By Michael Northcott Friday, 30 November 2012

My Week: Jonathan Holmes of LuxDeco

Holmes was doing some freelance design when he spotted a gap in the market for selling whole collections of luxury goods and furniture. In August this year, LuxDeco was born...

We are still in the launch phase and the site is still in a sort of beta format so we’ve been very busy for the last few weeks. We got our first-round funding from some angel investors as recently as August, so it’s early days. We’ve got a team of 14, all working to get the website looking great and contacting brands to get them on board with our idea.
The premise of the company is to provide customers with collections of high-end products, that all work together in terms of style, appearance and quality. It’s anything from homeware, to furniture, to accessories.

You might think it is a risky time to start a business selling expensive collections in this economic climate, but now that the ball is rolling we’ve got more and more brands keen to work with us. We’ve got around 125 brands that we work with already to put together collections.

We don’t have long product runs where a product is always in stock. The collections are designed to last around a month, and there is an element of ‘social buying’ on the site, where the items that other shoppers choose help inform what the collection should look like – the idea is that people with similar tastes will often choose the same things to be in a collection. 

Because we’re just launching, it is hectic. I have tried to divide up my week spending one day on the website, one day on marketing, one day talking to brands and so on, but it doesn’t really work out like that. My time at the moment is spent on whatever needs doing – but I am also focused on securing second-round funding in the first half of next year. I’m not really that nervous about pitching to investors because as a freelance designer I got used to doing it all the time. And before LuxDeco, I had another website called Ikandi, which was a similar premise, so in a sense, that has helped to develop the business plan and means I can go in with a tried and tested format, with stats and performance details to show them.

The best thing about the job is the team of people I’m working with. They’re a great team and they all want to be there, and they believe in what we’re doing. We’ve also got some good credibility with the big brands out there because of who we’ve hired: we’ve got two stock buyer who used to work for Harrods, and one who used to work for Selfridges, so they have been able to convince a lot of high-end brands that the site is a good idea. We all work in a big open plan office so that we can collaborate easily. We literally pin pictures of different products to the wall to discuss how the new collections will look, and there are still a few features to be rolled out on the website, which everyone in the team gets involved in.

The hardest thing about it is that there’s so much to think about at the front end. Ultimately, you’ve got bills to pay and that can be stressful. At the moment though, I’m happy with where we are because we seem to be making some good progress.

If I had to give any advice to other people wanting to start their own business, I’d say make sure you believe in the product. I had to be thick-skinned when talking to investors: you can sometimes think you have a great idea and other people simply aren’t impressed by it. Take the rejections, because they happen all the time, and be confident enough to carry on anyway.

To find out more about LuxDeco, click here to visit the website

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