The disruptive entrepreneur: Lindy Staadecker
We have created a new series at Neat, interviewing entrepreneurs from around the world to share knowledge and advice on why they decided to start their own business, what challenges they came up against and any advice they would give to a new entrepreneur!
In keeping with celebrating International Women’s Day, our third entrepreneur is Lindy Staadecker. Lindy is the creator of Space to Show an online marketplace and directory for independent designers – showcasing work from the most exciting emerging talent in the industry. Let’s hear from Lindy.
What is your background (including what you did before this startup)?
Prior to starting my own businesses, I worked in hospitality marketing for many years. I decided after getting very excited about interior design whilst doing events to go back to university as a mature student. I ended up studying interior design/spatial design.
During that time I became really passionate about a different area which was fashion merchandising and I ended up working on a project with the British Fashion Council. The event was for the Panama embassy, showcasing an independent designers work. That was the first time I realised what I thought I wanted to do and what I was going to end up doing would be very different.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
So while I was at university, attending shows and working on this project for the Panama Embassy, I realised that some of the independents or emerging designers that I was surrounded by were doing some really beautiful and exciting things with fashion, interior and making really beautiful products that would probably never see the light of day.
This is because ultimately what tends to happen is that you will be employed by a bigger company and all that expression that you would have created at university, gets suppressed in a way. So I became very interested in independent designers and shopping. But you really had to trawl the internet to find independent designers and it wasn’t always the safest shopping experience as you are buying from the unknown.
So I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was one place that had all the independent designers, products and fashion together. Plus it was a safe shopping experience which is why my idea came to life. My business has been running roughly since April. Prior to Space to Show I had another company selling student work but it has evolved to where we are now.
What is the most exciting thing about starting your own business?
If you feel passionate about something, the rewards are what excite you. It is all about the small wins for me – not the sales. It is about discovering a new designer, someone asking to be part of the business or a designer’s first sale. The smallest rewards give me the highest highs!
What are the biggest challenges you found with starting your own business?
There are areas of the business that you naturally don’t enjoy as any small business owner. So for me it is the finance side – I struggle with that. When you start your own business, you can’t ignore those areas. You have to be as involved as you are with all the ones you are passionate about. I don’t naturally enjoy them so I find that the hardest part in a startup.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
I would always say test the waters and do so with as little financial risk as you can – be cautious.
There is a lovely story and each time I think about doing something new, I remind myself of this story. It goes something like this:
There is an entrepreneur, Jeff Hawkins, that invented the first palm pilot. His first prototype was a wooden block. He walked around with the wooden block testing what he would use it for to decide if it was a viable option. So in a way his first prototype was free and it was cheap. Jeff realised at that point he could incorporate it into his lifestyle before he spent the money.
That is very difficult as an entrepreneur because you are naturally enthusiastic and you get attached to your ideas. But it is always a good idea to think through the financial implications of a startup.
We don’t see as many female entrepreneurs – why do you think this is?
We face slightly different challenges as women when starting a business. A lot of us are mothers and we have other things to balance. I do think sometimes we have to work a little bit harder. We have to think about where we are in the room. We have to come forward and not be the person that hides behind the lectern and I think that is perhaps more difficult.
I sometimes get imposter syndrome which is more common amongst women like we don’t belong but we definitely do! I speak to lots of other small business owners and designers -women shine very bright in the fashion industry but they still have that feeling so it is common amongst us.