MEET THE GIRLS....
'We don't meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason'
When Lynnette and I met on Twitter back in early 2010, we had both not long launched a vintage business - Lynnette's online shop, Lovely's Vintage Emporium - mine a physical shop in Tunbridge Wells that was called Love Is Boutique. We appeared to be kindred souls - keen business women, hard workers, multi taskers (and multi jobbers it turned out), lovers of colourful fabrics, vintage fans, firm fashionistas and devoted dog mothers - we had enough in common to soon become supportive pals of the virtual kind. When we eventually met in person some years later, it was like we'd known each other forever!
We thought we'd write a blog post to introduce ourselves properly for those that don't know us well and give a little context in to how we got here and what we both do.
All About Me - Paula
How would I best describe myself when I was young? I'm a child of the 70's - 1970 born to be precise, a Piscean (all Piscean traits fully intact and accounted for thank you very much), 2 siblings (brothers - one close in age, one much younger by my mothers second marriage), a studious child with a good sense of humour, a fierce and loyal friend, a poet on the sly (I can write rhyme on demand - one of the better traits I inherited from my father), a people pleaser, a lover of bedtime, a fanatic Duranie, the kid that befriended everyone - especially if they looked lost, bullied or lonely much to the annoyance of my inner circle sometimes...
I met my husband on my first girls holiday abroad in Corfu when I was a babyfaced 17. We were engaged a year later, me leaving my home in Wigan and moving to Kent. We married when I was 22 on a beach in St. Lucia and I gave birth to our children when I was aged 25 and 28, all whilst working on the trading floor of an investment bank. Obviously I don't mean I had the children whilst I was actually AT work, although it's not unheard of in my industry!
1992 was a HUGE year for me and not only because I got married but I decided I was fed up working locally and was lured by the bigger salaries and the fancy pants lights of London and so I became a commuter. My career at the time was in the travel industry, starting as a Saturday girl aged 14, and I decided I would upscale from my job in a retail agency, to work at an in-house travel department in a large city investment bank. It was crazy. I went from booking holidays for old ladies to Benidorm to chartering planes, organising 400 flights to conferences in New York and calling BA to hold Concorde for the Chairman and although it was really stressful, I loved the shouting, the panic, the demands - I finally felt at home.
Who would have thought that less than two years later, whilst delivering airline tickets to the trading floor, I would get the chance to apply for a job as an assistant on the foreign exchange trading desk. The rest of the tale is like one of those stories that people tell in magazines, the ones where you're not quite sure whether they are actually true, how much embellishment there is and, bugger me, make you think why don't I have that sort of luck. Always better lucky than smart I say, but I hope this was a mix of the two. Needless to say, I got the job and so started my investment bank journey.
My investment banking life began, firstly as an assistant then after 6 months I was promoted to junior trader, jumping to associate and then to executive director all before I was 30... You couldn't really make it up and I soon was to lead the charmed life of a trader - house husband at home with the kids, nice holidays, private schools, flashy wardrobe, nice cars - all until August 2008 that is.
Aged 38, I was knackered, disillusioned, beaten by the last year of financial crisis, peed off with politics at work, stressed, (with some worst times to come) and totally cheesed off at women still being the underdog and I was given the opportunity to jump off the band wagon. And jump I did. I was given two choices - take a decent redundancy package or move departments on a lower salary - it took me sub 4 seconds to decide....
When you've done the same job for 14 or 15 years, you can't even contemplate what else you could do. The ensuing demise of banks and the financial crisis made it virtually impossible for me to get another job in trading and after some dabbling back in the city in a sales job, I decided I would take some time off and find out what it was I wanted to do with my career. Having a supportive husband helped - in fact he has only ever been encouraging but he also knows it's a total waste of time to try and dissuade me of anything once my mind is set! I'm a stubborn cow.
