Meet the women behind the scenes at My Bespoke Room

As a female-founded company, the hard work, support and encouragement of other women is close to our hearts! As we're a design company we often highlight our incredible designers, but you may not know some other members of the team who work just as hard to make our customer's experience the best it can be. That’s why this International Women's Day we wanted to introduce you to some of the key women that are behind the success of My Bespoke Room (MBR).

Meet Diana & Laura

Our Founders

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Life before My Bespoke Room

After graduating from Business School, Diana started her career with The Arcadia Group on their Graduate Management Scheme and became one of their youngest ever store managers on Oxford Street responsible for a turnover of £30m+!  After a few years she then went on to work for the world’s largest cosmetics company; L’Oréal and spent the next 10 years in various roles across Sales, Marketing and Merchandising, working for some world-famous brands such as Kiehls, Stella McCartney and Giorgio Armani. 

Meanwhile, Laura graduated with a 1st Class Masters in Product Design Engineering, before moving to London to work for L’Oreal and stayed for just over 5 years in various creative and commercial roles. Then she took a senior role at Apple and spent the next few years working between London and San Francisco where her team helped design and roll out the apple stores across Europe. And finally, the last role she had before starting My Bespoke Room was Retail Design Director at the high growth beauty SME Liz Earle.  

It’s often said that opposites attract and that’s exactly what happened here! Both Diana and Laura worked in completely different areas of business, Laura was a product design engineer and Diana came from a brand and marketing background. However, as they both built their respective careers, they did not realise that they were gathering skills and knowledge that would complement each other later and lead them to co-create the UK’s #1 rated Interior Design Service. 

Where it all started...

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Here’s Diana and Laura, in the early years of their friendship, enjoying cocktails together. Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

On that fateful day back in January 2005, Laura and Diana both went to L'Oreal's top floor canteen, Bar 255, for some after-work drinks on a Friday night. When Diana came over to say hi, laura could not help but comment on her lovely shoes. They drank G&T’s, chatted, and laughed all evening! From there on they became firm friends, sneaking off to the office 'break out room' for a catch-up and hanging out after work.

 

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

It seemed that in 2010 both Diana and Laura hit crucial points in their lives that made them both re-evaluate what they wanted in their careers.

When an idea becomes a reality

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Diana: “The arrival of two children in quick succession was a crucial turning point in my career and prompted a re-evaluation of what I wanted to achieve in life and work. I realised that my passions were rooted in design and being creative, solving problems, and having my own successful business.”

Laura: “I had just bought my first house and like many people, I felt excited but slightly overwhelmed and frustrated that I couldn’t afford professional help. I was also obsessed with Pinterest and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t buy the items directly from the site. 

That 's when the penny dropped and I saw a gap in the market for something that was more affordable, accessible and easy to use. I reached out to Diana and told her about the idea; she loved it and when we started researching the market we saw a real opportunity to disrupt the industry in a totally new way.”

In 2014 both Diana and Laura were on maternity leave and set up My Bespoke Room with a vision: to be able to match anyone with a professional designer online so that they could create their own bespoke happy home effortlessly, all at a happy price.

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Here’s Diana, her young son and Laura sat at Diana’s dining table, building the first-ever website for My Bespoke Room. Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Diana: “Whilst struggling to find fun, inventive, and budget-friendly designs for whole houses through to single rooms, the idea mybespokeroom.com was born.

We built and created our own platform (the very first of its kind) to make the process easy, convenient, collaborative, and most importantly affordable!”

It's never plain sailing...

Our Co-founders worked on My Bespoke Room part-time for the first three years, juggling young children and work, before focusing on it full time. However, the two had to overcome many great struggles early on.

Diana: “In the beginning, so many Interior Designers would tell us the idea would never work as we were charging too little, and people would never accept doing it online. We remained positive and worked hard which paid off – My Bespoke Room is now the UK’s No.1 Interior Design company (out of 12,000+) on the Houzz UK website!”

