This month we talk to Ruta Ozols, owner of Charcoal, an independent home and gift store in Teddington.
When, and why, did you start your business?
We opened in December 2019 and it was the culmination of a longtime dream and a life-changing event that made me say it’s now or never.
What challenges did you face when setting up?
Finding the right people to help with the practicalities and paperwork.
What do you love most about running your own business?
Meeting the makers who supply us and the people who come into the shop.
What valuable lessons have you learned?
You need support, and it’s ok to make mistakes. Also, remember not to drop the boxes marked ‘fragile’!
Is there anything you would do differently if starting out again?
Undoubtedly, but it’ll make me nervous if I think about that too much.
What’s your most popular service or product?
Bags and baskets.
What advice would you share with other small businesses or those thinking of starting out?
You don’t always have to stick to your business plan or your accountant’s advice. Find someone whose opinion you trust.
What are your plans/hopes for the future of the business?
I have missed the fairs and shows, so hope we can restart with those in the autumn and find new makers to bring into the shop. Also I aim to get better at the online side of things.
Name some other local independent businesses that you love to support.
The high street in general has been a lifeline during lockdown, but our treats are a takeaway from Ruba or Home.
And finally, what do you love about our local area?
People are very supportive. We have the river and incredible parks – I still get excited if I see Mo Farah running in the park!