I can remember the exact moment that the idea for my business was born. I was on a train to London, staring out of the window, slightly depressed at the thought of the day ahead when the idea to start a my own dress agency popped in to my head. Within minutes, out came a notepad as I scribbled ideas down for a business plan - the plus, the minus, the good, the bad, the costs - all guess work at this stage of course - but the splurge of ideas came out thick and fast - as if they'd always been there and I'd somehow opened my own pandoras box.
Some 6 months later, after a huge amount of planning, buying, sourcing, painting of walls and doing business courses, I was opening the doors to my shop. In a little listed 4 storey town house in Tunbridge Wells, I started my retail fashion journey. 'A treasure trove' (as quoted in Vogue don't you know!), I was able to fill 4 retail rooms up to the rafters with gorgeous pieces of fashion - mostly second hand - but I had a eye for what women wanted to buy and the fashion gods made sure that I received a steady stream of people wanting me to sell on their clothes, bags, shoes and jewellery, plus I sourced like a trojan - fairs, antique shops, dealers, eBay.. I was everywhere.
For the first time, I found out that I was good at other things other than my old career of making money by buying and selling currencies for investors and managing this for the bank. I was a good organiser, a could sell well, I could understand branding, social media, I smashed it at networking... all things that helped me build my little shop from nothing to a well known destination in my first six months. But... and there is a big BUT to this journey folks.
Becoming a successful destination shop, attracting lots of social media followers, being written about in glossy mags and broad sheet newspapers sounds glam and glam it was. But without the constant churn of 24/7 work, none of this would happen and even though I had some employed help - the buck stopped with me.
After two years, I was more than able to pay my staff, bills, rent and all the other things that go with running a physical business - and by now we had a functioning retail website - but I still couldn't take a salary and that's when it began to get tough. The realisation that maybe this wasn't going to be my dream career after all, stung a bit. Especially when my accountant and friend suggested I should take a part time job in the city to help pay my bills at home before things got really tough.
And so, without boring you all but covering my journey to now, I ended up keeping my lovely little shop for 5 years. I worked, first part time and then back full time, in the city - still working weekends and holidays in my business to give my staff a break until one day it was obvious that I couldn't continue any more. I was beaten - fed up of no holidays, tired with the constant pull of corporate life vs my own business, cheesed off with the responsibility of staff, browbeaten with the increasing bills and less foot fall as I struggled to keep my regulars when I wasn't there to tend to them.
For my business to thrive, it needed me full time - I was it. I was doing my best in the evening and at weekends but I was torn. I was back in the city and doing well and I had missed the banter of a trading floor, the click of a commuter heel. So with a heavy but relived heart, my business was sold, my website closed.
The whole experience has been something that has shaped me for the rest of my life.
To start my own business wasn't the best financial decision I've ever made in my life but it's taught me the most valuable lessons - so for that I will never regret it - and most of all I've learned about my own capabilities which in turn has made me a stronger, more confident person and a better employee to boot. It's also made me meet the nicest of people (Lynnette being one of them) that I would have never crossed paths with in my other life.
For that, I can never have any regrets....
So now, I'm a busy gal still - working full time in the city - I am a relationship manager at a large fin tech firm, looking after their key investment banking relationships from a global markets perspective in London (and sometimes in other countries). I spent A LOT of time on trading floors talking trading fx, government bonds and the like - yeah sounds more glam than it is!
My ideal evening is a quick work out at the gym, a glass of wine and then a snuggle with two of loves of my life - my two soppy chihuahuas, Min and Dougie. Our kids are 22 (girl) and 19 (boy) so you can imagine, the empty nest syndrome is sometimes real! More on that in other blogs... and I've been with my husband for a whopping 31 years!! George Cross arrives soon I'm told.
One of the four rooms of fashion at Love Is Boutique (that was).
All About Me - Lynnette
Just like Paula I am a child of the 70’s too. I am not from anywhere as my childhood was spent moving around the UK due my parents’ careers. I have one brother, who is a supremely talented artist. One of his pieces of art, that I own, is so big it is currently in my garage (sorry Si). He also has schizophrenia. Both my parents are alive and well and still together. I am very lucky.
