Meet Hannah Townsend

Continuing my theme of featuring little known, but inspiring small businesses, I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to interview Hannah. She is a woman of exceeding talent – not only has she set up her very successful interiors homewares shop, which focuses on beautiful, personalised items of the straw variety, but she also has a demanding full-time career. Want to find out how she does it? Here she is, answering some questions about her life and aptly named shop ‘Sunshine and Shade.’

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Can you Introduce yourself and your business?

Hi, my name is Hannah, I’m 33 and live in Manchester and I started Sunshine and Shade in April 2017.

How did the idea to start ‘Sunshine and Shade’ come about?

I have always wanted to have my own business, not necessarily as my full time job but to experience the challenges, try wearing all of the hats as they say, and see whether I could make a little profit. I saw a slogan hat on the internet one day and decided I would start with making and selling these. I love travel and holiday fashion.

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Hannah sporting one of her personalised straw hats

It’s such a great name – how did you come up with it?

Thank you! I was thinking up names for a sun hat and holiday accessories business and it seemed to represent well what I was selling whilst hopefully being memorable and catchy too.

What items do you stock?

I focus on stocking wicker and straw based accessories and currently stock sun hats, shoulder bags, clutch bags, market baskets and seagrass baskets.

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One of Sunshine and Shade’s ‘Bali bags’. Photo courtesy of @braidsandblooms_
How does it feel when you see your homewares photographed in customers homes?

I absolutely love it. Whenever I get tagged in photos I get a rush of pride. I’m so happy that people like my products enough to share them on their social media pages. Thank you to everyone who tags me, please keep them coming.

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Pom Pom belly basket, showcased in the home of @lustliving

What inspires your colour choices?

I think it’s a combination of the colours I love and have in my home (whites, greys and pinks) and the inspiration I take from Instagram accounts that I follow.

You have a day job too – how do you organise your time?

This is a difficult one! My day job as an accountant and business tax adviser can be really full on. I have a large corporate international client base that can be very demanding so I often work unpredictable long hours. However, I try not to take my day job home. If I need to work late in the office I work until I need to and then get myself home to switch off and work on Sunshine and Shade until midnight at the latest. I then get up early to finish orders and take parcels to the post office. Luckily my local post office is open at 7:30am so I can take parcels there before work. I feel lucky that I love both my day job and running Sunshine and Shade so although I’m always on the go, I wouldn’t have it any other way (well maybe a few more hours in the day to do some more running, learn to cook like Nigella and spend more than 5 minutes doing my make up!)

To what do you attribute your success?

1) Dedication and time spent sourcing and making unique products (sourcing from overseas has been a learning experience).

2) The kindness of bloggers that supported my business when it was in its very early days by sharing my products with their followers (a particular mention and thank you @rvk_loves and @blossomingbirds who massively helped kick start my following).

3) Great customer service – It’s important to me that this is the best I can make it.

Do you showcase your homewares in your own home?

I do indeed! I will only sell an item if I love and would buy it myself. I also love buying items for my home from other small businesses on Instagram.

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Photo credit: @laurenrust82
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Hannah adds beautiful stitched detail to her products to make them unique – photo credit @thelifeofwhite_

What are your favourite pasttimes when not at work?

When I’m not working, you’ll probably find me out for a jog, walking in the Peak District, learning Spanish (let’s say it’s slow progress) or catching up with family and friends. I also love being on the water. A few years ago I took my day skipper sailing exams so I try and make sure there is a sailing trip amongst the travel plans each year.

If you had one piece of advice to others starting on a similar journey, what would it be?

Once you have your product, focus on marketing it. Gift some of your products to people with large social media followings to help get your product out there. Good luck to anyone starting their own business, it’s a lot of fun!

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The ‘grey belly basket’ featured in my own home

Some inspiring and motivational words from another female entrepreneur, making a success of herself in the world of interiors and social media! Check out Hannah’s Instagram page @sunshineandshade for more details on her beautiful offerings and where to buy.

Kat x

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