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Laura & Diana, strategizing at our 2021 Designer Conference. Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Laura: “The biggest obstacle for us, especially in the early days, was raising capital and talking all the ‘financial jargon’ that came with it.

“The challenge was amplified for us because less than 1% of UK venture funding goes to all-female teams and we were often the only females in the room.”

Diana: “We had never been through a fundraiser before, so this was incredibly daunting. We had to learn how to pitch our business and raise funds to be able to grow, and I’m pleased to say we learnt quickly!

Laura: “We’ve now raised approx. £2m, from some great supportive investors, AND we can even talk the jargon now!”

Working with the MBR Team

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

My Bespoke Room is a people company. We’re all about approachable and friendly designers AND creating happiness in people’s lives by helping them create their perfect space. This idea lives and breathes within our brilliant team who are handpicked for their loveliness so they fit into this ethos.

Diana: “We have some incredibly smart and talented women working within the team which is predominantly female. One of the best things about it is our culture, it’s one of celebrating successes and supporting one another which is so important for female empowerment.

It’s amazing to see what the team have achieved collectively (and individually) and it makes me so proud to see so many women smashing it every single day!”

Laura: “I love the fact that my three girls get to see so many talented role models, who support and build each other up without any hesitation. Celebrating achievements (big and small) is part of our DNA.

We’re changing the industry and creating beautiful homes for our customers, and I love how passionate our team are about that mission. Also, how supportive they are of each other, and how much they care about the business and our customers. We never rest on our laurels and are always looking at ways to innovate and improve the business.

It has been a rollercoaster ride, with many obstacles along the way but I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved, together and as a team.”

Women in business our founders admire

We all have role models and people we look up to! Here are the women that inspire our co-founders to keep striving for success!

Diana: “Holly Tucker was one of the co-founders of the notonthehighstreet.com and was a big inspiration for us when we were starting mybespokeroom.com. At the time she was one of a handful of successful female tech entrepreneurs in the public eye.

Back in 2006 she had a vision, and what she achieved bringing a whole new market online and building a multi-million-pound company was truly inspirational, especially with no tech background whatsoever. Her story is simply remarkable, and despite all the challenges she faced (and there were many) her determination, creativity and passion prevailed.

Holly’s work today supporting and mentoring businesses, and promoting a new narrative for entrepreneurs is refreshing, especially with the focus around mental health, I believe this will hugely impact the next generation of start-ups.”

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Holy Tucker, Founder of Not On The High Street - Image Credit: Marie Claire 

Laura:Diana and I had the privilege of meeting Alison Rose CEO of NatWest at Downing Street back in 2019 for IWD.  She has just launched the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, which focuses on how to boost entrepreneurship opportunities for women in the UK (which is about £250 billion worth of untapped opportunity)!  

She is making waves in the industry and is working tirelessly to make it easier for women to access the capital and tools they need to step forward and follow their dreams.”  

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Laura and Diana, in Downing Street, chatting with Alison Rose CEO of Natwest and former Prime Minister Theresa May.

Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

 

Meet Jess

Head of Customer Success

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Jess is a key cog to the My Bespoke Room machine! She is the face of the introduction process, chatting with each potential customer to make sure they are happy, they understand the process, and get a feel for the project. Then she works tirelessly behind the scenes to handpick the perfect #MBRDesigner for each customer! 

Jess's background and finding MBR

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Jess’s career started out in a very different way. She used to work in Marketing for Twentieth Century Fox. 

Jess: “It was fast-paced and constantly changing and contrary to popular belief I didn't "just sit around and watch films all day" but got to work with so many interesting people on all sorts of random projects. It taught me to think on my feet and to manage multiple and often conflicting expectations. And it gave me some great stories!”

Jess decided to take a break from Fox to focus on spending time with her young daughter. However,  just as she was beginning to think about getting back to work when she started school she came across My Bespoke Room and loved the concept. 

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

A fake movie poster the team at 20th Century Fox gave Jess when she and her husband Ben got married. 

