Interview with Lisa Angel, founder of Lisa Angel
Find out what inspired mum Lisa Angel to launch Lisa Angel, a jewellery, accessory, homeware, and giftware brand in 2004. Lisa began selling jewellery she’d created on her living room floor at local craft shows, later expanding to a stall in a busy shopping centre.
Almost 20 years on, the company now has two retail stores in the heart of its home city of Norwich and a popular online site selling worldwide.
Lisa Angel also has its own in-house dried flower brand The Norfolk Flower Room, which hand-crafts beautiful bouquets and arrangements using real dried botanicals, thus embracing sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices in homeware production.
Where did the idea for Lisa Angel come from?
In 2004 I began hand-crafting jewellery on my living room floor. I sold my wares at local craft fairs, from which I could see the brand beginning to develop a solid customer base.
In 2006, I was given a table in the food court of the newly-built Chantry Place shopping centre (formerly Chapelfield) in Norwich. When selling from this table picked up even more traffic, the centre offered me a permanent stand on the ground floor, and I traded from this stand in 2008.
In 2011, the first Lisa Angel retail store opened in the Norwich lanes, and in 2018, a second retail store opened, this time back in the Chantry Place shopping centre. We had many successful years trading from both stores before deciding to expand one of them to a much larger space at the end of 2022. Lisa Angel now has two beautiful stores in Norwich, a large warehouse on the outskirts of the city, a growing wholesale trade, and a website that ships to customers worldwide.
During the 2020 pandemic, I worked on creating dried flower bouquets and arrangements from home, and thus our brand The Norfolk Flower Room was born. Now, our fabulous team work from a warehouse space in Norfolk, using sustainable methods and real botanicals to create stunning floral arrangements which we sell from the Lisa Angel website and in both our retail stores.
What makes Lisa Angel stand out from other brands?
We love to sell products that are that little bit more special than the vast majority of giftware items you’d find on the high street. We specialise in personalised products to give customers the opportunity to select an emotive gift for a loved one or a valuable treat for themselves.
We also uphold our strong values in sustainability – intending to improve our practices through every step of our journey. I’m proud to say we have a strong team of women behind the brand, allowing us to champion girl power and fly the flag for female-founded and powered businesses!
What is your career background?
I studied European Fashion Design at art school and have had a strong passion for creativity, art and design for as long as I can remember. My career began when I worked as an Assistant Buyer with a design element for a large department store in London.
I moved from this role to a Senior Assistant Buyer, and then Buyer for a retail brand, before moving back to my home city of Norwich in 2004 when I fell pregnant with my first child.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
While on maternity leave in 2004, I realised that I was really feeling the pull to stay in Norwich rather than reclaim my former roles back in London. I started thinking of ways I could begin my own business from home while also having a lot of time to spend with my new daughter.
I needed a role that offered some form of flexibility that I could really pour my creative passion into and decided that I wanted to start my own jewellery business.
How did you move from the idea to an actual business?
Though I very much enjoyed selling at craft fairs, while pregnant with my second child, I realised I needed mentoring and assistance if I wanted to propel the business forward. I received a small grant and made the decision to sell my car so I was able to purchase more stock.
I was also fortunate to be introduced to a wonderful business coach, Ann, who really did change my outlook and spurred me on to take the brand further. I put myself out there and asked if I could sell from Norwich’s brand-new shopping centre, which turned out to be incredibly rewarding when I was offered a table to trade from.
How did your career change after having children and how did you balance work with your family?
After having my first two children, I realised how tricky it was to juggle my own business alongside quality time with my family. I poured my heart and soul into developing the brand in every bit of time I had. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to trade more if I wanted to, and this meant utilising every weekend, as they were the best for trading hours.
This was obviously challenging with having two young children, but it was worthwhile for building the brand. More recently – and especially after the birth of my third child – I decided to take more time off from work and increase my flexibility. I made sure I fully trusted the team I had behind me really early on, which has always paid off.
What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
When the business started to grow, cash flow was often the biggest obstacle, which tends to be the case with all start-up businesses. For me personally, another obstacle was having a young family.
I never truly felt like I was winning when all I could see was how much I was juggling work with family. My business coach really helped me overcome these challenges, however, and allowed me to more clearly see what I wanted to happen and how I was going to achieve it.
What is your proudest moment so far?
It’s always easier to feel proud of the more recent achievements, as these are so fresh in my mind. Our new larger retail store opening at the end of last year was a standout moment for me, as well as some of the incredible awards the brand has won in recent years.
I feel proud of the business and our wonderful team every day, but it is only when I look back to where Lisa Angel began, that I see just how much has been accomplished. When the team behind the brand is altogether in one place, or when somebody external to the business is telling me how valued Lisa Angel is, this is when I feel the most pride for everything the business represents.
Why is work so important to you?
The Lisa Angel brand is a real passion project and has always been deeply rooted in my heart. It has become part of my personality to have a firm grip on my business and pour my love into it as much as I did from the start. Striving for results propels me forward and inspires me to carry on and achieve more. Every day I am spurred on by the beautiful products, our wonderful team, and the loyalty of Lisa Angel customers.
Who inspires you?
It is impossible to pick just one person. As I have already mentioned, Lisa Angel wouldn’t be where it is today without my business coach, Ann. My mum is also a very personal inspiration to me, as she had her own business while I was growing up, which taught me the value and importance of hard work.
Professionally, Holly Tucker is a real idol of mine, as she has so much passion and love for small businesses. She regularly waves the flag for independent companies and works tirelessly to spread the word about brands that deserve to have their stories shared.
What are your top three pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
1) Test trade by getting an idea of what works with your market before spending a lot of money
In the brand’s beginning, it was essential to be sensible with my cash flow, so I made sure I was spending in the right places – taking smaller risks to ensure I was as familiar as possible with my customer base and what worked for my brand.
2) Take every piece of free advice you are offered
Mentoring is a fantastic way to gain experience, knowledge, and confidence, as well as getting to know other brands and entrepreneurs. Make it your mission to learn from people and their experiences, and you will see your brand begin to flourish.
3) Use your instincts to trust people
Whether this is colleagues in your business or mentors or associates externally, find people who care as much as you do about your brand. If you take on too much solely, you are bound to get stuck, so never feel scared to employ fellow passionate people, as this is the main way businesses grow.
Find out more about Lisa Angel.