Updated: Feb 8
Summa’s business journey, including some top inside advice for new business owners.
Sawdust has recently opened a new customer service office, two years after it's original launch, and
we took some time to ask director and founder Summa, a few questions about the business looking back over the last two years.
Q and A blog taking a look at the entrepreneurial journey of Sawdust founder and director Summa.
Sawdust Group Ltd started back in February 2020 as a creative hobby of Summa, who began crafting quirky wooden shelves and gifts for family and friends. This hobby-turned-small-business grew to a full-scale furniture manufacturer in just two short years. 2022 see’s Sawdust now offering UK wide delivery and operating from a workshop and office space, a far cry from its humble roots in Summa’s kitchen.
To what does Summa think spurred the businesses success in such a short space of time, what has she learned along the way and what advice would she give to other small business owners starting out?
When you first started creating small gifts and furniture items, did you ever imagine making a business out of it, and if not, how did that begin?
Not at all. I was working fulltime and found something that helped me unwind after a long shift. Our home was soon full of the things I was making so I started gifting friends and family some of the items so I could carry on crafting them. I am the first to admit that I was just winging it to start with, but stuff was turning out better and better and I was learning as I went along.
Once I had gifted a few items the feedback was better than I expected, and on more than a few occasions people suggested that I could make bit of money selling them. I was skeptical at first but thought sod it, I could use a few extra quid, and it meant I could carry on with my hobby.
So, if Sawdust really just started as a side hustle for you, what made you decide to launch it as anything bigger?
I had no initial intention of it becoming anything more than a bit of extra money. But before my eyes, interest grew, in what seemed like, overnight. I had a small Facebook page, and the orders were coming in quicker and quicker. I began to struggle to keep up with work and this little venture and became quite stressed and overwhelmed. There was definitely an element of impostor syndrome creeping in where I didn’t really believe that I was capable of maintaining it as a business, or that the business would be sustainable. I carried on plodding away but the orders didn’t stop coming in and eventually something had to give. After some serious conversations with those close to me I handed in my notice Dec 2020 and could finally put everything into my little business.
That must have taken quite the leap of faith. What made you take that decision and put everything into Sawdust?
It was and it wasn’t, I didn’t want to look back in ten year’s, still doing a boring 9-5 job, and regret not seeing if I could make it work. I told myself that I would give it a go, and if it didn’t work, I would find a way out and I am so grateful that it never got to that. It hasn’t been easy and I have had so many setbacks alongside the normal highs and lows of a retail business I have had many other adversities to overcome as well as my own insecurities. I have come to learn that there are no failures, only lessons, and I have always found a solution to whatever the business has to throw at me. There are also some wonderful highlights over the last two years, and in business terms we are still so young- plenty more lessons and highlights to come. We really are still finding our feet in many respects, but the business model works and that’s the main thing.
What an incredible journey. So, what would be your advice to any new or would-be small business owners who are yet to embrace the bigger picture?
I think one of the main things is to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy what you do you have nothing keeping you in the business when things get rough. It’s hard to drive a business to success if you don’t actually care about it. Also, don’t try to do everything yourself, ask for help before you hit burnout. And lastly, don’t become consumed by it, make sure you set time aside to take a break, whether that’s no work at weekends or every evening off. It won’t be easy to do that to start with as things begin to grow, but it is essential to help with your frame of mind and give you a fresh perspective.
By taking control of situations within the business and putting structure and systems in place I am now able to take a step back and take some regular much-needed family time. No one needs to be a slave to their business, not all the time at least!
As Sawdust approaches it’s two-year anniversary Summa and her staff have reflected back on the highs and lows of the business and are working hard on lot’s of new ideas for 2022. The success so far is nothing short of inspiring and goes to show that a mix of creativity and dedication can take a business to heights it never thought possible.