Jess: “I've been into interiors since my Grandad built me my first dollhouse and I made bathroom panelling out of lolly sticks! It seemed like fate to find a unique company and role like this just as I was looking, and it was basically the only job I applied for because I knew it was the right move.”  

Working with the MBR Team

It’s been well over three years since Jess joined our team and although it may not sound very long, she is very much part of the furniture now. She has experienced all areas of the business and works with pretty much everyone in every department. We asked her what it was like working in a female-centric team and here is what she said.

I've been very lucky to work around females for most of my life and that is in part due to an unfortunate incident early on in my working life before any career really began. I certainly gravitate to female-focused environments, initially for security and now I'm older and have been through the mill because I want to be part of that protection and support for others.  Helping set and maintain boundaries is for me one of the most important things I can do to strengthen women.

The solidarity you can find in female weighted teams is invaluable sometimes. We understand the challenges that each of us faces on a professional and personal level, whether it's everyday sexism or a phone call from the school, and support each other through that. Work doesn't have to be a fight to get ahead, we get further by lifting each other over hurdles, and everyone benefits.

The team are a really fun and driven group. We laugh a lot and have a great time together, but when the chips are down we band together and won't take no for an answer. Within weeks we knew that we wouldn't just survive the pandemic, we would thrive in it and that's because of a fabulous group of bloody-minded women!”

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Women in business Jess admires

Jess has seen the other side of adored people in the past and it's not always as pretty as it appears. However, there are certain women She has been fortunate enough to be around who she tries every day to emulate:

“There's the woman who was a leader in her field.  She showed up to work every day and delivered 110% smashing everything out of the park.  No one did it better than she did.  And then she left the office every day, bang on time, no arguments. In a role where sociability was huge, she did not compromise her personal time for anyone and it didn't impact the amazing work she did one iota. 

There was the woman who was the most important cog in the machine.  She didn't lead any departments, and she didn't deliver huge projects, but she was the very bones of the business.  If she wasn't there, you felt her absence, and if we hit an unexpected snag without her, no one really knew what to do! When I left that job I phoned her mother and told her how special everyone thought her daughter was!

And there's the woman who doesn't seem to suffer one jot from Imposter Syndrome.  She knows her stuff, and she knows she knows her stuff.  In a world where we all feel like one day someone is going to realise we have no idea what we're doing and tell everyone, she is the woman who has the solutions and doesn't allow other people to pull the wool over her eyes.”

 

 If you'd like to chat with Jess and see how we can help you fall back in love with your home then click the button below so we can set this up for you! 

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Meet Victoria

Head of Trade

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Victoria works hard to onboard and nurture excellent relationships with our outstanding suppliers. She was, like many of our team members, inspired and excited by the prospect of My Bespoke room and has now been with us for over 6 years.

 

Victoria's background and finding MBR

Victoria wanted a career in an industry that she was passionate about where she could utilise her immense project management skills.

Victoria: “I went to work for a fashion accessories company in product development and worked in Asia and Italy before moving into a design and project management role at a large cosmetics company in London.”

It was fate that seemed to bring her to My Bespoke Room after a random chance run-in with one of our founders.

Victoria: “Laura and Diana, both worked at L'Oreal and we all had maternity leaves at a similar time. Serendipitously Laura and I both relocated to the south coast and bumped into each other at a cafe with our toddlers. It was such an exciting company I wanted to be part of it! “

 

Working with the MBR Team

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Since Victoria has been working for My Bespoke Room from such an early point in its development, she has always been a big part of the team and so she understands the company and the team inside and out.

Victoria: “ Laura and Diana have always been supportive to a flexible working structure to get a good work/life balance - they have high expectations but also with a flexible and open attitude which was ahead of the curve.

I’m really proud to work for a female-led company, especially as we are primarily a tech company and what goes on behind the beautiful room designs and allows designers and customers access to over 1 million amazing products is an incredible platform that has been created.”

 

Women in business Victoria admires

As Victoria is our Head Of Trade, her choice of inspirational women are quite different to our design team. 

