Claire Hearn from Rose and Olive Vintage Tea Events, talked to me about how she swapped a career in the Metropolitan Police for self-employment running her own business – hosting amazing vintage tea parties and pop-up tearooms.
As a fellow lover of afternoon tea and collector of vintage china, when I met Claire via a fantastic The Girls Mean Business Facebook group I was immediately inspired to use her story for the first in this occasional series for my blog.
I asked Claire when the idea for Rose and Olive had begun and she explained that it was the idea of running her own business that came first, even though she didn’t know exactly what that would be to begin with:
“I had this realisation that I wanted to have more control over my working life.”
Claire could see that becoming a business owner would not only allow her greater freedom but also give her more time with her young daughter. Even though she hadn’t seen herself as someone who could be an ‘An Entrepreneur’ she was partly Inspired by watching TV shows on how other entrepreneurs had built their businesses.
So that light bulb moment (which actually happened on her honeymoon) began to develop when Claire set up Finest Detail Weddings, which quickly blossomed in to a wider event planning concern.
At this point she was still working full-time, but then Claire had the opportunity to take over an existing vintage hen party business (something she’s still doing) and which developed into her tea events business. She was so busy by then that she’d already reduced her hours with the Police to part-time and then she decided to take the plunge:
“It was one of those moments when I felt if I don’t go now when will I go? I don’t think there’s ever going to be a right time when you make that jump but I think you know within yourself when you have to be brave enough to take that leap.”
I asked Claire what had been the most difficult thing about making the change:
“The hardest thing for me was the transition from being an employee to being my own boss … I think I probably spent about six months really to get my head around it.”
And why was that?
“I was used to getting paid on a certain day, not having to worry about the other bits of the job and obviously when you’re self-employed you do everything yourself and it all falls on you … it was the mindset of switching from being employed.”
Over the last two years Rose and Olive Tea Events has gone from strength to strength. Her husband, also a former Police Officer who retrained as a chef, helps Claire by doing all the baking but otherwise it’s Claire who manages all the running of the company.
I wanted to know what the best thing was about making the change and being her own boss:
“The opportunities I’ve had … the freedom to earn what you can earn, to take on as many jobs as you want to, to work when you want to work, to take a last minute holiday. I love the freedom it brings … When we do an event and people love what we do it’s that satisfaction of knowing you created that and made it happen.”
Claire told me that many of her friends and former colleagues wished they could be as brave as she’s been so I wondered what she thinks stops other people from making the break. It’s one of the things I’m really interested in – the difference between people who harbour dreams and don’t do anything about it and those who say ‘I’m going to go for this.’
“I think it’s fear … fear is a massive factor that stops people doing what they want in life. It’s being brave and finding something from within you.”
So who has inspired Claire in her life choices? The names that came straight to mind were Lisa Nichols and JK Rowling, because they both started with nothing and built their careers from scratch.
And because I’m curious about how women choose their business names I asked Claire about hers. It’s a lovely story – when she rebranded in 2015 she chose Rose and Olive to honour her two grandmothers (both great tea drinkers)!
Lastly, I’d like to share one last quote from Claire. When I asked her what piece of advice she’d give to other women who’re thinking about setting up their own business, she said:
“Don’t let the fear hold you back!”
The thing that can stop us from moving on is the feeling that we have to see the whole picture and know exactly how it’s going to work, rather than taking that leap of faith and saying ‘I know how to start, now let’s see where that takes me.’
I hope you’ll find it inspiring and that it gets you thinking about making a big leap of your own.
Claire Hearn is the owner of Rose and Olive Tea Events. If you’d like to contact Claire or find out more then the links are all below.