I met Wendy last year through the Business Girls Network and popped into her beautiful home based shop - The Wendy House - to take a proper look around! Wendy is one of the loveliest, chattiest and friendliest ladies you could meet, she is bubbly and enthusiastic and clearly loves what she is doing. She also has a sharp creative eye for choosing items for her shop and presenting them all in the large bright room she has above her garage at her home on the outskirts of Maidenhead in Berkshire.
I of course came away with a few purchases! And then went back for a few more bits for Christmas gifts and then ordered one or two more things which Wendy posted to me! Like the pretty and bright coloured Powder gloves in the photo below.
Wendy is proof of the importance of embracing life in midlife and that it is possible to change careers and do something different, something you love, that it is never too late.
So I asked Wendy if she would share her story on my blog and offer my readers a discount too - so you will find both a discount and details of a giveaway she is currently offering - and if you are a scarf addict like me then you will love the giveaway! All details are below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi I'm Wendy, Am I really 56 this year, wow how time flies. I've been married for 32 years and have one son aged 26 who is making his way as a self-employed photographer and videographer in London (useful for me if he ever has time!!). We are a small family but very close and we all support each other in what we are doing. I was born in Kings Langley in Hertfordshire. I have now lived in Berkshire for over 30 years, 20 years in our current home, so have never really gone far from my roots.
And tell us a little bit about your business venture and what inspired you?
After having to say a sad farewell to a job of 22 years after a difficult time with the businesses owner who had been a very dear friend (also best man at our wedding) I decided not to go and work for someone else and set up a small nail salon at home (hence my business name with the 'nails it' added). I chose nails, very random I know, because after 30 years in accounts and chatting to a close friend who was also looking to change a life long career and this was something she had thought about. I wanted to sell a few accessories along the way as I would say this was much more me being a life long shopper of all things girly. I started to realise people owed me more for their purchases than the nails I'd done and so the selling side grew and grew with the business evolving all the time until what it is today and I no longer do any nails at all.
What does an average day look like for you?
Sadly an average day is sitting in front of my computer or phone working on events that we hold at The Wendy House, posting to my social media platforms, uploading to a website, doing my own home paperwork and then serving any customers that come to the shop on the days I open.
My favourite times are when I am actually in The Wendy House, serving my customers and sharing in their enthusiasm for what I've created. Some weeks I manage to go to a circuits class in the morning at least once or twice but sadly that is not on during school holidays but this year I must take my bike out when that happens!!
What has been your biggest challenge?
I think my biggest challenge has been doing most of it on my own although my best friend, husband and son have been very supportive all the way. It's hard when you get to the stage you really do need help but you can't afford it - well you could if you didn't have to earn money yourself. I do now have some occasional help and would love more. Its time to think do I take the plunge and see if by having help the business will grow more. What is the saying "it's important to work on the business not in the business" I'm thinking about it anyway.
What advice would you pass on to someone wishing to change career in midlife?
Now this is tough as we all would be approaching it from different angles. At the time when I left my job of 22 years with a nice car, perks and salary, my husband just bought home more money and we didn't go without. This isn't how it works for most so I would say think very carefully about your financial position (there's the bookkeeper in me) and realise that it takes time to build a business. Maybe you can start your change by running it alongside what you currently do but once again this is lots of work. If you have a passion though or a desire to work as and when you want but also often incredibly long hours then go for it.
I work extremely hard and still don't earn what I used to but have a true passion for The Wendy House and the fact it's my baby and I love seeing how it grows each year and the more it does the more I become inspired and the harder I work.
I think children can often be a reason people have a change too and no better time really as you can be flexible around your children and maybe you weren't going to carry on with what you'd done before so a great time to take stock. Think what would work for you and maybe follow a passion you've always had. You won't know if you don't try.
Do you have a signature style, an everyday look that you love?
Wow as a business selling clothing what is my style. One lady, when we went out clothes shopping for The Wendy House, said I think you are more classy but I'm not sure. I have loved clothes and accessories for years and have far too many of them all. Most of the time these days I live in trousers and a top but I do love to wear dresses in summer. I try as much as possible to wear things I sell but they are not always my fit.
