How to design a new business with a difference

Lucinda Johnson and Michael Ritzema launched Movindaal Interiors in 2015, with a view to creating high-end bespoke interior decoration with exceptional finishes and a focus on client satisfaction. Here Your Ready Business speaks to Lucinda who explains her motives for starting-up and how the business plans to plot it’s path to growth slowly and establish a strong client base from the off.  What can other start-up businesses learn from the Movindaal story?

Our mission as a business is to produce extremely original and high-quality interior finishes with the client at the heart of all we do. Our company mantra is ‘Pride in Excellence’.

I had always been interested in interior design and starting my own business, and Mike my co-founder who had worked in specialist decoration for many years, was looking to work more for himself. We had an opportunity at the end of the summer to take some time out from our careers and give the business a real go.

We saw a genuine opportunity in the market as there are only a handful of other companies specialising in high-end decorative finishes, and a huge amount of new interior design firms – who are potential clients – coming into the market, so we went for it.

Establishing a customer base

We invested in a website, business cards, creating samples and the work itself. Quality is paramount so this isn’t something we could compromise on. We are keeping overheads low in the early stages of the business as we have studio spaces at our respective homes, and the majority of the work is carried out on-site.

Unexpected expenses will and do crop up from time to time, so my key advice for others starting out is to focus on creating steady cash-flow in order to achieve a long-term success.

We both invested a small amount of savings into the business and we didn’t fully give up work, so continued earning money while building Movindaal and were able to cover all initial set up costs. We had the equipment already, so the ‘sacrifice’ was giving our time and labour for free. Starting a business whilst working in normal jobs isn’t easy, but putting the effort in during evenings and weekends was all worth it, now we’ve got our own business up and running.

Our target customers are interior designers and interior refitters rather than end consumers, as the designers and refitters in the high-end market largely drive the demand for luxury decorative finishes. This approach also provides a ‘one to many’ route to market, with the benefit of reaching a large number of people with only a small in-house team.

We have reached out to the top designers in the UK and been in to see them with a range of our finishes and the portfolio. We give them the opportunity to create totally bespoke work on luxury projects and can bring their visions and ideas to life, which in turn, brings us exciting, creative projects.

The approach is not without its downsides. Major challenges are the long lead times on the majority of projects, where from concept to completion can be a matter of years. But on the flip side, we have already had success in being ready to mobilise for a last-minute opportunity.

Investing in digital

We are currently in the process of updating our website. The website provides people with an overview of who we are, what we do and how to contact us. For other businesses starting out I can’t say enough about the importance of having a good digital set-up to promote your business.

Social media has been really key in building our brand, showcasing our finishes and reaching international clients. Instagram and Twitter helped us build a big brand image from the offset and have also helped accelerate the growth of our network and reputation. Instagram in particular has been a fantastic tool for us as it allows us to share our work to a huge network. Mobile also sits at the heart of business operations, as we need to be readily contactable and able to respond instantly.

These channels are critical to our success moving forwards. We will continue to showcase our new work, past projects and build our network through them, so they’re absolutely integral to the business. As we grow our relationships with key clients we will rely less on the website and social media to communicate with them, however they will remain crucial in building business more broadly and sharing our work with a wider community.

I would definitely say it’s well worth investing time in the early stages of your business to build your online presence and social media following.

Planning for the future

In future we hope to be working on a variety of exciting projects that are currently in concept stage, and to have consolidated strong partnerships with a handful of key clients, whilst also building new relationships.

The route to market through interior designers and refitters is the right one for us rather than going to end clients direct, so we imagine this will continue as our route to market for the foreseeable future. Other than this it will be about establishing a reputation through a succession of impressive projects and satisfied customers.

Our advice to other businesses starting out is to feel confident in your unique selling point, whether that be a mass marketing offering, or a niche product, and then build your go to market strategy with that at the heart of all you do.

Learn more about Movindaal Interiors here.