“Tell people what you do. Don’t be afraid to big up yourself. You work so hard you should be proud to tell people about your business and your passion will win them over.” The founder of Little Gnashers (teething jewellery) Victoria Dove on work and home life…
Victoria Dove, 37, lives in Walthamstow (north east London) with her partner Chris and two-year-old son Sid.
What’s your home like?
We live in a first floor Warner Flat – they’re quite a typical style in our area and are really fantastic starter homes. Ours is a two-bed although we took the bold choice to swap over one of the double bedrooms with the galley kitchen and knock through creating a large L-shaped living/kitchen/dining room. Our style is a mix of mid-century finds and Ikea staples – every home needs a G Plan coffee table and Expedit book case.
What time are you up in the morning?
What wakes you up?
My son Sid wakes us up, we haven’t had to set an alarm in two years.
How do you feel?
We all really love sleep in our family so usually I feel like I want to freeze time. Just five more minutes… then I’ll get up. That said I love food so the thought of breakfast is quite a motivator.
What do you do first thing?
Check my phone. I look after a number of social media accounts so usually responding to queries plus check the news. We usually bring Sid into our bed for five minutes of cuddles too.
In three words, describe mornings in your home?
Cuddly, speedy, frantic.
Tea or coffee?
Decaf coffee. I know, I know.
How might the rest of your day pan out?
I get Sid to nursery (which he loves) then I get a 55 bus to our office in Shoreditch. We’re in a business incubator called Accelerator and it’s a great set up for startups. There’s four of us in our room, I share with The Wern PR and divide my time between working for them part time and running Little Gnashers.
What’s your workspace like?
There’s around 30 startups in the building so there’s always some friendly banter in the kitchen or people going for drinks in the evening. It’s important to be with like minded people – we spend so much time at work you’ve got to enjoy it. The décor is quite simple, just white walls and white desks although we’ve got quite an impressive collection of succulents and cacti on the go now.
Tell us about Little Gnashers: when did you launch, and how/why did it come about?
Back in October 2015 I was on maternity leave with Sid and a friend told me about teething necklaces. I searched online and everything I saw wasn’t my style and was also pretty expensive – and mat leave pay really doesn’t afford you any luxuries. So after doing a bit more research I decided to go directly to a silicone manufacturer and have a go at making them myself. I found it incredibly therapeutic and got loads of complements so started making them for friends too, and it basically went from there.
Where is Sid when you’re working?
Sid goes to Alert Kids nursery at Bakers Arms in Leyton. The staff and other children are so lovely he literally skips in and I’m the one left standing there feeling sad, guilty and lonely. Curse of the working mum I guess.
What’s the greatest challenge when running your own business?
Getting everything done. I’m lucky enough to have part-time help but ultimately if I’m not organised then everything grinds to a halt and I have no-one to blame but myself. I find lists incredibly useful and just have to set myself mini deadlines. It works most of the time but I need to be incredibly self disciplined.
What makes it all worthwhile?
It’s so nice to get positive feedback from customers. Knowing that all your hard work is making a difference to poor teething babies and their stressed-out parents too. I really enjoy having a chance to be creative and being a business owner, it’s very rewarding.
Are there aspects of the production that you delegate to others?
It totally depends on how busy we are but I generally make all the necklaces myself. We have a few safety tests and checks so I like to know that I’ve seen every one before it goes out.
Three tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?
1) Get organised. In the beginning I had no idea how the business would take off so I wasted a lot of time chasing my tail.
2) Delegate. Even if it’s just a simple as asking someone else to pay a cheque into the bank or pop to the post office, the more you can delegate the better run your business will be – you need to oversee the big picture, little things are just blocking your vision.
3) Tell people what you do. Don’t be afraid to big up yourself. You work so hard you should be proud to tell people about your business and your passion will win them over.
Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
I need the buzz! I really enjoy bouncing ideas off people and the general japes of the office. I also really enjoy the company of the twenty-somethings who are teaching me about Snapchat and helping me stay youngish.
What’s the secret to career success?
Oh gosh if I only knew! I guess just be yourself and stay true to what you believe. It’s really tempting sometimes to tell people what you think they want to hear, but it usually backfires. If someone doesn’t like me or what I do there’s probably not a lot I can do about it – but at least they can say I was honest.
Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing kids/relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?
Hell yes. I feel like I’m always letting somebody down somewhere. There literally aren’t enough hours in the week. I think me-time is the thing that is usually the first to go although I’ve been having CBT for a couple of years and it turns out that me-time is actually more important than I realised for your mental wellbeing.
Describe an ideal weekend?
A massive lottery win and jet off to New York with Chris and Sid where we could scooter along the High Line singing Firework by Katie Perry. But be back home in time for the Antiques Road Show on Sunday evening.
If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
We love snowboarding so perhaps a luxury chalet somewhere in the Alps with stunning views of the mountains.