The environments we spend time in are critical when it comes to influencing the way we feel, interact with others, and experience life and work. For interior designer Jess Binns, founder of Hector & Bailey, this represents a wonderful creative challenge. To design interior spaces that connect with those who use them, and beautiful exterior spaces for those that view them.
LoA met with Jess this week at the Lioness Lean In Breakfast event in Durban, South Africa, where she shared her unique startup story.
What does your company do?
My company, Hector & Bailey, is a niche Interior & Exterior Design business.
"Mediocre has never cut it for me, no matter who the client is, I strive to deliver the best design, the best service, resulting in the ultimate interior."
What inspired you to start your company?
Initially it was out of necessity. I was living in London and it was in the midst of the 2008 recession. The company I was working for at the time unfortunately went into liquidation. I felt it was a 'now or never' situation to go on my own and see if I could keep my head above water in those financially turbulent times.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
That's a great question, and such a relevant one when you are surrounded by competition. There are many reasons I could give, but I feel my trump card (excuse the pun) is my thirst for design originality and excellence. Mediocre has never cut it for me, no matter who the client is, I strive to deliver the best design, the best service, resulting in the ultimate interior.
"I realised that in the 10 years I had spent in the industry, both interior and architectural, that I actually had a myriad of professional experiences under my belt. I felt this foundation was strong enough to embark on my own company."
Tell us a little about your team
At present Hector & Bailey is just me, myself and I ! However, I do collaborate with other designers on large projects as I love to be part of a team. I also have a close network of trades people that over the years I have cultivated to understand the Hector & Bailey design ethos and whose talented input ensures a cohesive outcome.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
It all started back in the UK, based in London, and as I mentioned previously, when the recession hit. I realised that in the 10 years I had spent in the industry, both interior and architectural, that I actually had a myriad of professional experiences under my belt. I felt this foundation was strong enough to embark on my own company. I was lucky enough to land a high profile client as my first project which enabled me to financially survive through those tough times. In 2011 I met an incredibly charming South African, who swept me off my feet and off to Durban! Hector & Bailey was the baby I brought with. Again, I was in a restricted situation with visas so could only work for myself. Once again I leapt out of my comfort zone and threw my heart and soul into making my company not only survive but thrive here in sunny South Africa.
"I want to see Hector & Bailey make a real dent in the South African interiors market, with a strong focus on the commercial sector."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I want to see Hector & Bailey make a real dent in the South African interiors market, with a strong focus on the commercial sector. I hope to expand the 'family', by complimenting the firm with fresh, new talent that shares my passion and drive for outstanding service and craftsmanship. I'm currently breaking ground with other African countries, such as Mozambique, so I also hope to see this flourish and grow.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
I'm a mum to an adorable 12 month old and I know for a fact that if I had a 9 till 5 job I would be resenting my workplace with the restrictions imposed and the limited time I'd have with my son. Being an entrepreneur means I get to choose when I spend time with him and if that means working long into the night then so be it. I champion the fact that we can be loving mothers and hard working professionals at the same time.
"I hope to expand the 'family', by complimenting the firm with fresh, new talent that shares my passion and drive for outstanding service and craftsmanship."
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
- Look at the market you are trying to crack. Ensure you go in with originality, courage and knowledge.
- There will be good days and there will be bad days. Try and stay in the moment, accept each day and keep moving towards your goal.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. We all need pepping up from time to time.
Contact or follow Hector and Bailey
Why LoA loves it….
It is always good to see truly world class products, services and brands emerging from the African continent and led by women. In the highly competitive world of interior design, it is great to see exciting projects being developed that are helping to grow this marketplace and put African designers on the map. Jess Binns, founder of the wonderful Hector and Bailey interior design company is certainly making her name andbrand felt with her ability to transform spaces that reflect the personalities and living/working needs of her loyal clients. This is a brand to watch out for over the coming years. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa