I love chatting to fellow small-biz owners about what gets them going and what grinds their gears about being your own boss. I have created a series of Q&As with some of my fave small brand owners in the hope we can share some behind the scenes insight into our lives as women in business.
I met the lovely Sham of Sondr at a PR Dispatch event in London - I LOVE her imagery on Instagram, and the look and feel of her beautiful jewellery brand. Her pieces are designed and made in the UK, utilising London's historical Hatton Gardens in the casting and plating processes.
Who are ya?
Hiya! I’m Shamim but most people call me Sham. I’m 29 years old and from East London.
How and when did you come up with the idea for Sondr?
There’s a few things that simmered for a few years that led me to start. After I qualified as an accountant, there were two jobs that I took that weren’t right for me. I was tired of working so hard towards someone else’s goals. No-one respected my own ambitions, I was sick of the toxic work culture and just desperate to create something of my own that I could be proud of. You don’t get too much of a creative outlet as an accountant funnily enough other than colour co-coordinating your spreadsheets!
The overall vision behind Sondr and the focus on stories, experiences and adventures was born out of my love for solo travelling and meeting people all over the world that I just wouldn’t have met in any other situation. I love getting to a hostel, meeting someone from a completely different background to you, trading stories, hearing what they like, dislike, what gets them going, what they want to achieve etc. It’s why I want to create pieces inspired by stories and share these with people.
Don’t get me wrong though, you can meet some absolute tw*ts in hostels too. My favourite being in La Paz, Bolivia where a guy (over 6ft) basically wrestled me (5ft 2) because I tried to change the song on the laptop in the hostel bar. I was fuming because he messed up my glasses and told me I deserved it. Apparently it was his birthday and only he got to decide what music could be played. I mean seriously.
What 3 things do you enjoy most in your job as Sondr Boss Lady?
- I love the feeling of accomplishing something for myself. I’ve worked a lot of hours for others and it feels good to actually create something that is mine and that people love. It’s so rewarding.
- Meeting people! I’ve met so many new people in the past year that I just would not cross paths with in my normal day job and I love it. So many amazing people, all doing their thing and just trying to create their space in the world. It’s inspiring to see so much ambition, creativity, imagination and kick ass people out there.
- The challenge. Everything is new to me. I’m not jewellery trained, I’m an accountant. I’m discovering and learning (and also crying about) how to do stuff all the time which is really bloody hard but it’s also fantastic as it’s pushing me way out of my comfort zone.
What 3 things do you enjoy least?
- On the flip side to the above...not knowing what I’m doing! It’s a fine balance but it can be so stressful when you’ve got no experience of working in any creative industry as to what you should be doing, what you need to think about, what things should cost etc. It’s also so tough when you’ve got no one to ask for help. I've had to deal with some interesting situations already that have led me into a right panic because I'm not sure what is right or how to proceed so it can be very difficult. At the same time though, I think if you know an industry inside out, you can often talk yourself out of stuff because you think it's not the right time whereas I don't know anything so I'll just go for it!
- I’m not naturally a talker, I love to listen, so self-promotion is so hard for me. I still get shy when people ask me about Sondr, it’s crazy! Hence me attending the ‘Hype yourself’ talk where we met to learn how to better promote myself. How do you do it without sounding narcissistic?!
- Thinking about money and juggling my time so much. It’s really nerve wracking spending so much money to get your product out there not knowing if it’s going to be worthwhile. I suppose that’s why it takes real guts to actually start your own business. I’m also working full time like so many do when they first start. It’s really hard to squeeze so much into your day (work, gym, something business related on your never ending to do list, running around Hatton Garden at lunch times because luckily I don’t work that far from it) and then feel bad about not accomplishing as much as you would have liked to in the evenings because unfortunately, you also need to sleep and not burn out.
Any advice for anyone starting out in the world of small biz ownership?
Please don’t let fear hold you back. It is the scariest and most rewarding thing to finally get started. Take that leap of faith. There is no shame in failure. Much rather try and fail then not try at all and sit there wondering what if!
Prioritise and make lists! Everything seems urgent but really it’s not and it’s so easy getting panicked by everything you feel you need to do.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m THE WORST for this so I need to keep telling myself it’s ok if it’s not 100% right. Your first go at anything doesn’t have to be perfect. Get it out there and get going. If you see the first versions of brands you love, honestly the state of a lot of them at the start is really funny.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future of Sondr? Where do you see yourself in 3 years time?
So much! I want to expand the range massively, bringing in earrings, bracelets, rings etc. Each collection being inspired by some story, experience or adventure.
I have a blog section on my website called Sondr Stories where I share people that have inspired me in some way shape or form. I want that to go far beyond what it is now, continuing to share the stories of your everyday heroes all smashing it in some way but also possibly bring in some elements of things that mean a lot to me. E.g. charity inspired collections and the background behind them.
Eventually I’d quite like to expand beyond jewellery into other accessories and possibly clothing! Quite the stretch goal that.
What’s your favourite breakfast?
I am forever locked in a battle to put on weight. I box a lot and I would really love to have an amateur fight (something else I try to squeeze into my schedule). Unfortunately I have always been naturally tiny and need to put on weight first to fight. Breakfast is generally eggs/avocado along with any staple mass gainer shake packed full of tonnes of calories.
I realise this is the least relatable thing ever haha.
Where can we find you?
My website iswww.sondrlondon.com and my social handles are @sondrlondon. Please drop me a message if you have any questions, I’m always happy to chat!