Shamele Russell-Cato is the founder of House of Mian, an online business specialising in curated jewellery and accessories. After starting her career in marketing, Shamele realised that she wanted to become her own boss. She was passionate about fashion and took inspiration from her mother’s love of accessories to start her brand which is how House of Mian was born.
‘Initially I set up my business as a freelance marketing consultant. I did a lot of work for brands but felt like something was missing, as if I could do more? So, I started my own accessories brand.’
With her only experience of being self-employed her freelance marketing consultancy, she was apprehensive about the work involved in setting up her own online business. ‘I remember being really scared and thought it would be much harder than it was, but it was really easy to set up. I made sure I researched a lot to get a better understanding and spoke to a few people beforehand.’
A learning experience
‘The logistics involved in setting up a business surprised me, and all the terminology caught me off guard, having never done anything like this before. It was hard to understand at first, but I quickly realised you need to be extremely organised and astute.’
After getting to grips with her new responsibilities, Shamele turned her attention to getting stuck into running her business. ‘I really enjoy having the freedom to do things however I want. There’s nobody above you to dictate how things are done. I learn something new every day and I’m constantly pushing myself.’
‘The biggest lesson I’ve learned being a business owner is that you can’t be lazy, and you have to be multifaceted. If you need something done and don’t have the budget to hire somebody to do it for you, you’ve got to learn! Google and YouTube quickly became my best friends. I’m always looking out for courses that will help me enhance my skills and improve my business.’
When asked what advice she’d give others looking to start their own business she said: ‘I’d tell people to be clear in what it is you want to achieve. Set goals and tasks and stick to them. Be focussed and relentless!’
Ingredients for success
‘My top 3 ingredients for success for running a business are: learn how to forge good relationships, learn how to negotiate and be firm. People will always test how far they can push you. So always set boundaries from the get-go – with a smile, of course!’
Being highly organised helps Shamele with the day-to-day running of House of Mian. ‘I always ensure that I’m on top of everything, especially the finances. If you’re not good with things like that it’s imperative to invest in a good accountant. Also being agile and able to stretch yourself will help you become successful. I had to take on multiple roles – marketing, finance, customer service, logistics – because I don’t have any employees!’
‘My top priorities are to always make sure that I am delivering a good service, good products and that my brand message is clear. Oh, and that I don’t beat myself up too much.’
‘Managing cashflow is frightening. But I track all of my expenditure; incoming, outgoing and keep all my receipts. I need to know how much I’ve spent and cross check it against how much I’m making. Your finances have to make sense to you else it’s not viable. But it’s a learning process – everything is trial and error!’
‘It makes it all worth it when I hear back from my customers. I love it when they tag me in posts on social media about the product they’ve purchased or the work I’ve done for them. Seeing how pleased they are makes me feel good.’
If you’re thinking about setting up your own business and becoming your own boss like Shamele, it’s easier than you might think. We’ve helped more than 750,000 people turn their passion into their purpose. Find out more about making your business idea a reality here.