Home­work that means busi­ness

Peo­ple are do­ing their dream job from their spare rooms and garages. Here’s how to pur­sue a pas­sion project and make a liv­ing

Real Homes - - Front Page -

When you are in a job you don’t want to re­tire from, you are ob­vi­ously happy. I can’t see my­self re­tir­ing from this,’ says Jane Til­ley of Wiry Works, the wire sculp­ture-mak­ing busi­ness she cur­rently runs from the cor­ner of her lounge (etsy.com/ uk/shop/janetil­ley­wire). Af­ter years spent in the print and de­sign in­dus­try, Jane, driven by a de­sire to cre­ate, started turn­ing her sketches into a 3D re­al­ity made out of florist’s wire – twisted, bent and shaped into any­thing from birds in flight to cam­eras to bot­tles of Jack Daniel’s. A desk in the liv­ing room of her fam­ily’s house in Rugby is her work­shop/of­fice, while an up­stairs cup­board is her sup­ply room.

Though the con­cept of re­mote work­ing from home re­ally came in with lap­tops, good Wifi con­nec­tions and a de­sire for a bet­ter work/life bal­ance, the prac­tice of run­ning a busi­ness where you live goes back cen­turies. The term cot­tage in­dus­try was coined be­fore the In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion, when fam­i­lies would try to earn in­come through the small-scale pro­duc­tion of some­thing that was later to be mass pro­duced in fac­to­ries. It might have been any­thing from dainty lace and cloth­ing, to pots, pans, nails and even guns.

These days, run­ning a busi­ness from home is more of a way to pur­sue a pas­sion and turn it into some­thing prof­itable, with­out the worry of hav­ing to rent space to do it in. The vir­tual world, with

on­line stores like Etsy, Folksy, and Red­bub­ble, is your shop front.

From such hum­ble starts, global busi­nesses can grow. Shaun Pul­frey, of Tan­gle Teezer brushes, used to pack them in his flat while watch­ing TV with his mum. Julie Deane and her mum, Freda, first ran Cam­bridge Satchel Com­pany from Julie’s home in Cam­bridge, just try­ing to make enough money to send her chil­dren to a bet­ter school. Com­puter gi­ants Ap­ple and Hewlett Packard be­gan in garages at­tached to their founders’ homes.

In 2016, re­search showed that one in two busi­nesses in the UK were ac­tu­ally regis­tered as be­ing based in their own­ers’ houses. And though the premises might have been small in size, the money they were con­tribut­ing to the UK econ­omy was not; they col­lec­tively gen­er­ated about £94 bil­lion.

But it’s not (all) about the money for many home work­ers. It is about do­ing some­thing they love, and dis­cov­er­ing cus­tomers who ap­pre­ci­ate their prod­ucts as much as they en­joyed mak­ing them. ‘Work­ing in an of­fice, you barely get a thank you if you’re do­ing a good job,’ says Jane Til­ley. ‘But the pos­i­tive com­ments you get do­ing some­thing like this are fan­tas­tic, and ev­ery sale is an ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

‘Be­ing at home lifts a lot of stress from your shoul­ders. You can make your own de­ci­sions, have your mu­sic play­ing, cre­ate a re­laxed at­mos­phere. It isn’t al­ways ideal that it’s in the lounge, and the kids com­plain when they find wires. But work­ing from home, for me, it’s the best place.’

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