The Brexit referendum was announced in 2016 and turned this country upside down. Many clients of design studios which I work with are investors. They are very sensitive about political and financial uncertainty. Referendums and general elections always slow down my business, which is also pretty much in sync with financial markets. I had one of the worst years in 2017 followed by the Brexit referendum which led to multiple general elections. In February 2018, my expensive rent at Chelsea Harbour went up by a staggering 17% after my website company raised their fee by an astonishing 75% in January. It was a triple whammy.
I had no choice but to end my contract with the web company. I gave up my weekends and started building my own website using WordPress and Elementor though I am not a techy person. All the tutorials were available on Youtube, there were perhaps even too many in fact. It took a few months but our brand new website came alive just in time for Focus 2018.
I had to up my game to increase sales to pay for the raised rent. I decided to launch a marketing campaign by systematically approaching interior designers in high-end interior studios which would have suitable projects for Biden’s products. I started off with updating my database, which had built over the years from Decorex and other marketing, which was a huge task. Turnover of interior designers is pretty high. I chased down designers on the move and discovered newcomers. Some senior designers established their own studios and so it took me some time to find out their personal contact details. I personalised messages according to each studio I was addressing them to. It was quite a low tech marketing to email them with PDF catalogues. I could only send out twenty emails at a time whereas I could send thousands by Mailchimp, for which my open rate was respectably high for the industry average: between 24-29%. However, it did not generate many responses for leads. I started receiving a number of requests for sample presentations with my low tech approach. I could feel it working. It can take a couple of years to get to the point of sales, but it was a start.
Finally, a blessing came. I landed on a prestigious project which had to turn around in five months. It is an extremely short time frame even for a small project. It is definitely unheard of for a £27 million penthouse flat in Belgravia. A Hong Kong Chinese couple would use it as a holiday house and stay there up to 45 days a year. The wife is an artist and specialised in Japanese painting and they loved everything Japanese! Hence, Lucy Marsh, the principal designer brought me into the project. I was working long hours again, including weekends and at night, with Lucy. It was intense. Biden had now well recovered from the disastrous start of 2018.
I cruised through 2019 thanks to the marketing campaign. We supplied beautiful washi paper with gold flakes and threads for Berkeley Hotel in Belgravia for a major renovation. Henry Bertrand took up Biden’s collections to introduce in Russia where I would not even dream of expanding my business on my own. He was introduced to me by Paul Montgomery, a mural wallpaper designer in the US, whom I helped with product development in 2017. 2020 also started well. Then, everything came to a halt in March.