This week, team YCB had the pleasure of catching up with girl boss and total inspiration, Sarena Shetty. Sarena is the brains behind FindDesign, if you’re not familiar then let us get you acquainted! Launched at the beginning of 2017, FindDesign offer a curated collection of beautiful homewares and furniture. The unique selection of design-led products are a Pinterest dream, think marble accessories, Scandinavian design and beautiful statement velvet chars. Yes ladies, this is the home store we’ve all been waiting for.
We couldn’t wait to have a chat with Sarena on everything from interior trends to girl bossing it full time. Let’s get stuck in…
Okay, quick fire warm up question but a very important one for us to understand here at YCB, coffee or tea?
Difficult question – black coffee for early mornings, flat white as a treat, freshly squeezed lemon, honey and green tea when ill and a builder’s brew for any other occasion.
Great answer, black coffee or a flat white all the way for us! Moving on, we’d love to hear about your journey from education to career. What was your major?
I went slightly off-piste and did a masters in medicinal chemistry. I realised I wasn’t meant to work in a lab so jumped into the world of design and never looked back!
Totally off-piste, but here at YCB we’re great believers in career changes whatever that may be! It’s never too late to completely change your path. So, what did you do prior to starting your own business?
As I mentioned, I originally trained to be a chemist, when I realised I wasn’t a very good chemist I accidentally got a job with a furniture start-up. This was a fun, fast-paced environment where I got to learn a lot. As part of the original team I saw them go through rounds of investment and watched as the company and culture changed. The seeds for FindDesign really began here, as I was convinced there was a gap in the market as more people are willing to shop for furniture online.
We couldn’t agree more, and find that there isn’t enough choice online for our Pinterest worthy home desires! At what point did you bite the bullet and focus on FindDesign full time?
I left the startup world to go travelling for a couple of months in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. When I came back I was ready to start my own business: FindDesign was born.
Your job sounds pretty darn amazing, but there must be ups and downs to bossing it on your own. What are your favourite and least favourite parts of the job?
I would have to say the number one favourite part of my job is searching for beautiful products to put on our site. The least? The manual processes and admin that come with starting a business from scratch can be a bore. I’m a people person and sometimes the loneliness of starting a business can get to you too – but I have great friends to bounce ideas off and the start-up community is incredibly welcoming.
It’s a big world out there and as you hesitate, you’re offering up an opportunity for someone else to take your idea and turn it into a success.
Yes, we can imagine that it can be quite lonely in the start off, it’s so important to have a strong group of friends around you! How would you say your life has changed now that you are running FindDesign?
My life has changed immeasurably. I have complete autonomy over every decision and that freedom is incredibly liberating. I’m much happier running my own business, but of course there are new challenges that you face too.
We’d love to know how a typical day in the life of Sarena Shetty looks! Could you give us a quick rundown?
There’s no typical day in my shoes, which is something I love. At the start of a business you have to wear many hats, whether that’s marketing, branding, pr, site content, product selection, merchandising, tech – the list is endless. I tend to start the day with less creative tasks, checking emails, doing admin as I’ve learnt that I’m best producing content in the afternoon. Aside from this there is very little routine (something I certainly need to get better at!).
Haha, we feel you! Sounds like your days are extremely varied and exciting! What would you say has been the biggest moment of your career so far?
So many exciting things have happened so far, but if I have to name a few: actually registering my own business on Companies House, the first FindDesign sale and becoming a regular feature in the Evening Standard design column.
Fantastic! Okay so time to pick your brains for other aspiring entrepreneurs out there. What’s your top advice for those who are looking to make the move from the corporate world to starting their own business?
My advice is to take the plunge now as it’s something you won’t regret. You learn so much on the job and those lessons will be invaluable. You also have no one to answer to but yourself, which is a massive plus. It’s a big world out there and as you hesitate, you’re offering up an opportunity for someone else to take your idea and turn it into a success. Pick a sector you have experience in or a passion for, find a problem and solve it.
…make a product that solves a problem, then make that product as brilliant and innovative as it can be. It’s not easy, but everything else flows from this sound base…
Thank you for that! We couldn’t agree with your words more. When it comes to marketing your brand, what are your top tips and tricks?
Firstly, make a product that solves a problem, then make that product as brilliant and innovative as it can be. It’s not easy, but everything else flows from this sound base – a good product markets itself and is essential in developing an authentic brand voice. Then shout about it. This could be through your blog, creating unique content, via influencers and offline events – the channels are endless. Find the niche that fits your brand and be consistent, courageous and relentless.
You make it sound so simple, Sarena! How do you utilize social media to create an online presence? Is this something that is important to your brand?
This is something that is incredibly important to any brand, and as we make a massive push over the next quarter social media is certainly something we will be focussing on. Social media is a direct line to your customer and a brilliant way to engage with your audience, not only acting as a mouthpiece for your product, but enabling you to gain feedback from the people who matter the most – your users. It’s also a way to get super creative, so I find it a really exciting space. For us a key priority is visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, as we’re a lifestyle product they provide a great place to showcase our collections and sell a vision.
Can you let us in on the hottest trends we should be buying right now? We’d love to hear from the expert.
Muted tones – I normally prefer a minimalist style which tends to involve calmer hues, so this trend is right up my street. Think blush pinks, soft pastels, grey and white. These colours come together to create a sense of peace and tranquility in a space, perfect for a balmy summer’s eve.
Marble – 2017 trends have placed a huge emphasis on materials and marble is one that rocks. Coloured marbles are frequently used in design and there was a huge emphasis on dark marbles during Milan design week. Marble offers a unique opulence, that not many other materials can match – a trend that shows no signs of stopping.
Cork – Originally popular in the 70s, there’s been a cork resurgence. Cork products are coming into the mainstream thick and fast, and cork is surprisingly one of the more versatile trends for spring/summer.
Noted! In terms of FindDesign, where do you see yourself and the business in five years?
We want to be the go-to place for people who are shopping for design-led products, authorities in our space, having helped to showcase a breadth of design talent whilst fulfilling a need for all our customers.
And we’re confident that’s where you’ll be! So finally, any exciting plans you can let us in on for 2017?!
We’ve got some exciting partnerships coming up as we push our brand to the next level.
Sounds exciting! Thank you so much Sarena, it was great to chat with you and we’re glad to have found our new favourite interiors destination! View all the latest homeware finds at www.finddesign.co.uk