I left home at 18 and moved in to a bedsit but didn’t stay there for long as I soon saved up and went travelling ‘for a year’. Three years later my mother rang the kibbutz I was on in Israel at the time (I had also been a nanny in America, crewed yachts in Greece, worked in old people’s homes, been a shop assistant and more) and informed me I had two interviews for university degree courses. I can’t think where my drive and pushiness come from…
I then did a social policy honours degree in Devon but spent the first two years drinking a lot of cider and looking after my-then boyfriend who had cancer. By year three he was in remission, we parted, and I then worked VERY hard and played hard (you get my drift).
I moved to London after getting a good degree and was determined to work on a magazine. I had been reading them avidly since very young (I especially loved Just Seventeen and Smash Hits). I was also obsessed by Marcelle D’Argy Smith who was editor of Cosmopolitan in the 1980s and 1990s. Look her up. Awesome woman. Her editor’s letters were full of glamour, romance and fun. I wanted a job like that.
I started out - NOT AT COSMOPOLITAN – but as Compiling Editor of the puzzle magazines Kriss Kross and Cross Reference. We all have to start somewhere. But looking back it was the best job. It was like an apprenticeship as I was thrown in at the deep end. I had to commission, write pieces, sort out the cover, write an editor’s letter etc. I was basically a magazine editor immediately after getting my degree.
You don’t need to read thousands of words about my career so here is a quick romp through my staff jobs since leaving puzzle magazines in 1995. I have been a sub-editor on national newspapers, health and beauty editor of New Woman Australia (I moved to Sydney for three years), editor of Cosmopolitan Hair and Cosmopolitan Real-Life Stories (yes, I made it to Cosmo!), beauty director of Eve, editor of Celebrity Homes, associate editor of Now, deputy editor of Woman’s Own, group editor of Publicis Blueprint and fashion and beauty director of Saga magazine. I have also worked on countless magazines and newspapers as a freelance writer and stylist and have consulted for numerous brands, PR companies and trend agencies.
Just like Paula the recession post-2008 had a huge impact. I was made redundant from my magazine editor job and freelance journalism paid less than it had two decades before. So, alongside my journalism in 2010 I decided to open a vintage fashion shop to sell my huge collection of vintage. But after research I realised that paying the rent on a shop and staff wages wouldn’t work so I set up a retail website instead in 2011 (Lovely’s Vintage Emporium). In 2013 I won Best Vintage Fashion & Accessories Website at The National Vintage Awards – I am still the only member of staff! Last week was the seventh anniversary of my website. I am very proud that it is still going.
More recently I have moved in television production. I am now a development producer for two days a week for a TV production company i.e. my job is now to come up with ideas for TV shows. Harder than it sounds…
Personally, I am engaged and getting married this summer and I have two incredible step-children. I also have a Dogs Trust rescue dog called Miss Polar (check out her Instagram account www.instagram.com/MissPolarDog) who has been my best friend for over ten years.
Age means nothing to me. I mean it. Totally irrelevant. I was 50 recently and so what. I am still healthy, well apart from a bit of a creaky hip. I still wear whatever I want (yesterday I was in a silver Puffa coat and bright red Puma trainers). I still have a cracking sex life (thanks Bazza). I work seven days a week and love it. We recently bought a house and are planning our wedding. The words MIDDLE AGE has no meaning really. Age is a mind-set.
As for me and Paula, we met online in about 2010 and we are both basically mad crazy about fashion and dogs. What more is there in life? She is an amazing woman, whom I have huge respect for. How she runs a home, two kids, a husband, 5000 dogs (poor Min! #injoke), a majorly successful City career and stays trim and runs a continuous online life too I don’t know. How do you do it Paula? We hit it off online and in real life instantly. I love the mad old (middle-aged) bird. True. So, we set up Feeling Flush together, as we were. The secret Facebook page is so busy and interactive. THANK YOU FF’s.
WE GOT THIS. #FFS
Instagram: @LynnettePeck @LovelysVintage @70smagazines @90smagazines @MissPolarDog
Twitter: @LynnettePeck @LovelysVintage