Photo by Ailbhe O’Donnell
There is nothing quite like the New Year to refocus and re-evaluate next steps in life and business. More and more entrepreneurs are realising that there might actually be something in the old cliche of not being able to pour from an empty cup. Making time for yourself is equally as important as putting the hours in at the office, if not more. Sarah Drumm and Lisa Marconi founders of DUST know a little something about taking time out to increase productivity. With a busy 2016 under their belt, seeing their interior design consultancy grow and their shop moving exclusively online, Sarah and Lisa talk to House Edit about challenges, hard work and taking time out.
1. How did DUST come about and what made you want to start your own business?
Lisa: When I renovated our house in Portobello, I realised that all the more unusual bits I wanted, I was buying online from outside Ireland. I got chatting to Sarah and we both agreed there wasn’t anywhere in Dublin selling the kind of interiors products that we loved so we thought, let’s go for it and open our own shop.
Sarah: I worked as an interior designer in London before moving back to Dublin in 2013. I was looking for a new challenge and that’s when myself and Lisa got chatting. Straight away we were both very much on the same page and decided to go for it.
2. Tell us about your background and how you got into interiors?
Sarah: I moved to London in 2004 and worked in marketing for a few years before finally biting the bullet to give up my job and go back to study interior design. After I finished studying I went on to work for design consultancy, Four-by-Two in London, before moving back home.
Lisa: I came via TV, I was directing documentaries for National Geographic and the History Channel before I left London. When I came to Dublin, there wasn’t the work I was looking for so I wanted to find something new to do. I renovated our house in Portobello from the ground up and realised that my life-long love of interiors was something I’d like to make a career of, so I retrained as an interior designer.
3. As well as your online shop, you also offer an interior design consultancy service. How do you juggle managing a business, designing and is there such a thing as work life balance?
It is certainly busy, and it has been hard to find the time to give each aspect of the business our full attention. The online store is thriving now and our interior design consultancy has really taken off, so we decided to close the store on Grantham Street to focus on developing these two aspects of the business. When you set up a business it really does take up a lot of your time, but it’s so exciting seeing your business grow you don’t mind putting in the hours. You never really switch off when it’s your business but it’s so easy just to jump onto your phone for a moment if something needs to get done, even on a day off, that it makes balancing work and life a bit easier. And when you really love what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel so like work.
4. What is your USP & what makes you stand out from the crowd?
I think our style is our USP, we find unusual products and present them in a way that allows our customer to visualise them in their own home. We show and encourage our customers and clients to be bolder in their design choices and to inject a little humour and fun into their interiors.
5. What has been your biggest learning curve since opening up your own business?
It’s hard to pick just one, since there have been so many! When you’re setting up your own business and have a limited budget, you have to become a master of all trades. We have become our own PR people, website designers, graphic designers and social media experts.