I still love buying clothes when I go abroad or to some of the lovely small towns that still have gorgeous individual boutiques. Cirencester has become my favourite shopping town recently. I love to find something different and try to bring this to my business. I often hear you can't find this locally, nice to find something different or you have a good eye which always gives me great pleasure.
I really need a good clear out and love the idea I heard for lent, to take an item of clothing each day and give it to charity. I've taken it one step further though and I'm doing one item of clothing, one accessory and one home item and then I'm either having a big garage sale for charity to support my husband and son who are dong the London Marathon or it will go to the local charity shops.
How do you balance your business with family life?
It's just my husband and I at home and has been for a few years now. We both lead busy lives with work and play where we have our own interests. My big passion is dancing and my husband's are Arsenal football and mountaineering!! So we are often ships in the night but then we value the time we spend together especially our holidays which these days are quite a few. I'm really lucky that we can do lots of holidays and short breaks plus I do a number of dancing weekends and normally a weeks holiday each year.
One definite perk of both being your own boss means within reason the only restriction is financial!. We both love travelling and this year my husband is 60 so lots of things being planned. We are hoping to do Vietnam and Cambodia later in the year and have recently started planning it. It looks amazing and I can't wait for what I'm sure will be a very memorable holiday to look back on. The itinerary however looks crazy so I may need a holiday on our return except that will be my busiest time of year in the lead up to Christmas when retail goes mad!
What is your biggest achievement to date?
I think being married for 32 years is a big achievement these days and I feel very fortunate to have had no big upsets in our time together and to have a fun and easy going son who loves life and his work in London.
If we look beyond family, then it has to be that 5 years ago I set up The Wendy House after 30 years of only ever being an employee doing bookkeeping and that 5 years on I no longer do any bookkeeping in an office, I just have my own small business customers.
I have more passion than ever for my business now and since 2018 it has been my sole focus, a year which saw huge growth for The Wendy House giving me the push to grow the business more and hope that lots more local customers discover my fairly unique way of selling and others far and wide find my small website and support it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
My husband and I plan to be retired around that time if not a little sooner and in the first few years we will do lots of travelling in the form of longer holidays.
We've talked many times about each year going and spending 2-3 months in once place and really seeing it and becoming a bit of a local. That could be anywhere from 3 months somewhere in Europe like Ile de Re or 3 months in a ski resort or even Cornwall but we do also have plans to live nearer the sea so it may be we are spending 9 months there anyway with a little bit of London thrown in.
My husband is a Londoner and a city boy where I'm the opposite, more of a country bumpkin but we will work it out so we both have a little of what we want. The world is a big place and there is still so much more to see!! Roll on retirement I say.
How can we get in touch with you and find out more about you or your product?
I'm on Facebook and Instagram and then there is my website which is a very small window of what I do - if you'd like to visit my shop then check my social media pages for opening times or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm currently running a scarf giveaway worth at least £75 so do look it up on Facebook or Instagram and feel free to enter, we've had lots of great guesses so far.
You can also use this code on my website FF10 which will give you 10% off everything until 30th April 2019.
If you are local to Maidenhead then it is absolutely worth popping in to see Wendy, just check her opening hours first. There is plenty of free parking and it is easy to find. Or you can order online via her website or if there is something in particular you are looking for and want some advice then do drop Wendy an email or give her a call.
Wendy stocks an excellent range of CLOTHES, GIFTS, SCARVES, PURSES, GLOVES (see below) AND ACCESSORIES FROM POWDER, TROPIC SKINCARE ETC It is quite an Aladdin's Cave!
Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post and I receive no commission or gifts for sharing this interview on my blog.
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Welcome to Fifty & Fab, a lifestyle blog to inspire you. I am a blogger with a passion for writing about style, beauty, health and fitness with a focus on the over 50's. I am based in Marlow but work across London and the South East.
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Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
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