Starting your own business can be very rewarding. Izzy Lane has operated several businesses and is the founder of organic box company Farmaround.
In this interview she talks to CV Surgeon about setting up the business and shares some entrepreneurial advice.
Tell Us About Your Career Background to Date?
I left school at 16 and after briefly living in France I went to live in London and became a musician and singer/songwriter. In 1994 I started farmaround, London’s first box scheme then went on to start Izzy Lane, an ethical fashion label in 2007 and then Good Food Nation in 2011, this time with a business partner Liz Jones. I still run all three of these companies.
What Inspired You to Start Your Own Business?
I felt very frustrated as a singer/songwriter because I didn’t have control over my own destiny and was at the whim of others. I also felt divorced from the wider world. Starting a business meant I could take control of my future. It felt more tangible and I felt employing people made a contribution to society in a way that music didn’t. I cared passionately about the environment and our wildlife so when the concept of an organic box scheme occurred to me it was an easy decision to make – to leave the music behind me.
Tell Us About Farmaround and the Company Today?
Farmaround delivers assorted bags of fresh organic produce to homes across London and the Home Counties and also to the North of England. We have a southern base and a northern base. We also deliver organic groceries and have recently added Good Food Nations organic slaughter-free milk* and organic slaughter-free eggs*. Our customers generally place an order for a weekly or fortnightly assorted bag of organic fruit and vegetables the contents of which vary with the seasons.
What Was the Hardest Thing About Starting Your Own Business?
Nothing was hard starting the business – it was just a fantastic and interesting challenge. Problems and problem solving is all part of running a business and is what makes it gripping and exciting, like an extreme sport.
What Is a Typical Day Like at Work?
My days are very varied as I spread my time across three businesses, trying to give each the attention needed so there is no typical day, except for Tuesdays. Tuesday is when I do all the sourcing of produce for the following weeks bags. I call round the farmers to see what produce they have available – chat about their crop successes and crop failures – it usually boils down to the weather and of course this year has been particularly challenging with so much rain. I brush up my Spanish and French liaising with cooperatives in Provence and Andalucia from where we import peaches, melons, grapes and various other wonderful produce. Other days I could be visiting woollen mills, our dairy farm or our manufacturers. I try and end the day with a long walk on the moors with my black lab. Thankfully they are on my doorstep.
What Are Your Hopes for the Brand Moving Forward?
In the next few months we will be launching ‘pick your own’ bags. Our customers will be able to have completely bespoke bags. I have won an RSPCA award for my business and am a finalist again in this years awards. Everything I do has animal welfare as its central theme and I will continue to move Farmaround forward in conjunction with Good Food Nation – as the home of animal lovers.
What Advice Would You Give to Someone Looking to Start their Own Business?
To do it and to do it in an area in which you are passionate. If you do not know anything about your chosen area, it doesn’t matter, you can learn. It is the passion and courage that count.
What’s the Biggest CV Tip You Could Share
I’m not interested in your voyages around the world, your extra-curricular activities at university or your voluntary work. I want to know that you understand my business and what would be expected of you and that if I gave you a job, you would be hard-working, focused and committed.
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