

I saw the email about the awards and thought it sounded interesting. The prizes were great, so I decided I’d give it a go. But when it came to entering and getting my story down on paper, I thought it wasn’t that interesting, so I nearly didn’t submit it! Now, I’m so glad I did. I couldn’t believe it when I got the call to say I was a finalist. It’s been an incredible experience.

Jade's Top tips


1.

Offer quality products and service

Provide great quality products and back them up with excellent customer service. 

2. 

Don’t wait too long to make the jump

If you’ve spotted a gap in the market and there’s demand there, then go for it. 

3. 

Do something you love

It takes a huge amount of time and hard work to get a startup off the ground, so remember what you’re doing it for. If you’re doing something you’re passionate about, then it becomes a lot easier.

Want to be an eBay for Business award winner just like Jade? You could win an all-expenses-paid trip to the USA, as well as up to £5,000 in prize money, plus much more. You’ll find loads more information about the awards and how to enter, here.

Meet Jade – from furniture upcycling side hustle to supplying Game of Thrones sets! #ebayawardsuk via @eBayUK_News
Tweet this
Established
2012
Did you know
Jade's first item sold was sold within 5 minutes of listing
Visit
Shop

ebay.co.uk

Visit

Linkedin

Follow

YouTube

Subscribe

Twitter

Follow

Get in Touch

Contact