Zoe Hewett is an interior designer and owner of Zoe Hewett Interiors: Stylemongers of Bristol. We asked Zoe about how she got started and, importantly, how she keeps it all going, the benefits and pitfalls of running your own business and her 5 favourite places around the city. Read more interviews here.
** Zoe is running a special discount of 20% off her design workshops for Bristol Pound customers – visit her Workshops page for all the details. **
What’s your business?
A mixture of design consultation, design schemes, and running workshops for people who want a steer with designing their own homes. Basically I’m an interiors nut with almost 20 years design experience so to be honest I can’t really do anything else.
Where are you from, and how did you find yourself in Bristol?
Originally I’m from Cardiff and moved here almost twelve years ago on a whim. The city still feels new and exciting to me. I don’t think I’ll ever leave!
What do you love about the city?
I love its creativity, diversity and benign but rebellious spirit. As for my job, I’m a bit of a design obsessive so love all of it but the highlight moments are when I solve a problem for a client or give them a suggestion they would not have thought of by themselves. That is really satisfying.
How did you start your business?
After a decade working as a theatre designer and art director I needed a change. I began with decorating houses and upcycling furniture then gradually started designing. It’s basically the same skillset and role except the people and buildings I deal with now are real and not held together with gaffa tape!
How do you keep it going?
I’m not sure sometimes. It’s definitely a crazy juggle but I’m always trying to hone what I do and how I do it to be more efficient. Networking with others in the same position always helps and the reflective, positive mindset stuff associated with being an entrepreneur is vital for keeping on keeping on.
What’s your favourite thing about running an independent business?
The flexibility to be able to take my little girl to and from school and pop in if there’s a problem, that’s so important. Also being an independent, I’m free to source from anywhere which means I can put together a unique, bespoke design scheme from a limitless palette, whereas if I designed for a big shop brand it would be more restrictive and less creative.
What are the challenges?
The biggest challenge is always marketing as it is requires so much effort just to get the message out there before you can get stuck in to doing the actual work. I’m often wrestling with how to make interior design accessible without devaluing the profession. Regular income is tricky for many small businesses, but since starting my workshops two years ago that has really helped balance out the extremely busy and extremely quiet periods with a bit more consistency.
What made you sign up to accept Bristol Pounds? What do you like about the scheme?
It’s such a great idea and I love being part of the local business community.
Are Bristol Pound customers different?
Yes I have had a few £B customers and would definitely say they tend to have their finger on the pulse and a social conscience.
What are your five favourite places in Bristol?
The Malcolm X Centre is dear to me. I train Capoeira there every Tuesday (when I am super disciplined) and it’s always a bit magic. Especially when I don’t get kicked in the face or something which is a genuine concern every lesson! Colston Hall always seems to have something on that’s up my musical alley, usually in The Lantern. The Architecture Centre I love too and particularly enjoyed attending lectures there when I first moved here on things like town planning and Le Corbusier. That’s pretty nerdy isn’t it?! La Ruca [£B] on Gloucester Road is one of my regular haunts – I can’t get enough of the black beans in their chimichangas and the totally laid back atmosphere. But I equally love The Milk Thistle [£B] at the other end of the glamour spectrum and the slightly silly pretence that you’re entering a Masonic Lodge, it’s fun!
Where can we find you around the internet?
I publish regular blog posts on my website full of interior design tips and inspiration and I’m often on Instagram too, curating photos of homes shared by Bristol residents using the hashtag #mybristolhome. There is a large collection of images up there now and we are always looking for new people to play along from all over the city, no matter how high end or humble their home. The aim is to showcase and celebrate the diversity and creativity of the city’s homes so it would be great if £B reading this feel compelled to join in!
Do you have any offers for Bristol Pound customers?
I offer Earlybird discount tickets to my Interior Design Workshops until a certain amount of time before an event, but I keep the price reduced by 20% off for Bristol Pound users all the time. The next one is an all day Masterclass taking place at Bakesmiths on 5th January to get the new year off to a good start. This one is already half full but there are more workshops in the pipeline so keep an eye out for them – visit my Workshops page for all the information.
Thank you Zoe!
If you’re a £B business and would like to be interviewed for this feature OR you’re a customer and would like to nominate a £B business for this feature, please get in touch!
If you’re interested in joining the Bristol Pound scheme either as a business owner or an individual, find out more here.