" I love Kate Watson Smyth, creator of 'Mad About the House'! She has pioneered making interior design accessible sharing her tips and ideas with her fabulous blogs and podcast 'The Great Indoors' which I love listening to. She has also been a pioneer in the industry for environmentally friendly designs and has produced a stunning sustainable range of sofas with Love Your Home, who is one of our suppliers, and our clients are loving this new collection!"

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Image Credit: Love Your Home

 

Meet Alexa

Head of Marketing

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Alexa's background and finding MBR

Alexa does a lot of the work behind the scenes to expand our brand's reach to many more people who want to beautify their home at a price they’ll love. Our customers will not have much contact with her but she will no doubt be the reason they discovered us.

Alexa: My marketing career began in the fast-paced, high pressure world of PR. Being a closet nerd and an introvert, it was only a couple of years before I moved into the world of digital marketing and hid behind my spreadsheets! 

The majority of my career has been working for startups, and I’ve absolutely loved playing a small part in a company’s early story. The buzz and camaraderie is like nothing I’ve felt in larger, more established companies I’ve worked for.”

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Believe it or not Alexa’s first encounter with My Bespoke room was not from a chance event but was in fact the result of her personal passion for interior design. 

Alexa: “I had followed (stalked) My Bespoke Room for a year or so before I joined the team. I am borderline obsessed with interior design and was studying it in my spare time. It took a global pandemic for me to stop, take a breath and let myself combine my day job with this passion.

I wish I’d done it sooner - I have never been proud of what I do for a living until now!

I’ve been at MBR for almost 2 years now (how did that happen?!) I joined slap bang in the middle of lockdown which should have been a challenging time to join a new company but Laura, Diana and the rest of the team couldn’t have been more welcoming. 

Even though I didn’t meet most of them face to face for over half a year, it never felt like it! (Apparently, I look shorter on Zoom?!)”

 

Working with the MBR Team

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Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

One key benefit at My Bespoke Room is the encouragement to rest, revitalise and recharge, For many of us it was an eye-opening experience after leaving work environments that were not as passionate about maintaining a good work-life balance as our founders. 

Alexa: It takes a great deal of effort when working from home to walk away from your laptop. A healthy work-life balance is something that Laura and Diana feel strongly about though, and I’ve found I’m now far more productive in the day being able to fully switch off and re-energise in the evenings.”

My Bespoke Room’s talented team of women that are caring and compassionate towards each other seems to be a big reason as to why people love to work here and Alexa is no exception.

Alexa: “I am incredibly proud to work for and alongside this team of inspirational women. The culture is so supportive - you just know that everyone has your back and we all go above and beyond to help each other. Female founders are a rare breed and Laura and Diana are a daily example of how ludicrous that is.”

Life is too short to live in a home that you don’t love and life is too not work in an industry that you love. It looks like Alexa couldn't agree more.

Alexa: “I love the fact that I can live and breathe Interior Design every day! It’s so rare to love what you do and who you do it with. 

One of my favourite things is hearing from our customers and how something as simple as a room design has changed the way they live and feel. Interior Design is so much more than just a tin of paint and some pretty cushions! 

I’m proud to work for the company that has opened interior design up to everyone, it’s no longer the case that only the wealthy 1% can have a beautiful home.”

 

Women in business Alexa admires

Similar to Jess, Alexa aspires to be more like the women in her life and career that have inspired her.

Alexa: “I was always hard-working but not ambitious when I was in my early twenties. That couldn’t have changed more as I worked with and was inspired by incredible women that challenged my own misled assumptions of what a woman can achieve.

Even though they won’t know it - I will always be grateful to them and the examples they set."

 

We have such an unbelievably talented team, and we're so grateful for the work they do. There are so many people that we would love to mention, for example, our excellent Personal Shopping team, our massive group of expert designers and many many more. Keep an eye out for another blog coming later this week that highlights some of our remarkable designers.  

If you want to put your trust in our incredible team then click the link below to start your home transformation!

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