Cheshire women in business: home and design

PUBLISHED: 17:56 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 20:48 24 February 2020

Women in Business

Women in Business

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8 of the finest minds in Cheshire when it comes to women in the home, property and design business

Alison ReubenAlison Reuben

ALISON REUBEN

Founder and Director, Bluebell Fitted Furniture

What's special about your business?

We're a multi-award winning family business, celebrating our 28th year and have some of the best designers and one of the most beautiful showrooms in the North West. As well as designing and manufacturing furniture, we also have our own in-house fitters, unlike most companies in our industry. Many of our loyal customers see us as a 'one-stop-shop' for all their interior design projects and we are very proud to have clients who have been with us since we started in 1992.

What do you love about your job?

I work with three members of my family but also consider the wider Bluebell team an 'extended family' who are just as passionate about our business as I am. Design and innovation means we never stand still and I'm proud that the quality of our products sell themselves. I love watching others flourish and am proud that through our Apprenticeship/Graduate schemes, we've enabled employees to carve out successful careers.

If you could go back and tell your 13 year-old self something, what would it be?

Put your mind to something and you'll achieve it. Don't be afraid to try and be prepared for your dreams/goals to change over time. As a dancer for the Bluebell Girls aged 16, who'd have thought I'd be the IoD Northwest (Family Business) Director of the Year 2018!

81-83 Washway Road, Sale, Cheshire, M33 7TQ, 0161 976 6606, Bluebellfittedfurniture.co.uk

Nira SharmaNira Sharma

NIRA SHARMA

Creative Director Ultimate Garden Designs

What do you love about your job?

Hard to choose just one aspect! I do love it when the ideas really start flowing, when I can't put them to paper fast enough - sometimes that will be at three in the morning! But perhaps the biggest joy is being on the journey with the clients, experiencing their anticipation, excitement and finally their reaction when all the pieces of the jigsaw come together. The sense of achievement and satisfaction in seeing your creation come to fruition, I feel a real sense of pride.

If you could go back and tell your 13-year-old self something, what would it be?

Gosh so many things! I'd say not to worry so much about the choices you make at school. Have the confidence and self belief to choose something you love and enjoy. You'll then always do well at it and it won't become a chore. Don't be afraid of getting it wrong as that's how we get even better. Always talk to our elders, they have so much experience, wisdom and knowledge to pass on to us that no book could ever teach!

How do you unwind?

Life is busy for me as a single mum, who is also working independently building my business. So when I can I love to catch up on the latest TV drama whilst enjoying a long soak and a glass of bubbles. I also have real passion for food and love eating out and trying the latest new restaurants.

Hale 07973 818217, ultimategardendesigns.co.uk

Susie WatsonSusie Watson

SUSIE WATSON

Designer and Managing Director Susie Watson Designs

What's special about your business?

Quite a lot! The original concept was to bring the joy of 'art' into everyday life in the form of handmade products. The things we use and handle every day can bring enormous pleasure. Works of Art should not be confined to the walls; they can be found in everyday items too. Our hand-made products are individually crafted, authentic and support the local communities in which they are made.

What do you love about your job?

My job is endlessly creative and the people I work with both in the UK and abroad have become great friends. We all care passionately about what we make and interact daily. Our factories in India are very much part of our business. We stay with them - they stay with us. Our business is their business and vice versa. It has been a great privilege to get to know India so well.

What's the best piece of business advice you have been given?

Do something you believe in. Ideally money is a by product of success not the sole reason to start a business.

44-46 King Street Knutsford, WA16 6DT 0344 9808185, susiewatsondesigns.co.uk

Julie OtulakowskiJulie Otulakowski

JULIE OTULAKOWSKI

Managing Director ArtHouse Creative Interiors

What's special about your business?

Our main differentiation from other kitchen specialists is our approach to ensuring each individual client's experience goes above and beyond their expectations. We have a tight knit team whose work represents our company ethos of turning interior dreams into reality. The journey of working with ArtHouse is personal and bespoke, no two are the same as no two clients are the same, we pride ourselves on our tailored and in depth service. With an offering of some of the world's highest quality brands we create 'lifestyles' not just kitchens. We're able to consult on the full spatial planning and interior design of a project, working along with an architect on the entire living space; ensuring it's a blissful and happy space the whole family can enjoy.

What's your best piece of business advice?

To ensure you have true passion and love for what you do every day. I am grateful I work in an industry I love, I get to work with lovely clients on beautiful projects and my passion for design and innovation continues to grow.

How do you unwind?

I enjoy Yoga, gym classes, walking our dogs and spending time in the Cheshire countryside.

