When the high cost of childcare made Catherine McCallum question her return to work, it gave her a unique opportunity to pursue her creative dream, and leave corporate life behind.
What inspired you to start up?
I worked in a corporate company as a residential letting agent. After having my second child, it wasn’t financially beneficial to go back to work, largely with the high cost of childcare. However, design is in my blood. I had been wanting for many years to do something more design centred. I was brought up in a very creative environment with mum being an interior designer and dad an architect, I also studied art history at university.
I felt the time was right and it was the important to start something that really sparked my creativity tapping into my design heritage, coupled with passion for interiors and accessories. With the support of my husband and parents, 2 More Heads was started.
Tell us about your business in 100 words
2 More Heads is a multi-brand concept store, show-casing a bespoke collection of design-led, beautiful and built to last products. I specialise in lifestyle, home, women’s and men’s apparel, accessories, and well-being products. All the products that I have chosen are inspired by my love of nature’s elements.
I work with carefully sourced, small, predominantly independent suppliers and makers, like Kate Trouw Jewellery, Giannina Capitani, Cecilie Telle, Sevak Zargarian, Mifuko, to name just a few. I also offer a service where I can advise people on gifts. I am in the process of developing lifestyle boxes where I can advise and put together bespoke boxes.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
I am an online store that sells beautiful, well-made things for your house, clothes, jewellery and lovely candles, and bathroom products. I only buy from small makers and make sure that they are made with love and care with a range that has something for all the family.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
Firstly, from my husband, who is a partner in the business and has excellent business sense. My parents are great supporters and mum especially provides some excellent ideas and inspiration. She helps on a regular basis with new products and design.
I received a start-up loan from Virgin Start-Up. The process was incredibly useful as they provide a mentor who goes through the whole application process with you and provides advice throughout.
They support you through the process of going to the decision panel, David Christie was my mentor and he was an excellent support to me. Virgin also enrol you onto a mentor programme and I am currently being paired up a mentor which I am really looking forward to starting. I get great support from friends who are also in business too. There is a great support amongst females in business which I have found so useful.
I have also been lucky to work with some excellent companies, like Spey for my PR, Webspan for my website and Flock for my branding. My suppliers are great as well and we all work together to put together the right order for my business. It’s a real team effort!
How did you access the finance you needed?
I first of all applied to the bank and I found with them I hit a bit of a brick wall. There was little support from them as to how the application process worked and sadly very little feedback as well. Then I found Virgin Start-Up, which was night and day. The process was excellent throughout and it is just what a start-up especially, needs.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I would have to say two things, first getting the loan that I required. It was such a rigorous, but useful, process. I really felt that I had achieved something great when doing that. Because of that I could focus on the important part, sales. When my first order came in I was over the moon!
How do you differentiate your business from others?
I feel that I have a niche in that I am selling products that are not widely available elsewhere. I have really made an effort to find independent, smaller makers, and as such have a collection of quite individual products. I also think that people like the personal touch, I make sure that my customers know that I am available if they want to ask me any questions, get tailored advice and can draw from my strong design ethos.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
It’s wonderful being my own boss as I have the flexibility that I need to bring up my two young boys. I also really thrive on learning new skills and when you are your own boss you spend a lot of time learning new things such as going to London Design Fair and design tradeshow; 100% Design, Decorex, Tent, (and next year Maison Object and Stockholm Design Week), to get inspiration from across the world. I am doing something that I love, which is great. I am lucky to be someone who can say that I love what I do.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
I see me growing the collection, and growing the product base that I have. I would imagine that I will partake in a range of pop-ups and I feel that there is scope for collaborations with other businesses.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I would absolutely say go for it. It’s way more hard work that you can imagine, but the rewards are worth it. To do something that you love is priceless.