Interview: Laura Toursoulopoulos, Director of 100% Bamboo

Getting a Job, import, Interview

How long have you been freelance?

I started researching new business ideas in late 2008 and finally got some final plans in place after my honeymoon that included visiting China in March 2009. This is where my inspiration for Bamboo products began. Shortly after, the company was set up and then it took 6-9 months until our stock arrived and trading began.

What made you start your own business?

I had worked in Marketing on client side for 10 years, followed by agency side for 2 years and was looking to market a lifestyle product that I truly believed in. I researched a few options and importing Bamboo Linens fulfilled almost all my business criteria.

How long did it take you to establish yourself/the business?

We started trading in late 2009 and although systems were in place right from the start, it wasn’t until early 2011 that I felt like I had gotten things off the ground. The first few months are worrying – not knowing how your customers will catch on to the business and if there are any major loop holes in the business process that you haven’t thought about. We had a few minor stumbles… and still do, but so far nothing we haven’t been able to solve fairly quickly.

Do you have any tips for anyone looking to start out or looking to grow an existing business?

It always takes longer than estimated and costs more than you plan, but if you keep your head down and keep working towards your goal, step by step, you will be surprised at how rewarding the journey is and that the results start showing when you least expect.

How has it been juggling your work with your personal life?

Since having a baby, my time and energy for the business has definitely been challenged, and there is no down time in my life. However, I would rather care for my child and work for myself and have the satisfaction of building something for the future, so I’m happy to pay the small price of late night working, early baby wake ups and juggling the two in between.

What does your typical work day look like?

It varies greatly depending on customer orders, communications and any activities planned with the baby, but at some point in every day I try and get a solid 3 hrs of work, which is mainly new business development. In addition I see local retailers and do general business errands in the afternoons.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Choosing our products wisely and always having enough of the fast moving items, but not too much so that it limits our expansion funds.

What are the perks that come with your job?

Flexibility to work when it suits me and my family.

How do you tend to find new business?

Good old fashioned sales calls, visits and introductions for retail partners and online search facilities for retail customers.

What advice would you give to aspiring freelancers?

Don’t give up your day job until you have found a business concept that you 150% believe in. A half-hearted approach won’t get you results.

How can our readers find out more about your business?

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