57 London Road, Alderley Edge, SK9 7DY, 01625 581 313, arthousecreativeinteriors.co.uk

Diane BerryDiane Berry

DIANE BERRY

MD and Designer Diane Berry Kitchens Ltd

What's special about your business?

The people; we have an amazing team and we all look out for each other. We all have the same goals and sense of humour! We all love great design, attention to detail and spend so much time making sure all the details are right for our clients. This is from the warehouse and delivery team, to the kitchen installers to the design team, all the associated tradesmen know that they have to raise their standards when working with us. With all these amazing people we have a kitchen business that now holds more design and installation awards than any other in the UK so we are super proud.

What's your best piece of business advice?

Be honest. People always prefer an honest answer than a lie. It can be hard to say we got something wrong, but it is best to tell the truth and then speedily put it right, than concoct a story and risk being tripped up later in a lie.

What keeps you focused?

I have lovely clients and I want to bring them my very best all the time. I know staying focused is tough and recently I have struggled more than ever as we are moving premises. My clients have been so patient and supportive, they can see how hard we all work and that the new studio will be the perfect environment for helping them choose the right materials and finishes as it has lots of space to show off some amazing kitchens from both Eggersmann and Alno.

225 Bury Old Road, Prestwich, Manchester M25 1JE, 0161 798 5335, dianeberrykitchens.co.uk

Laura RobertsLaura Roberts

LAURA ROBERTS

Managing Director Modish Décor

What's your best piece of business advice?

The strength of your team, the people who you surround yourselves with. I am a huge believer in energy and you have to have people around you that get your vision, your goals, your passion, share your morals, your work ethics. You will move through life much smoother and achieve your goals quicker when you surround yourself with the right 'ones' and above all trust your instincts.

What do you love about your job?

There are so many aspects of my job that I love - travelling, being creative - but developing strong relationships with my clients and suppliers is by far the best. It is truly a gift to surround myself with such incredible people whilst getting to work on such amazing projects with them creating their dream homes. So many of my clients and suppliers have become friends.

How do you unwind?

I think work/life balance is something many people struggle with and I am certainty no different. For me I have come to accept that balance cannot always be achieved on a daily basis, some days I'm out of the house at 5.30am and don't get home until 10pm leaving no time for myself let alone friends and family, but I do try to be as aware as possible and factor in some 'Me' time. This is time spent with the people I love the most, doing simple things, like walking my dogs or cooking dinner for my friends, shopping with my mum or taking my nephews out for the day (although I probably wouldn't call that unwinding!).

2 George Street, Alderley Edge Cheshire SK9 7EJ, 01625 586 967, modishdecor.co.uk

Dawn WardDawn Ward

DAWN WARD

Director Arista Design

What's special about your business?

I have a great team. We have a special, unique bond that brings versatility to the business. Everyone has their individual skill set that Arista Design couldn't be successful without. And we're like one big family. I'm only one person, I'd be nothing without my team.

What's your best piece of business advice?

Learn how to manage people. Once you've learnt how to treat your colleagues (I don't like to call them staff because I see us all having different talents which makes us equal), you gain respect and vice versa. Leading to the ultimate working environment.

How do you unwind?

I love nothing more than when I have a free weekend and I get to cook good home-made hearty recipes with all of my family. My family's ever growing with my eldest child Darby just getting engaged, so the more the merrier.

Warford Hall, Warford Hall Drive, Merrymans Lane, Cheshire SK9 7TP, 01565 745660, arista-design.co.uk

Cara GreenCara Green

CARA GREEN

Creative Director The Little Paper Shop

What's special about your business?

TLPS is particularly unique in that we're not just a traditional design studio, or yet another stationery and gift boutique. We encompass all these things; carving a niche for ourselves as a unique space where our customers can come and soak up all things creative and where we can pretty much meet any request for innovative design, illustration and printing. Oh - and you can buy some pretty fabulous stationery while you're visiting also!

What's your best piece of business advice?

A key lesson I've learnt in business is to value time just as much as income. When you're first starting out and trying to do 'all the things', it can be hard to prioritise freeing up your time at more expense. But focusing on this by putting the right team and systems in place, ultimately gives you your time back to grow the business.

What do you love about your job?

The variety! We're very lucky as a design studio to work with many fellow creatives to create innovative business branding and design. When it comes to our wedding stationery work, there's not really another industry in which you can have so much fun within your designs - I absolutely love the creative freedom and briefs we get to collaborate on with our couples.

34 Hospital Street, Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 5RP, 01270 627389, thelittlepapershop.com

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